For His Glory and Our Good

Friends, today I want to talk to you about healing. Natural, supernatural, the whole nine yards. We live in a broken world, with broken people and that brokenness manifests itself in various ways. Sometimes it shows up in our relationships, sometimes in our physical health, sometimes in our emotional health.  Whichever area it might be, we can pretty much guarantee that all of us have experienced hurts in one or all of those areas. We beg and plead that God would heal us, and yet sometimes He doesn’t, or at least that’s how it seems. But I want us to explore a different thought today, and to dare to believe that God is healing all of us and using our stories for our good and His glory.

Travel with me to John, chapter 9. The story beings with Jesus coming upon a man who was blind from birth. His disciples then asked Him, who had sinned to make the man blind? Was it him or his parents? Jesus said neither, but that this man was born blind so that Jesus could heal him and God would be glorified through it. Let’s look at that again. The man was born blind so that God would be glorified through the healing. When healing happens God is glorified and good is done in our lives. Now follow me to Acts chapter 3. Peter and John come upon a lame man at the temple gate. He is begging and he asks them for money. Peter tells the man that he doesn’t have money for the man but what he does have he gives to him. He then says “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene– walk!” The man’s leg strengthened and he was not only able to walk but he was leaping! This man was lame for who knows how long, maybe from birth, and I bet he had been begging to be healed for a long time. Wishing and waiting to be able to use the legs that wouldn’t work. I bet he believed that he was stuck in his crippled state, never to walk again. And yet, healing came! And he was walking and leaping and praising God, and people took notice of him. They were like, “hey… I know that guy. He’s the one that sits at the temple gate, ya know the one who can’t walk. Is he leaping right now? What the!” and verse 10 tells us that “they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” After the healing Peter preaches to the people, telling them that it was not him that performed the miracle, but it was Jesus through him. He encouraged them to repent and believe, giving them grace for that which they hadn’t known yet. And in chapter 4 we learn that many came to believe and their number came to 5,000. Through the healing glory was brought to God and people were saved! Can I get a hallelujah, amen! God uses our hurts, and our brokenness so that He might be glorified, for our own good, and so that people will hear of our healing and come to know the savior.

Those two stories were supernatural healings, and immediate, so you might be asking why that hasn’t happened to you. First I want to remind you that those men lived in their brokenness for a long time. The one man was born blind and the other man was lame for who knows how long. But sometimes God chooses to heal us on the spot because that would bring Him the most glory and bring the most people to Himself, but then sometimes He invites us to join Him a healing journey. This kind of healing is slow and steady. It doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes it feels like it will never happen. Maybe you struggle with strong emotions (me) and you think, “Lord will this always be the way I react or think. Will I always struggle here? Will I never be healed?” Or maybe your relationship with your parents is broken, and you think “Lord, will we always fight? Will we never find freedom and reconciliation?” Or maybe you or someone you love is very sick, and you think “Will I or they ever be healed? We’ve been fighting for so long, when will it end?” And I want you to know that God hears you. I bet it feels like He doesn’t. Sometimes I think He can’t hear me. But I know that He does. He hears us through the tears, and in the late nights, and in the doctor’s office when we hear the final diagnosis and the only words that can come out are “why God?”. He heard Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 when he is begging Him to remove the symbolic thorn from his side, to remove the “messenger of satan to keep him from exalting himself”. To heal him of the sin and the brokenness in his heart. Maybe he struggled with pride, or maybe he struggled with doubting himself, something I know very well. Whatever it was, he wanted it gone, but God said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness.” Immediate healing wasn’t in the cards for Paul, but God’s grace throughout the journey would be enough. And God’s power would be shown to be perfect through his weakness. God was inviting Paul on a journey for his good and God’s glory and Paul’s response was something like, “Ok God… if you say so. If you say your power is made perfect than I will boast in my weaknesses.” Paul who used to be Saul, the Christian killer, became a man who served God wholeheartedly and He promised to continue to use him, even his weaknesses.

Healing comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s a gradual process, sometimes it’s immediate, sometimes healing doesn’t come in this life but in the next. And sometimes healing is already there we’re just not walking in it. I know I’m guilty of that. But friends, healing will always come. Maybe not in our timeline or in the way we expect it to. It would have been great if God was like, “Ok Paul, thorn gone, go do your thang.” But honestly Paul would have missed out on such intimacy with Jesus. When we’re desperate for the healing, we are desperate to know Jesus more because we know the healing comes from Him! And sometimes He wants to use people or things to help in the process. For example, once a week I see a counselor to talk through my emotions and try to figure out what the root of them is. God has already used that wonderful lady to help me dig up the junk to see what’s causing it. Oh sweet freedom. Oh sweet healing. I know it’s on it’s way! But everyone’s struggle is different. Maybe you struggle with lust. Maybe porn is your downfall. There are computer programs that can help keep you accountable to someone! Maybe you too struggle with emotions or past baggage and you need someone to help walk you through it. I encourage you with all my heart to seek out a counselor or someone in a similar position. My life is a testimony to the good and healing that can happen through that. Maybe your family is falling apart, and you don’t see God’s hand in it, and you long for reconciliation but you’re beginning to doubt it will ever happen. Reconciliation is on it’s way friends, God heart is for it, and He is not in dissension. It might not come when you want it to, but God is in the business of fixing broken relationships. Or maybe you’re struggling with the fact that you aren’t seeing physical healing in your life or in a love ones life. Maybe your mom or dad or uncle or aunt still has the cancer they’ve been fighting so hard against. In those dark moments you cry out, “Where are you Lord?” And it doesn’t make sense that they’re sick, and you start to doubt that God really is doing good things, and you can’t help but wonder, does He really care? It’s those moments that He’s whispering, maybe even shouting, “I am here and healing is coming. It might not be the way you want it or like it and it may not be when you want it to happen, but healing is on it’s way.”

