Victory in Jesus

Victory-In-Lord-Jesus-Christ-impending-doom-8956674-1024-768

17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.  

(James 4:17 NLT)

I haven’t written anything in months and months.  Actually, it’s been more than a year since I’ve written anything.  I’ve been dealing with pain and medication issues, sleep depravation, and depression, so to tell the truth, I just haven’t felt like writing, and the few times I started to write something, I fell asleep.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time reading or studying God’s word.  Truth be told, I haven’t spent much time with Him either.  So, when I saw something that reminded me of the scripture above, I felt motivated to do something good.  Therefore, even as I write this, another scripture comes to mind, and I am sure the Lord is speaking to me, yet when I just now turned to that scripture, so I could paste it here, I backed up so I could read the scripture in its context, and again, I can hear the Lord patiently speaking to my heart…

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:4-9  NLT)

I’m in the midst of a spiritual battle, which has been raging against me and wreaking havoc in my life for three and a half years, and the truth is, at some point, not too far into this battle, I gave up.  Unlike Paul, the apostle of Christ, I stopped fighting the good fight.  And I deceived myself into believing I couldn’t do anything about it, because I can’t do the things I used to do.  Yet now, as I write, I again hear the Lord’s voice whispering to me…

10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
Salvation and power
And the Kingdom of our God,
And the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
Has been thrown down to earth—
The one who accuses them
Before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
And by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
That they were afraid to die.

I sense the Lord urging me to share my testimony of the last few years, that led me to my current state.  I feel Him pressing me to once again, place the belt of truth around my waist as I wear the rest of God’s armor and carry the sword of the Spirit.  So, please, bear with me, as I take you back approximately three and a half years.

I had been in constant pain for more than a year.  My back hurt so bad, that it felt as though it would snap in two, yet I struggled to hold on to my job, because neither my husband or I are rich, but it was getting more and more difficult to go to work.  I can remember praying as I walked across the employee parking lot to the building, “Please Lord, help me take just one more step.  Oh God, help me to make it to the building.  Lord Jesus, please help me.”  The pain was excruciating, but it didn’t end once I was in the building.  Then, I had to pray for Him to help me walk down to the basement and to the time clock.  Then, once I punched in, I prayed for the Lord to help me walk all the way down the long hall to my office.  It was horrible, and it got to the point that I started writing my time down and having someone initial it, so I could have my co-worker in the office, who did payroll along with me, manually enter my time into the system when I clocked in and out.  The pain got so bad, that I would avoid going to the bathroom, which was just next door to my office, until I absolutely had to go, because it hurt so bad to walk.  Then, at lunchtime, my co-worker would go and get my lunch for me, so I could remain sitting.  Of course, sitting at the desk all day caused another kind of pain, but it was certainly more tolerable than standing or walking.

My mother, who lived in the nursing home, where I was employed, lived two extremely long corridors down from my office, and my pain was so terrible, that I stopped visiting her as often, and when I did, I waited until I got off, and made the long walk to my car, then drove around to see her.  I came to regret that I didn’t visit her more often, but in all honesty, I was struggling just to make it through the day, and by the time I got off, I was in too much pain, and I was just too exhausted to visit her.

I wasn’t sleeping at night either, because the pain kept me awake. Therefore, my husband had to drive me to work the last few months, because I was in so much pain, and I was so worn out, that I was afraid of falling asleep at the wheel.  I started missing more and more time, and at the end of August, my boss told me I’d better file for FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), or I was in danger of losing my job, so, I filed for intermittent FMLA.  However, when my boss and the HR (Human Resources) department saw my many diagnoses and my prognosis, they told me that I didn’t qualify for intermittent FMLA.  Instead, I would have to go out on a full FMLA, and I couldn’t return to work, until my doctor signed a release stating that I was now able to work full-time.  Both the company and I knew that I wouldn’t be returning, and so, August 31, 2012 was the last day I worked.

I was also a prison minister, and at the beginning of January, 2013, I had to resign, because I was unable to sit or stand long enough to minister to the inmates.  Also, I was feeling too defeated to to minister the gospel of hope to the inmates.  It broke my heart when I had to stop ministering in jail, and I began to dip into depression.

