A lovely word artist of a woman I know recently calls it “thick inky blackness.” My pastor calls it “the dark side of God’s will.” David penned in Psalm 23 “the valley of the shadow of death” and described in Psalm 139 that he had been in places where the darkness covered him, the light around him as night.
I wonder if you’ve been in a place like that? Despairing of life itself? If you’re there today, I want to hug you so much. But I can offer a prayer for you right now. You, oh you reading this, you have been prayed for.
We were living among the second largest unreached people group in the world and doing evangelism and discipleship as well as dipping our big toes into church planting. Life was so hard and so sweet. I had (as all mamas can claim) the prettiest baby girl. Big eyes and a tall nose as our Japanese so lovingly pointed out about her. My husband and I were pouring all the passion and energy of our twenty-something selves into loving those students. Like I said, life was hard but sweet.
I believed that since I was living my dream, since I was already in His glorious kingdom, that my need for healing had been satisfied. There really wasn’t space in my life for a lame gait. Oh no, I had to run with all strength and perseverance, there was certainly no time for a limp hip.
Somewhere, without intention (as is usually the case), my soul drifted from believing that I needed healing. I looked around and saw hopelessness and depression, evidenced by staggering statistics of suicide, further fanning the flame of our passion to share the hope and mercy of Jesus with our Japanese friends. How was there time for me to be broken? And if not time to be broken, I must have been entirely deaf to the notion that there was healing readily available to me in Christ Jesus.
I wonder if this plagues us as women in a specific way. Descendants from Eve and life-givers by nature – we care for church flocks, souls, aging parents, patients, students, babies, spouses. But who cares for us?
It’s far less complicated to rise above the need for care, pull up our proverbial boot straps and get it done.
No, its fine, we’re ok. We’re all ok.
Until we aren’t.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
These words fell on my thirsty heart, spoken by a woman who came to me in the valley of the shadow of death. She visited for a few days in Japan, not long enough to walk with me all the way through, but just a few steps. Alone, I would have read these words as spoken for my friends who didn’t know Jesus. But oh, now I had eyes to see them for myself. And they are for you today too.
Poor and brokenhearted, captive and bound. Mourning. Ashes. Weary with a faint spirit. Ruined. Devastated. Are these words resonating in your heart today? He knows. You aren’t okay.
Good news, healed heart, liberty and freedom from prison walls, comfort, beautiful headdress replacing ashes, oil of gladness and a garment of praise, a rooted oak of righteousness for His glory, repaired and built up. I could only want those in my wildest dreams, as if they were reserved for His select favorite, but not me. Oh, but that is not true! He is so for you, my friend. (As promised in Romans 8:28).
The freedom that was purchased for you on a cross at the place called Golgotha, that freedom given from the One who so dearly loves you, allows you to say to tell Him the truth; to say, “I’m not ok.” It’s hard to find healing if we don’t admit there’s a need. “Everything is fine, just fine, thanks for asking.”
Jesus said to them, “It is not the sick who need a doctor.” It may feel as though there are a thousand miles and a hundred brick walls between you and healing, but today, perhaps your one tiny but honest prayer can be a guttural cry to your Healer can be…
“I am not ok.”