In a sermon from Luke 7:36-50 by Matt Adair a few weeks ago, he made this statement:
‘The greatest power to set you free from the addictions, afflictions and assorted troubles of this world is the felt love of Jesus.”
I think we can all say we know the difference between believing we are loved and then feeling loved by someone. We have asked members of our church to share stories of a time when they really felt loved by Jesus. There is so much power in the stories of believers, so we hope you are encouraged by these.
Our third story is by member Katie Crosby:
If you’re not a close friend, a roommate, or in my Community Group, you most likely have a) no idea who I am or b) that I deal with severe chronic pain. If you lined me up amongst ten women, you probably wouldn’t pick me to be the girl who daily bears the weight of agonizing, debilitating, think-you’re-going-crazy, around-the-clock, pain in my entire back and neck. The truth is, my pain is invisible to the outside eye. I have no crutches or deformities. I’m not in a wheel chair and bear no scars. But on the inside of my body, I can literally feel that I’m “wasting away.”
The past seven years of dealing with the above has been an immense process. For many years, I did my best to conceal it and act like a normal person. To put it in Biblical terms, I was too stubborn and prideful to let many people, if anyone, into the vulnerabilities of my mind which resulted from the terror that was havocking my body. However, within the past year, the Lord loved me enough to take me to a place where I literally broke down. And yes, I will repeat that because it sounds odd: The Lord loved me enough to… I could write a book about the entire process of my heart and body over the course of these past several years, and I’d actually love to one day, but I only have a short amount of space to tell you one story out of many stories where God, in his infinite love, has reached down to me in the midst of a dark pit, and miraculously displayed how much he loves me. However, it’s been a process, but our God is a God of patient process.
I spent this past summer in Arizona seeing a rare doctor. I was alone one night in my cousin’s house and started reading Psalm 139. Before this moment, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cried for myself over the last ten years. At first I thought it was my personality, then I realized it’s because I haven’t allowed myself to mourn the loss of a lot of things due to the pain. Nevertheless, when I started reading Psalm 139 that night, I broke down. As in a snot-rolling-down-your-face-uncontrollably, making-obscene-noises-and-grunts type of sobbing. It freaking me out at first, but then I realized it was a breaking point. It was one of the most significant times I have mourned for myself; but more than that, for how much the Fall directly affected my body (i.e. intense pain). I sobbed and recalled when God saw all the men during Noah’s time and said, “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (Gen. 6:6). God mourned over the Fall, too. It’s Biblical. And as it’s taken me years to finally personally mourn for how it has affected my body, I’ve come to realize that we don’t mourn over the Fall as often as we probably should. (That could be another blog post).
As I was sobbing, the Holy Spirit illuminated my heart in a way that is rare, and I so felt this Psalm was specifically written for me. Because the fact is, God mourned the fall, and He mourns that my body is this way. As Psalm 139 says, He “know[s] when I sit and when I rise; [He] perceives my thoughts from afar… [He is] familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue [He] know[s] it completely.” Essentially, God knows and experiences my severe pain and all the repercussions that come with it more than I do. One, because He is God; but two, because He literally paid for my pain on the cross. The Lord hated my suffering (and your suffering) so much that He came down to earth, and literally became that pain and oppression for us, by paying for it on the cross. This fact brings joy in the midst of pain, and hope in the midst of sorrow. God has conquered my pain, and if I have to live with it for the rest of my life, I know there will be a day when “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4). Oh, how this pain has made the Gospel more real to me and heaven so much more sacred to my heart! That is God loving me. He cares far more about my love for him than my contentment in this world, because I’m not made to be satisfied with this world. I’m made to love and be loved by God.
God is not surprised by my suffering or your suffering. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:10). And God is not wasting my suffering or your suffering. He is so majestic and holy and powerful, that he weaves the pains and sufferings of our lives into a beautiful picture of love and goodness and grace. Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” so that we will never have to say that. I have experienced the Lord more closely in pain than in happiness, and I’ve seen the Lord sanctify my heart over the last seven years in a way I would never have experienced if it had not been for this pain. So yes, I mourn. And though it’s a daily battle and a process that might not look pretty most of the time, I simultaneously and by God’s grace alone, rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.