When it doesn't feel good
Life isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes, there is rain. How do you handle the storms of life? What do you do when what God allows doesn't feel good? How do you respond to painful seasons?
Today, I visited my Aunt Mattia who is very ill. She informed the family that she is now tired and ready for her heavenly reward. Though we all love her and selfishly wish she could stay with us always, we know we must let her go. Her body is weak and weary from battling ovarian cancer.
Last August, I blogged about her story.
In my sleep, God told me she was sick. This happened while I was on my own sick bed, before the Lord healed me of two incurable autoimmune diseases that should have taken me out. One night, I had a dream that she was seriously ill. I saw her gravesite and the Lord told me she needed to go to the hospital to be seen.
Though the dream was upsetting, I was clear on what it meant.
It isn’t strange for me to see something like that while sleeping. God frequently deals with me through prophetic dreams. Whenever He does, I pay close attention.
When Aunt Mattia got the message that she needed to go get checked out, she responded with haste. I didn’t know until later that her children—my cousins— had been trying to get Auntie to go to the doctor, but she had been refusing.
Aunt Mattia later told me, “I believe the word of the Lord out of your mouth. When He said it to you, I knew I needed to go to the doctor.”
When she got to the emergency room, her abdomen was distended, as if she were expecting a baby. And since my aunt’s child-bearing years are long gone, doctors suspected something was wrong. Days later, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her belly was so big because of the “ascites,” which is a condition that causes the abdomen to fill with fluid in late-stage cancer.
One of the emergency room doctors told her, from the looks of things, the cancer had spread everywhere. It was likely in her brain and there was nothing that could be done. My cousin, Felicia, who was with her at the time, broke down. The news was devastating. That doctor told Auntie that his bluntness was to prepare her for the cold, hard truth.
But she didn’t accept that report.
My faith-filled aunt took that bad news to the Lord. Finally, the report came back: the cancer was Stage 3. It was also contained. Even though the cancer cells should have been floating freely in that fluid and should have traveled everywhere throughout her body, God didn’t let that happen.
Not too long after, she was declared cancer-free. Our whole family rejoiced. I shared her testimony each time I shared my own.
Months later, though, I had another dream. She had fallen ill again. The cancer had returned. And sure enough, the dream was prophetic. Even before she got to this point of being physically weak and ready to be with Jesus, I saw her current condition in my sleep a while back.
She came to me in my dream looking worn down and said, “I’m tired.”
I told my family about what I saw. I prayed. I still trusted God and yet, deep down, I knew this would not be an easy journey.
A few weeks ago, before going to Bermuda to minister during a women’s weekend celebration, I had to minister in our city. Aunt Mattia, though frail and feeling faint, told my cousin she had to come to hear me preach the gospel again.
“This might be my last time ever hearing her,” she told Felicia.
That night, it was an amazing time of rejoicing. The power of God fell. I prayed for Aunt Mattia. God gave her strength and she danced before the Lord. It was a beautiful sight to behold and one that I shall never forget.
After the service, she grabbed my hand and said, “Whatever happens, I’m not worried now.”
The other night, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and told me to pray for the family, and prepare for her transition. She will soon be going home to be with Jesus.
When I saw her today, Aunt Mattia was in and out of sleep as gospel music softly played in the background. The hospice nurse prepared the family for the inevitable. I helped Auntie however I could. She was having trouble keeping anything on her stomach. Nevertheless, she was not filled with hopelessness, fear and sadness. Her heart is still full of faith.
“God is able,” she said in a faint voice, just barely above a whisper, as she was propped up on multiple pillows.
“I’m just tired. I’m too weak to fight,” she added.
I told her to rest.
Her healing will not come on this side. We have accepted that. We are not giving up. We are simply saying yes to God’s plan to give Aunt Mattia the ultimate healing. She is ready to be with Jesus in Paradise.
That’s where you and I hope to go one day, too.
I remember when I was sick. Some days, the pain was so severe I longed for death. But God said, not yet. My work was not done. Aunt Mattia’s, on the other hand, is. And I know she will hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Spiritual maturity is accepting the will of God, even when it differs from our desired outcome.
Today’s experience makes me think about Jacob when he was on his death bed in Genesis 48. Before passing away, his son Joseph went to visit him. Jacob, the great man of God known as Israel, whose offspring became a mighty nation of chosen, set-apart people, pronounced a blessing over Joseph’s life. He also blessed Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. But there was a seeming mix-up.
In verse 13, Joseph picked up the young boys and brought them close to their granddad so Jacob could bless them. He put Manasseh near Jacob’s right hand and Ephraim near Jacob’s left hand. That way, Jacob could bless the older one first, with his right hand.
The greater blessing always went to the firstborn.
But in verse 14, the Bible says Jacob crossed his arms. He put his left hand on the oldest, Manasseh’s head, and his right hand on the youngest, Ephraim’s head. This was all wrong according to tradition!
Joseph initially thought his father’s old age and failing vision were to blame. In verse 17, scripture says this changeup displeased Joseph. He wasn’t happy about the apparent confusion. So Joseph moved his father’s hand to try to correct what he perceived as an error.
But verse 19 says Jacob refused to do things the traditional way. The switch was intentional. Jacob said of the unorthodox, God-ordained change, “I know, my son, I know.” Ephraim, the younger brother would be greater than Manasseh, the older brother.
Notwithstanding, both of them would be blessed, just not in the way Joseph was thinking.
Friend, that’s what the sovereignty of God looks like. He will switch up our plans and do things in unconventional ways. Sometimes, whether we like it or not, whether we prefer it or not, what displeases us, pleases God.
The way God chose to bless Joseph’s sons displeased him, but it pleased the Lord to do it that way. Who are we to try to correct our sovereign Lord?
His ways are not like ours. As Isaiah 55:9 NIV says, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Part of spiritual maturity is accepting the will of God in all things. It’s easy to enthusiastically say yes to the will of God and declare His greatness when things go our way. But God wants a yes and a praise when He takes us down a path we don’t prefer.
We must be like David when he declared in Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the Lord at all times and His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” That’s the scripture I’m stirring into your cup of inspiration today.
As you drink down the contents of your cup, remember that David wrote this psalm of praise we love to quote while he was on the run. He was hungry and desperately trying to preserve his life as jealous King Saul sought to kill him. Things weren’t going well for David in the natural when he said “I will bless the Lord at all times.”
And yet, He kept on praising. He continued rejoicing. He submitted to the will, purpose and sovereignty of God. That’s what you have to do, too.
That’s what’s I’m doing.
When it doesn’t feel good, God is still good, and yet worthy of praise—at all times.
Now let’s pray.
God, I will bless Your name in good times and bad. Whether the outcome feels good or painful, I know You are sovereign and You never make a mistake. You are faithful and You do all things well. Please give me peace, comfort, and help me, in all things, to accept Your plan and submit to Your perfect will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
As always, thanks for reading and until next time... may today's cup of inspiration uplift, encourage, and empower you!
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