You and I are asked to expect miracles in the face of the impossible, but how is this even possible when you’ve been ill for many many years?
How can we continue to believe in the midst of pain and suffering?
Jim Collins’ book ‘Good to Great’ tells of something called the Stockdale paradox.
Admiral Jim Stockdale was in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. He was shot down and held captive for 8 years in the Hanoi Hilton, the infamous POW prison where he was tortured over 20 times.
In a public interview after his release he was asked why he survived and others didn’t.
He responded by saying, ‘the way I survived was this; I realised I had to retain a fundamental belief that I would prevail in the end. But I also had to confront daily the brutal facts of my current reality.’
This is how admiral Jim Stockdale choose to expect miracles in the midst of his torture. It is the same no matter what prison you are in, a physical prison or a prison of sickness.
I wonder if the leper that approached Jesus in Matt 8 held a similar belief system in his heart; dreaming of the miracle whilst coping with the horror of his situation. Are you dreaming of a better tomorrow that looks impossible?
But my righteous one will live by faith. Heb 10:38
If you’ve been ill for many years, you probably think your life will never change. Maybe you’re scared to get your hopes up in case you’re disappointed.
The leper may have thought and felt the same but placed his hope in the goodness of God.
I believe this caused him to never give up hope, to keep on believing and to expect miracles. I wonder if he had heard about Jesus or seen him heal from a distance.
He knew Jesus was his only hope.
THE BRUTAL FACTS
The fact the leper was full of leprosy meant he had been that way for many years. Imagine the conditioning and the strong-holds.
There were no doctors, operations or medications to help. How difficult it must have been to believe for the impossible for that length of time.
I love how the leper kept on believing despite the odds. He didn’t let the unsightly state of his body contain him.
He didn’t allow the physical and emotional pain hinder him in his dreaming.
Are you living with a condition in your body where there is no worldly hope? Are there no operations, medications or doctors to help you?
I know exactly what this feels like. It feels like life has stopped and now all that’s left is a shell-like existence, spectating everyone else, desperate for life to hurry up and be over.
Have you suffered for so long, you realise that death is a blessing. I imagine the leper felt this way also. This is the “ brutal facts of you current reality”
Our challenge, like that of the leper and admiral Jim Stockdale, is whilst confronting this on a moment to moment basis, to retain the truth that you will prevail in the end, to live by faith and expect miracles.
The only way you and I can do this, is by holding onto the promises of God in His Word and speaking them over yourself.
“I am healed by the stripes of Jesus…..no sickness formed against me will prosper…..the Lord is restoring me to health and healing my wounds…..I will not die but live and declare the works of the Lord….”
Write them out, post them on your walls and cupboards, meditate on them, pray them and personalise them.
No matter how bad or lengthy your situation, cling onto God’s promises before the enemy steals them away from you. Believe there are brighter days ahead!
The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. Prov 4:18.
If you have a bad spell, where you stumble and get disheartened, that’s okay. You don’t need to do this perfectly. God will see to it that you get your fire back. Mountain climbs are not meant to be easy.
When you fall, you don’t fall back down to the bottom of the mountain, you just fall where you are.
DREAMING OF A BETTER TOMORROW
In Ephesians 3:20 we’re told that ‘God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask, think or imagine, due to the power within us.’ We have to do the thinking, the imagining and the dreaming even if it looks unlikely or impossible.
Picture yourself running a marathon, even though the doctors say it’s not possible. Imagine yourself on that family holiday, even though you’re not well enough to earn an income.
Picture your life in the future, what will it be like? Faith is about dreaming of a brighter future, that God has a plan for your life which is far greater than your dreams.
Bill Johnson says ‘Hope is the soil in which faith grows’. We need to have hope for a better future before we have the faith for it. This isn’t about thinking positively but is based on God’s promises in His Word.
Don’t allow your thinking to limit God. The enemy seeks to contain and limit us by keeping us thinking in terms of the natural realm. God is supernatural and has limitless resources at his fingertips.
May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised! Deut 1:11
It’s God’s heart to bless you more than you can imagine. His dreams are far bigger than your own. God is a good God. Expect His favour, expect miracles. Dare you believe?
Have a great day
For more in this series:
THE BENEFITS OF PRAISE: DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE? (PART 4)