This has been a horrible winter in my region of the country for serious illness like the flu, pneumonia and bronchitis. I have lost count of how many of my colleagues, friends and family members have been sick this winter. I, on the other hand, have escaped what we are sarcastically referring to as “the plague” in my office. Woot-woot!
But in hearing my friends talk about their illnesses and how long it is taking them to regain their strength, I recall the time that I had pneumonia a number of years ago. I remember how my body felt as the illness came on, the severe discomfort of being in throws of the fever and coughing, and the full-body fatigue that kept me in bed for marathon naps. Just taking a shower sent me back to bed for a two hour coma-like sleep. I have never been so weak. My body was fighting an illness that was trying to kill me and thanks to modern medicine and prayer, my body won. I never had the concern that I would die, but I did question how long it take for me to regain my strength. I had experienced such a dramatic physical set-back that it wasn’t overnight bounce-back.
Have you stayed healthy this winter or have you been one of the casualties? If you have managed to stay healthy, what are your tricks? We’re still in cold and flu season, so share with the other readers what you do to stay healthy so we can all benefit! Do you juice, make healthy smoothies, exercise? What’s your secret? Leave a Comment below!
Our physical bodies mirror our souls in many ways. And one of those ways is in the area of health. When our body is under attack from a virus or infection, we say, “I think I’m coming down with something.” We can feel that something just isn’t right. Sometimes we get more warning than others; but most of the time, unless we’re asleep at the onset of the symptoms, we can tell that our body is beginning to engage in immune system warfare. Our white blood cells are rushing to the scene inside our body to bring healing, and all of this internal warfare causes us to feel tired and depleted. Our bodies can’t sustain normal energy output while fighting a major internal attack which leaves our energy reserves abysmally low both during and after an illness.
Our soul is exactly the same. When circumstances throw “viral and bacterial infections” into our life, our soul goes into battle. Just as with illness, sometimes the descent into full-fledged soul-sickness is gradual and we can feel like we’re “coming down with something”. Other times, it seems as though we just woke up one morning and the world had changed overnight. And our new normal is making us sick.
Either way, our soul has methods that it uses to try to recover from injuries and illness. None of us like to feel hopeless, depressed, full of anxiety and fear, or insecure and unloved. Would you agree? We want those intruders to be evicted from our emotional spectrum – immediately. But unlike our physical bodies that have a pretty perfect method for fighting illness, our souls have often developed incorrect means of ridding us of the intruders that bring those feelings. We have learned methods from our families, our friends, our education and our relationship with God. Some of those methods work and others don’t.
And here’s the rub: when our souls are under attack from the intruders that come with trauma, disappointment and loss, we don’t have the energy in our soul to get stronger in faith. We’re hanging on by a thread. I could barely dry my hair, let alone go for a three mile run with pneumonia; and many of us are experiencing the challenge of just getting through the day due to the soul sickness we are battling.
So we need to call in our soul’s immune system – the defense that God has given us while under attack. The Word of God and His presence are the “white blood cells” of the soul that bring healing, regardless of what we’re facing, how we got this sick, and how long we have been suffering.
Let me make this really personal to show you what I am talking about. I have gone through circumstances that ripped at my heart. I have had moments where I felt like vultures are eating my insides while I’m still alive. Anyone ever felt that way? And when circumstances are causing such internal pain, you can’t escape it. Everywhere you go, you bring yourself.
So let me unpack some of the incorrect methods that I have tried to bring relief to the pain in my heart: self-justification; rehearsing the situation over and over in hopes that I can find an answer I may have overlooked; getting angry internally at the one/s who are causing me this pain; getting sad as if my sadness will somehow be felt by the one/s who are hurting me and they will feel horrible about their actions; talking about the problem with my husband.
Let’s dissect my learned methods and look at why they didn’t make my soul healthy.
- Self-justification: As a Christian, I know that this a foolish practice. If I want God to fight my battles for me, telling him how “right” I am is as silly as a 5 year old telling their parents how to run the family finances. I am never “right” in every part of this situation. None of us are. And would I rather be “right” or “righteous” and allow God’s mercy and love to saturate my heart and the situation?
- Rehearsing the situation: While my mind is grasping for ways to fix the mess, I am wasting colossal amounts of time. I can spend hours chasing my tail and still not find a solution. I don’t have the answers but I know the One who does.
- Getting angry / Getting sad: Both emotions are not impacting the people involved in this situation one iota. God knows what I am going through and he is able to heal my heart. He is able to restore everything that looks broken beyond repair. Feeding negative emotions only makes me weaker.
- Talking about the problem: I covered the pointlessness of this practice in my last blog, “When the Water is Bitter: How to get that bad taste out of your mouth”.
So what am I to do with my soul sickness? There have times that the negative emotional intruders seemed to be winning and I felt sidelined by the enormity and suddenness of the onslaught. Just as my pneumonia made even the simplest tasks exhausting and caused me to spend days in bed, our soul sicknesses hamstring us in the same way. A downcast soul gets stuck. (And by the way, that’s the enemy’s plan for his attacks. The enemy of your soul wants you benched.)
So here’s what I have been practicing – and when I say practicing, I mean it. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. So I am doing my best every day to forget the past (the hurts, misunderstandings and unresolved issues) and press forward towards the hope that I have in my heart. My hope is in a person not in my imagination. The person is Jesus Christ and He is making intercession for me daily before the Father. I have nothing to fear because He is faithful.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
My favorite line in the Scripture above is the one that says, “and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal it to you.” That is SO true. But we have to be in fellowship with God in order for Him to be able to speak to our hearts and bring alignment to our unhealthy methods. I never cease to be amazed by all of the ways He can speak to us when we set out hearts to hear from Him. He can speak through the Bible (which is the most common way He speaks to me), through messages that others teach (I am a podcast addict!), through books and sermons and through everyday occurrences or dialogue with others.
Has God ever spoken to you in a way that you knew you were hearing His voice? How did He do it? Did you record what you heard for future reference and encouragement?
Our job is not to heal ourselves. Our job is to stay close to the One who can.
Maybe you’re in a season of your life where your strength has left you. Maybe you can’t get up and do what you used to do or what you know you’re called to do. If you’re experiencing soul sickness, lean into Him. He will remove your ungodly mindsets and bring healing to your heart. Remember, this soul sickness may feel like it’s going to kill you, but you will rise up with a testimony of God’s mercy and goodness if you don’t give up.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
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;
- When you are experiencing a situation that brings on soul sickness, what are your go-to methods to bring relief from the pain and discomfort?
- Have those methods worked for you? Has your soul really experienced healing and restoration in place of brokenness and bitterness?
- Have you ever looked to the Bible as the source of healthy, effective methods for healing?
God is our Creator, so it makes sense that the One who made us has the ways to fix us when we’re broken. I can’t imagine going through this life without Him!