I got fed up with being sick. Like totally fed up. I decided that maybe I needed to get before the Lord on my face, fasting, like good old Jehoshaphat and his people in 2 Chronicles 20. So I desperately laid prostrate before God this morning, sobbing, saying, “Lord, I don’t know what the heck to do, but my eyes are on you.” Over and over, I prayed the names of God. I sang worship songs. I played Bible-roulette (where you open up the Bible to random pages and ask God to speak to you). I doused myself with holy oils. I prayed in English, in tongues, in song, and in scripture. I stubbornly refused to move until I heard from God. And I wanted Him to HEAL me. Everything. My body, mind, and Spirit. I began to lament and yell at God.
I accused Him of not listening, not caring, and abandoning me. I questioned why I was even on my face in the first place. I told God that I was exhausted. I couldn’t bear the pain anymore. I couldn’t handle being so sick. I knew that He has abundance for me and that He wants to use me, but I was literally crippled. This was when the tears started to flow freely, which showed me that this is indeed where the most raw nerve lives. I knew that this was the point that I was building up to all morning, and the air was heavy with power and pregnant with possibility. Knowing that it really was time to open up the Bible, I opened to Jeremiah 15 and started reading Jeremiah’s lament in verse 18:
Why has my pain been perpetual
And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
Will you indeed be to me like a deceptive stream
With water that is unreliable?
Umm…didn’t I just say that? Oh, man, Jeremiah. I totally get you. I knew that this was the verse that God had ordained for me this morning, because Jeremiah’s words were pretty much my words verbatim. My eyes scanned down the page in Jeremiah, and my heart leapt that God responded to Jeremiah’s cry immediately following this statement. I saw the words, thus says the Lord, and I knew that He had a word for me as well. I was sure that it was the perfect word. But sometime “perfect” is not exactly the same thing as what we want to hear. And this was NOT what I wanted to hear. So God responds with this perplexing statement:
“If you return, then I will restore you—
Before me, you will stand;
And if you extract the precious from the worthless,
You will become my spokesperson.
Aww, crap, God, really? Are you going to call me out on my stuff? No sweet, fluffy, feel-good promises with no strings attached? I wanted to hear:
“Yes, absolutely, let me end your suffering immediately. Since you say it like that, I see your point. Zap. No more pain.”
But no. He doesn’t say that in this passage. He beckons Jeremiah to return. He also tells him to let go of the worthless in order to focus on the precious.
Peterson’s The Message refers to this returning as a call to stop complaining. I’m not sure that this is God’s message to me this morning. In this passage, God called me out on my wandering heart. I have been so disgruntled by my suffering that I took my recovery into my own hands. When my body failed to heal with restored nutrition and weight gain, I stomped my little foot and said, “Fine! If I’m not feeling better anyway, then I will not push my tube feeds and not eat what is on my meal plan! I will hold onto my eating disorder because my body is falling apart anyway. Why not at least placate myself emotionally while I am physically miserable?” This has been my internal and not-so-subtle act of rebellion. Nutrition is a complicated thing with my body, so this process is always one that requires honesty and openness about what my body can and cannot handle. Instead of being completely forthcoming, I have tried to yank they steering wheel away from my skilled providers and go off on my own course. This can be dangerous. God is beckoning me back to the collaborative process, and even more importantly, He is calling me back to Himself.
Physical healing is not the ultimate goal. Union with the God of the universe is. Knowing God as faithful is ultimately more important than desperately seeking something of this world, even physical healing.
I did NOT enter into my prayer time this morning to hear that God wants me to return to a place of complete integrity and trust. That is not fun, and it is way too practical. I wanted supernatural wind and a tangible kiss of the Spirit on my nose, followed by total and complete healing. But He is calling me to extract the precious from the worthless.
The precious part is knowing Him. That is enough.
So, no, I didn’t leave this morning’s prayer time with complete healing. I really hoped that I would. But I got direction, and it was pretty crystal-clear. Really, that’s what Jehoshaphat received as well. A member of his choir gave their army clear directions about how to proceed in battle. They followed the directions exactly as they were spoken, and their enemies destroyed themselves. All Jehosophat and his army had to do was show up and see the work of the Lord.