Then, my mother became ill, and had to be admitted to the hospital.  It was extremely difficult to see how sick my mother was, but I went to see her during the day, and the long walk to the elevator, and then to her room was nearly more than I could bear.  Sometimes, when my husband came with me, he would get a wheelchair and push me to her room.  However, he had a job, so he couldn’t always come.  My sister worked, and because I was now not working, I wanted to help her and stay overnight at the hospital with Mom, so she wouldn’t have to, but my pain was so bad that I just couldn’t stay every night.  I did stay a few times, but the pain was horrid.

At that time, I was taking massive doses of pain medication, which made it hard for me to even function, and although I was taking hardcore pain killers, they weren’t killing the pain, which continued to increase.  From April of 2011 until sometime in 2014, not a day  went by that I wasn’t in pain, and it was wearing me down.

On top of that, my sister and I were having issues.  I’m sad to say, we’ve always had a difficult relationship.  I love her with all my heart, and I think she loves me, but we’re two different people, or maybe we’re both an awful lot alike.  Still, whatever the reason, we’ve always had trouble communicating and getting along.  Perhaps my sister remembered all the times I played hookie from school by faking illness, and though she never came out and said so, I don’t think she believed I was really in as much pain as I was.  Whatever the case, every time I went to visit Mom, I could feel her anger fill the room, as she ignored me, or spoke sharply to me.

My response to the situation was equally wrong, I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, so I would sit there watching Mom in silence, engulfed in self-pity, because I hate conflict, and I was afraid of making her angrier than she already was.  I really wanted to be there for my mother, but I also wanted to just run away from the painful situation, like I had done my entire life.  Whenever things got too painful or difficult, I tried to run away and avoid it, by trying to ignore the problem and pretending it didn’t exist.  If I couldn’t physically avoid the painful situation, as was the case at that time, then I tried to zone out mentally and think of other things.  I sometimes asked friends or my husband to accompany me, so I could feel that I had at least one person there who loved me.

Again, I was in the midst of a spiritual battle, and my enemy was not my sister, yet, rather than remaining firm in my faith and standing against the enemy of my soul, I reverted to my childhood ways, and responded to things the way I did when I was a little girl.  You see, instead of humbling myself and completely trusting my loving Father to carry me through the pain, I simply gave up without a fight, and allowed the enemy to steal my faith, my joy, my health, and my peace.  I forgot one very important thing that could have sustained me through everything that was happening…

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

(Philippians 4:13  NLT)

Instead, I reverted to a passive-agressive state.  I became a self-pitying martyr, and I felt very justified about it.  But the fact is I should have clung to my faith, instead of reverting back to the little girl I once was.

On February 15, 2013, my mom passed away, and it ripped my world apart.  At almost fifty-two, I became an orphan, and Satan’s demons and my own mind waged a terrible war against me, and by this time, I was incapable of fighting back.  I was a basket case.  I was wracked with guilt, feeling that I should have done more to save my mother’s life.  I began having nightmares about dying, and I was terrified that I would die and go to hell, because I didn’t help my mother.  I was so disappointed in me, that I was sure God must feel the same way about me.

After all, I was supposed to be a strong minister of God, but I was a failure.  Worse yet, even though others tried to tell me it wasn’t so, I knew that God knows my heart, so how could He possibly love me or forgive me?  I couldn’t even forgive myself.  After the funeral, I couldn’t bear to be around my sister and my other relatives, who I was sure hated me too, so I went home with my husband and my children, who comforted me.  Yet, I couldn’t believe that the Lord would want to comfort me, and so I fell deeper into depression, as I walked in the valley of the shadow of death, forgetting this important thing…

Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for You are close beside me.
Your rod and Your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.

(Psalm 23:4-5  NLT)

It is only now, as I sit here, writing these words, that I can see the truth.  God was with me in that dark valley.  Not only was He with me, He was close by me, protecting me and comforting me the whole time, yet, because I had given up on myself, and more importantly, on Him, I felt no comfort.  It is only now, as I read the timeless words of the 23rd Psalm, that I realize if I had gone to the gathering after Mom’s funeral, that He would have honored me by preparing a feast before all who were against me, and anointing my head with oil.  Instead of allowing Him to fill my cup to overflowing with blessings, I allowed self-righteousness and self-pity to fill my cup to overflowing, a cup that also overflowed with pain, fear and illness.

