By: Levi Tackett
It may seem hard to believe but, pain is a good thing.
I know that we always associate pain with a negative thought or feeling. You only need to ask a mother about pain to understand that it is, and can be, a good thing. After watching my wife endure all of the pain and changes her body has gone through, she would gladly sign up for it all again because of the three beautiful children we now have.
You see, sometimes pain is a necessity and not a punishment. If something in your life is worth pain to achieve, it's meaning and importance will not only become important to you, but it will become part of who you are. Even after the victories we experience in life, we are often greeted with a painful transition to a new place physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It's this pain that often discourages Christians from continuing on and stops us from growing into all that God has in store for us.
The problem is, we are programmed to perceive pain as a negative. Did you know that without pain, we could be mortally wounded and not know? Pain is a way God designed our bodies to alert us that something has changed and to channel our focus to find out what is really going on.
This passage of scripture I am about to quote comes from the book of Joshua. It's a story about the Israelites as they began to inhabit and take possession of the Promised Land.
“WHEN ALL the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted and there was no spirit in them any more because of the Israelites. At that time the Lord said to Joshua, Make knives of flint and circumcise the [new generation of] Israelites as before. So Joshua made knives of flint and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. And this is the reason Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way after they came out of Egypt. Though all the people who came out were circumcised, yet all the people who were born in the wilderness on the way after Israel came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the Israelites walked forty years in the wilderness till all who were men of war who came out of Egypt perished, because they did not hearken to the voice of the Lord; to them the Lord swore that He would not let them see the land which the Lord swore to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. So it was their uncircumcised children whom He raised up in their stead whom Joshua circumcised, because the rite had not been performed on the way. When they finished circumcising all the males of the nation, they remained in their places in the camp till they were healed. And the Lord said to Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you. So the name of the place is called Gilgal [rolling] to this day. And the Israelites encamped in Gilgal; and they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening in the plains of Jericho. And on that same day they ate the produce of the land: unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased on the day after they ate of the produce of the land; and the Israelites had manna no more, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” Joshua 5:1-12 AMPC
Now I know that circumcision isn't the most popular topic in the church, but let's not get sidetracked by the act but by the symbolism behind it. Let's just set the scene.
The Israelites, whom had been wondering in the wilderness for forty years had finally stepped over into this land God had promised to their fathers. They have finally arrived! Well of course, the first thing on everyone's mind was, "Now what?" God had a plan.
The act of circumcision had begun with Abraham and was a religious tradition for the Israelites to help separate themselves from the world. As often happens, while traveling in the wilderness, traditions were forgotten—or simply not deemed important to keep. God wanted to celebrate with His children by once again establishing their separation from the world and bringing them back to Him. You see, the pain wasn't a punishment, but a chance to remind God's people that they belonged to Him. The pain was worth it.
As you read in the passage that after the men were circumcised, they spent three days recovering in their tents. As per Jewish tradition, three days before Passover, the sacrificial lamb was brought into the home to live with the family. This was done to help the family bond with, and bring a more significant meaning to, the lamb that was to atone for the sins of the family. These men spent time healing with the lamb! Now if you missed that symbolism, I'm not sure I have enough time or words to explain it. If you continue on in Joshua, the next obstacle in the path of the Israelites is Jericho. We all know what happened in that particular battle.
You see, when we have stepped over into something new, often pain comes, not to punish us but, to prepare us for a bigger victory waiting on us. Pain is God's way of revealing what needs to be cut away from ourselves and gives us the opportunity to lay aside our pride while we heal and spend time with the Lamb. Ask yourself this, is the amount of pain I feel worth not seeing what lies ahead?
Shutting Up Our Biggest Problem: Us
By Levi Tackett
First off, let me start out by saying, I’m not a great writer. Without the very talented Ms. Emerald Barnes, this blog post would read more like a sixth-grader’s essay than a grown father of three. Having already set the bar low, let’s talk about healing.