As believers, we get to walk in hope. We get to live like Abraham, trusting that God is working even when we don’t see what He’s doing. But I need you to understand that I know this feels so impossible sometimes. I don’t want you to think that I’ve got this trusting God thing under control. In fact, I’m in counseling because I have a really hard time trusting Him. I’m the one who God invited to join in the journey of healing. It isn’t and hasn’t been immediate. It’s taking a lot of working and having to change the way I think. It’s been painful and some days I feel more broken than I can bear. But I take heart, and so should you, for He has overcome the world and it’s hurts and it’s brokenness. In the moments when healing feels too far away I remember Lamentations 3:21-24. “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassion’s never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in Him.”

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An open letter to my littlest brother

My dear Ethan,

Six years ago our family got a call that would change our lives forever. They told us a story of a little boy who needed a family. He was born 2 and a half months early so his little lungs couldn’t do all they were supposed to do on their own, and he needed what is called a sleep apnea monitor because sometimes in the middle of the night his little lungs would stop working. He was tiny and sick but he needed a family, and we knew we were that family.

So you entered into our lives and it was so easy to love you. You with the tubes in your nose helping you breathe. You with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. It was like you were completely unaware of the fact that you were born into hardship. Joy was in your eyes and in your smiles and in your cute baby laughter. You captured my heart sweet boy, and it didn’t take long. You were my brother and I was your sister before the papers were signed that officially made you ours. Those papers didn’t change anything in my heart. And I am still so proud that you are ours, and so honored that God chose us to be your family. You took our family by storm, and you were spoiled and snuggled, whether you wanted to be or not. You have been so dearly loved from before you were even born. We prayed for you sweet boy, and the creator of the world, who made you, perfectly ordained that you would enter into our crazy chaotic family to make us better (and also more chaotic). As you can see by the pictures below, we loved you from the moment you came into our house and we will love you forever.

ethan 1 ethan 2 ethan 3

Sometimes I worry that you will feel like you don’t fit or that you aren’t one of us because you are adopted. Or that you will begin to question your identity and worth because the woman who gave you life couldn’t keep you with her. But I pray that the truth will take root in your life and grow strong like a tree in your heart. The truth is that I believe your mom was sick and she couldn’t take care of you and so she let us do that for her. And while your birth parents couldn’t care for you, your heavenly father was planning and He knew. He knew the complexities of your little life before you were even born and He was preparing us for you. You are not a mistake, and you being in our family is not a mistake. He saved you sweet boy and set you apart for a great work that He has for you to do. I know that I know that I know that God has huge plans for you. He saved you, He gave you the strength to survive when your little lungs didn’t want to work. He gave you a family that loves you more than you’ll ever know. He gave you a new mom and a new dad who love you more than they love themselves and I see them fight for you everyday. Not only do they fight for you to get the help you need, but they fight for your heart and your love. They fight for your soul, that you might know the God who saved you and set you apart. They will love you through every hurdle you have to overcome and I know they praise the Lord for you. Your life is a gift to us that enriches our own. With each facetime call, or hilarious visit, or when you wore a bowtie for my wedding even though it was uncomfortable, my love for you grows. When I think it can’t grown any more, it keeps on growing.

ethan 4 Ethan 5 Ethan 6 ethan 7

As I look through the bajillion photos I have of you, I’m getting a little teary eyed. I’m remembering all the hilarious and wonderful memories. I’m remembering your Elmo phase, that red furry monster was your BFFL Everywhere you went Elmo followed. Mom and dad bought me Elmo pajama pants so that when I was at school I would have something to remember you with. I remember that when I left for school my freshman year we had to bring you to someone who could watch you for the weekend. You were still in foster care at that point, so we couldn’t take you out of the state. When we dropped you off I cried and cried and cried. Each time I come home and give you a big hug, my heart is filled with the same joy I felt when you first became my brother. I’m so thankful that our parents heard the voice of the Lord and obeyed Him. That when God called them to foster care, they didn’t hesitate. That even when told that you were coming to us with complications, they didn’t waver. And that when the opportunity to officially add you to our family presented itself, they took it. And sweet boy, our lives have not and will never be the same.

 

ethan on swing ethan on swing 2 Ethan and I

Adoption is such a beautiful picture of what God does for each of us. He welcomes us into His family with open arms, and we welcomed you into ours with the same. We might not share blood, but that doesn’t matter. You are my brother, Ethan Justus Knudsen. And because of the gift of adoption, justice was served in your life. You were redeemed and rescued. You were set apart. My Effies, may you never doubt that you are loved. May you never doubt that you are a part of the Knudsen clan (whether you want to be or not). May you never doubt the plan that God has for you, for He who has begun a good work in you will be sure to complete it. I can’t wait to see the man you grow up to be. I hope someday you will read this in a moment of questioning, and that the Lord will whisper His goodness in your life and remind you of His purpose for you. That even from birth He was working all things for your good. Thank you for wearing a bow tie at the wedding, and for not getting doritos on your white shirt. You’re the best. I love you like a fat kid loves cake.

Love,

Your big sister

ethan eating doritos

photo credit: KD Burke Photography

ethan and sammy

Photo credit: KD Burke Photography

ethan with sign

photo credit: KD Burke Photography

ethan with bow tie

Photo credit: KD Burke Photography