Grace Always Heals Deeper

grace healing deeper+

 

Joni Eareckson Tada’s devotional Beside Bethesda begins with this dedication: “For my pain-pal friends I’ve met by the pool of Bethesda. With each devotional in this book, I pray for them… These friends, like me, deal daily with pain. Together we are discovering that grace always heals deeper.”

Grace always heals deeper.

These words hit me hard. I understand the truth behind them.

For most of us, ‘grace always heals deeper’ is a sweet idea, but we’d prefer the physical healing. Or emotional healing. Or the return of our wayward child. Or reversal of a financial disaster.

Those things are tangible. Visible. A cause for celebration.

But grace. That’s an invisible healing. To an outsider, nothing looks different. Life still looks shattered and God may seem uninvolved.

But that’s just to the casual observer. In reality, we are profoundly changed.

Grace gives us the courage to face anything, healed from the inside out. For this healing is not just for this life but for the next. It is Spirit-breathed, not humanly understandable. It is permanent, not temporary.

Nonetheless, I still beg God for the temporary healing of this life. And I have done that for decades.

The first time I remember was in third grade. Everyone was playing dodgeball and I was sitting on the sidelines, watching. As I always did. I had heard in church that if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can ask for anything. So I asked, “God, please, please heal me now. Right now, in front of my class. If you do, I’ll do anything you want.”

Then I boldly got up and walked across the gym, fully expecting to walk without a limp. But after a few steps, I realized that my limp was unchanged and my small faith was squashed. And I gave up on God. I hadn’t prayed much before, but that day I concluded that God wasn’t real.

Decades later, I begged God not to take the life of my son. Hours after my prayer, I held his lifeless body in the emergency room. God had not brought the healing I had pleaded for.

Years after that, I begged God to bring my husband back. When he left our family, I was devastated. I felt certain that God would eventually restore our family. So I waited and prayed. But restoration never came.

God answered ‘no’ to each of these requests for healing. Each time, I couldn’t understand why. I had asked for good things. And had promised to glorify God when they were answered.

In the third grade I became angry and disillusioned. I questioned God’s love for me. And I walked away.

Later, as a Christ-follower, I had a different response. Though the ‘no’ was still excruciating, I kept talking to God. I couldn’t walk away.

At times my devotional life felt hollow. It seemed like those who got the happy ending were God’s favorites. And I was somehow a lesser child because I didn’t receive what I wanted.

Or so I thought.

I did not know that as God denied each request, He was doing something much deeper in my life.

Every day I had to cry out to God for mercy. Every day I had to ask the Spirit for strength. Every day I had to cling to Jesus. Because there was nowhere else to turn.

I read and I prayed and I journaled and I wept. Every day.

Day by day I learned to lean into Christ. And as I leaned, He poured grace into me. Grace to accept His plans for my life. Grace to receive His power in my weakness. Grace to see this greater healing.

For grace always heals deeper.

My grace-saturated healing is not superficial. It is deep and enduring. It cannot be stolen by adverse circumstances. It has led to an abiding joy in Him that I wouldn’t exchange for anything.

Joni goes on to say in Beside Bethesda, “Somehow, in the midst of your suffering, the Son of God beckons you into the inner sanctum of His own suffering – a place of mystery and privilege you will never forget. I have suffered, yes. But I wouldn’t trade places with anybody in the world to be this close to Jesus.”

I wouldn’t trade places with anybody in the world to be this close to Jesus.

From a woman who struggles daily with quadriplegia and chronic pain and has also survived breast cancer, that almost sounds crazy. But the more I have suffered, the more I understand her words.

Joni recounts the day she and her husband Ken were at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. Many times she had pictured that pool and wondered why Jesus had passed her by for healing. Yet that day in Jerusalem, Joni suddenly saw things quite differently.

She writes,

“Thank You”, I whispered. “Thank You for the healing You gave me. The deeper healing. Oh, God, You were so wise in not giving me a physical healing. Because that ‘no’ meant ‘yes’ to a stronger faith in You, a deeper prayer life, and a greater understanding of Your Word. It has purged sin from my life, forced me to depend on Your grace, and increased my compassion for others who hurt. It has stretched my hope, given me a lively, buoyant trust in You, stirred an excitement about heaven, and pushed me to give thanks in times of sorrow. It has increased my faith and helped me to love You more. Jesus, I love You more.”

He didn’t give me the physical healing I had wanted, but the deeper healing I needed so much more.

God invites us all to experience this deeper healing. This miracle of a changed heart rather than changed circumstances. This healing that strengthens our prayer life, increases our faith, and helps us love Jesus more. This healing that is not shallow or fleeting; it will last throughout eternity.

For grace always heals deeper.

 

  • February 5, 2016 - 7:52 am

    Tamlyn - Thank you for this beautiful, beautiful post. You have no idea how much I needed to read that. It has given me new perspective, new hope, and strength for another day.ReplyCancel

  • February 5, 2016 - 8:56 am

    Marizanne - So thankfull for grace. Grace to strenghten us and teach us who we can be in Him. Grace to lead us and help us through the when,where and how. Grace to comfort us when the storm seems a bit rough. Grace to remind us Whose we are.

    Thank you, beautiful Lady. You reminded me today to embrace my situation and let grace hold me, lead me and secure me in Him.