Two weeks after my mother died, I was admitted to the hospital with C-diff, a horribly debilitating and sometimes deadly stomach infection.  I was now out of work, uninsoured, living on only $500 a month, and so sick I thought I was dying.  I remember praying in the ER this scripture from  Jeremiah, more to convince myself, than out of faith, because I was truly convinced that I was dying, and going to hell.

14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.

(Jeremiah 17:14  NKJV)

I was quickly descending into the deepest, darkest depression of my life, and I still had a little farther to fall.  A week or two after I left the hospital, my daughter and her family, who had been living with us at the time, moved more than 700 miles away.  Suddenly, our house was empty.

Then, there was the church that I was attending at the time.  I was no longer in church every Sunday, and whenever the doors were open.  Instead, the pain and the medication I was taking, made it very difficult to go to church and sit for hours, not to mention the fact that I was afraid to drive myself, because I would fall asleep at the drop of a hat.  I also found myself dozing in church, which made me feel extremely guilty.  Then, there were different “ministers” who would pray for me.  Some would declare I was healed, and because they said so, I should feel better, but the fact was, I wasn’t better.  I also felt that the Lord told me that this was something I was going to have to walk through, and when I expressed this, I was accused of having weak faith.  One visiting “minister” even said that I had brought this chronic pain on myself, because I wasn’t faithful enough.

In my ever deepening descent into the dark pit of depression, I found myself at the bottom.  I no longer left the house, except to go to my doctors’ appointments, and I cried constantly.  I was consumed by pain, both physical and mental, and I saw no way out of the darkness.  When my husband treated me with lovingkindness, I felt so unworthy of his love, but he never gave up on me.

Through his kindness, and through the wisdom and kindness of the Christian counselor I saw, I began to ascend out of the deepest darkness.  However, I never fully recovered.  I still struggle with depression, and I still live with chronic pain, although thankfully, it is no longer unending.  I hurt most of the time, but occassionally, I do have  good days, and I am thankful for them.  Yet, there is one area that I haven’t fully recovered from.  You see, I felt that I lost the purpose for my life.

Chains are Gone

And then, the Lord began to minister to me today, reminding me that anyone who knows the good he ought to do, and doesn’t do it, sins, and as I began to write and ponder on that, He led me to the next scriptures…

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:4-9  NLT)

Do you know what?  I’ve forgotten to rejoice in the Lord!  Do you know that my husband and I have lived off of his small pension only, for more than three years?  Yet, the Lord made a way for us to keep our home, and during a time when we’ve had less to live on than ever before in our married life, our house looks better than it ever has, and we’ve actually had more through the generosity of others, that God moved to act on our behalf.  Isn’t that a reason to rejoice?

You see, I’ve been so caught up in my pain and depression, that I took my focus off God, and those things that are true and honorable, and right and pure and lovely, and admirable, and I looked within myself, at my chronic pain and the losses that I’ve suffered, and as I did so, the blackness smothered me with hopelessness.  I stopped fighting the good fight, until today, when the Lord spoke so clearly to me, urging me to put on my armor and fight back against the enemy of my soul, and against the darkness of my own mind.

Therefore, let me share the good things that God has done for me in the midst of my pain.  He has given me a few good, pain-free days, and even though most days are still really painful, some days, the pain is actually tolerable, and I rejoice in that too.  After more than three years of doing battle with Social Security Disability, I finally won my case, and I now receive my disability pay, and though it might not seem like a lot by some people’s standards, to me, it is huge.

In the midst of our poverty, my husband and I didn’t starve, for God provided us with food assistance.   Although it has been very hard for me to live so far away from my children and my ten grandchildren,  He has made a way for us to see them a couple of times a year.  No, it might not be as often as I’d like, but a little is better than none, isn’t it?

Then, what do I do, when I’m at home, so far away from the children and grandchildren that I love so much?  I have a wonderful and loving husband, who has been patient and kind to me.  When I have so much, why should I dwell on the bad things in my life?

I serve the Creator of the universe, and He loves me.  He never stopped loving me, and it was only when I began to focus on my problems, rather than the good things He has done for me, that I fell into darkness.  And now, today, even though I’ve been fighting nausea and sickness all day, I found that as I began to focus on Him once again, even though I don’t feel well, it is well with my soul.  Thank You Father, for Your unending kindness and Your undying love.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

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