Healing is not an easy topic to talk about in most Christian circles, even the Pentecostal and Spirit-filled churches can sometimes disagree about this basic principal. There’s one infallible way to approach any topic when it comes to God, and that’s His Word. The best examples of healing can be found when reading about Jesus. Jesus never made anyone qualify themselves before He used God’s power to touch their lives and make them new again. Just think about that! Not having to make sure you were in the right church or reading the correct scriptures, listening to the right sermons, etc. Jesus simply met the people in their need. Sometimes healing happened because the actions of people were so desperate for a touch from God that they would risk breaking religious laws just for the chance to maybe be healed. Let’s take a look at one particular individual that did exactly that.
Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” The woman was well from then on. (Matthew 9:20-22)
According to Jewish law (Lev 15:19), this woman was thought to be unclean and should have stayed away from everyone, not out mingling with the crowd trying to touch the Man of God. Just think about how the people would react today if someone, whom we deemed unclean, would not only show up in our church but have the audacity to try and reach out to someone. I know the “churchy” response is to say, “No way that would happen in MY church!” Let’s be honest, we all judge another by their appearance the first time we meet them, it’s just our fleshly nature. This woman wanted a touch from God so badly, she never gave thought to the opinions of others or the fact of persecution for violating laws. She needed God and was determined to get what He had for her no matter the cost. One can only imagine what manifestation of healing would break out in our churches if we simply begin to desire a touch from God like this woman.
Now, on to another of my favorite healings that took place with Jesus. Blind Bartimaeus is a fascinating story, not just because a blind man received his sight instantaneously but because of Bartimaeus’s actions before he received.
They spent some time in Jericho. As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!” Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped in his tracks. “Call him over.”
They called him. “It’s your lucky day! Get up! He’s calling you to come!” Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus.
Jesus said, “What can I do for you?”
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
“On your way,” said Jesus. “Your faith has saved and healed you.”
In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.
Hallelujah! This man who was destined to beg for any semblance of a living is now given the greatest gift he could have ever imagined. Jesus asked what we think is a silly question but to God your heart and actions mean more than any great words could ever begin to describe. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was coming, he began to cry out even after the people tried to silence him. Far too often we miss out on blessings from God because we let other’s opinions and voices, our own insecurities, religious traditions, or simply lies from the devil silence our cries for help. It’s only when we reach that level of true desperation are we willing to shake things up and truly cry out to God.
Bartimaeus didn’t care what it cost; he was willing to pay the price to receive from the Man of God. His actions were even more telling of how badly Bartimaeus wanted his sight. In verse 50, he threw off his beggar’s clothes, symbolizing that never again would he have to go through that humiliating process of begging for a living. He was so confident in a man he couldn’t even see that he separated himself from his past and transferred himself into his future. Never again would he be called a blind beggar, his name was Bartimaeus.
While these healings are wonderful examples of God’s love and power, they also come with a responsibility. Healing is not just a physical manifestation of the impossible but an opportunity to change your way of thinking and talking. I’ll be willing to wager after he received his sight, Bartimaeus never let anyone call him Blind Bartimaeus again. That was who he used to be, not who he is now. I know this may offend some, but I hate the terminology Cancer Survivor. God never intended for His children to just survive but to thrive. When we tie the term cancer to ourselves, we are, in fact, identifying ourselves with cancer. Cancer is not who I am but rather a path God brought me through. As the book of James tells us: A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! (James 3:3-5). Our words can become our greatest assets or our biggest opponents. The choice is ours. Be careful that your words do not bind the blessings God has by planting those seeds of doubt into your heart and mind.
As a child of God, I cannot imagine a scenario when God has ever forgotten about me or simply refused to care for me. If we truly believe He is our Father, then we must know of His undying love and affection for us. Why then wouldn’t he want to see us healed, whole and well in every aspect of our lives? The problem isn’t God; it’s us. We allow the voices surrounding us every day to steal our blessings. God wants us whole in every area of our lives: spiritually, physically, financially, socially, and emotionally. Yes, God cares about our emotional and social lives as well. I urge you, if you don’t receive anything else from this blog post, receive this:
God loves you more than you could ever think or imagine, and He has only good and bright plans for your future. Are you willing to be like the people in these stories and do whatever must be done to get it and hold on to it?