    I really thank you for your writing todayReplyCancel

    • February 5, 2016 - 1:04 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Marizanne, for your beautiful comment. What a gift grace is.ReplyCancel

  • February 5, 2016 - 9:48 am

    Candy - Tears flowed as I read this . Thank you for sharing this perspective on grace from loss. Six years ago my husband, mom and dad all went to heaven within a four months time period. To lose the ones on earth that loved me the most has been devastating and even though I questioned God and felt like I wasn’t good enough for Him to answer my prayers for their earthly healing, I could not turn my back on Him. My relationship with God has changed as I lean into Him every day to be all that I need. It’s a struggle, but I know I must do it.ReplyCancel

    • February 5, 2016 - 1:09 pm

      Vaneetha - Oh Candy, I’m so very sorry for your losses. I can’t imagine how dark and excruciating that year was. So thankful you’re leaning into God, and so praying that you see that the losses of your precious family members had nothing to do with your not being good enough for Him to answer your prayers. He loves you fiercely – David Crowder’s song “Oh how He loves us” came to mind for you …ReplyCancel

  • February 5, 2016 - 9:58 am

    Roger Price - Long before the grim news of this day’s world chaos and current political wrangling, I cheerfully greet in my inbox your most recent commentary that ‘Grace Always Heals Deeper’. I just love how you clarify my thinking, my spiritual orientation. A concept so alien to the secular response to pain and evil, the very notion that drawing close to Jesus in the midst of suffering is a place of ‘mystery and privilege’ refreshes my weary soul – a soul that too often fails to recognize how the God of Sovereign Majesty works in our lives. Thank God for His grace that does indeed transcend all adversity, working the miracle of a changed heart rather than changed circumstances. And, thank God for Joni and Vaneetha!ReplyCancel

    • February 5, 2016 - 1:12 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you for writing Roger. Love this: Thank God for His grace that does indeed transcend all adversity, working the miracle of a changed heart rather than changed circumstances. Amen!ReplyCancel

  • February 5, 2016 - 12:31 pm

    Judy Johnson - Your words bring refreshing to my soul. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.
    Judy Johnson.ReplyCancel

    • February 5, 2016 - 1:14 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you for writing, Judy. Grateful God used this!ReplyCancel

  • February 5, 2016 - 2:20 pm

    Trudy - Wow! This is so beautiful, Vanessa. The tears pooled in my eyes, first for all your losses and then for the amazing truth that grace heals deeper. I’m so sorry you have been through so many losses. So devastating. I just heard a story this morning of a woman who had a large, inoperable tumor that miraculously disappeared. God heard all the prayers. Though I am so happy for her, I felt kind of discouraged. Why does God say “yes” to some and “no” to others? But God sent me this post. Grace heals deeper. What a blessing to go deeper “into the inner sanctum of His own suffering.” I can feel in your writing that beauty of deeper grace. Thank you so much for answering God’s call to write. Blessings and hugs to you!ReplyCancel

    • February 5, 2016 - 3:21 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you for writing, Trudy. It is such a hard question: Why does God say “yes” to some and “no” to others? I have asked that so many times myself. And sometimes I have felt Him say, through Scripture and a still small voice, that the refinement of my character and the blessing of His presence is a much greater mercy than healing.ReplyCancel

      • February 5, 2016 - 5:12 pm

        Trudy - “And sometimes I have felt Him say, through Scripture and a still small voice, that the refinement of my character and the blessing of His presence is a much greater mercy than healing.” That’s beautiful, Vaneetha. I will have to remind myself of this. 🙂 By the way, I’m sorry I called you “Vanessa” earlier. Oops…ReplyCancel

  • February 5, 2016 - 10:42 pm

    Effie Darlene Barba - Beautifully written and so inspiringReplyCancel

  • February 9, 2016 - 7:15 am

    Effie Darlene Barba - I thought you might enjoy this poem I wrote:

    An Act of Grace
    By Effie Darlene Barba

    As I look back over my life
    Remembering the pain and strife
    There were those nights of bitter tears
    When I awoke heart full of fears
    To stumble then to find my chair
    Where I would sit alone in prayer

    My Bible opened there I’d read
    Of hope, of love, of all I need
    Your songs of joy poured over me
    Salvation’s song had set me free
    And suddenly I saw a light
    A thought that brought such pure delight
    The pain had been Your act of Grace
    To Cause this heart to seek Your face
    And find in You, my love, my friend
    This hope and joy will never end

    And now, Dear Lord I know it’s true
    All that I need I find in you
    I leap to rise before daylight
    To sit with You, my pure delight
    And talk with You about each day
    That I might find Your will, Your way

    My Bible opened there I read
    Of hope, of love, of all I need
    Your songs of joy pour over me
    Salvation’s song has set me free
    And as each day with dawning light
    New trials come as is life’s plight
    Whatever comes it is Your Grace
    Allowing me to seek Your face
    I find in You, my love, my friend
    This hope and joy will never endReplyCancel

    • February 9, 2016 - 4:10 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you so much for sharing your inspiring poetry with me…and all of us.ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2016 - 6:27 pm

    Debby - Thanks so much for sharing this. It’s been so timely for me. I am struggling with not liking the story that God is writing for my life with unresolved chronic health issues. Yet I want to get to a place where I can have a more restful trust in His sovereignty and grace. How often I think of Joni’s testimony. I’m going to come back to this post from time to time for encouragement. thank you!ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2016 - 9:48 pm

      Vaneetha - You are welcome, Debby. Its so hard to adjust to change – especially when we have no idea how our story is going to end. But I’m thankful we can trust the One who is writing it, Who loves us extravagantly. Praying the Lord will feel especially near to you in your suffering.ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2016 - 8:50 pm

    Andrea - Thank you for your post, Vaneetha, and I am going to check out that devotional for sure. I know that God doesn’t answer prayers the way I want, for my good and His glory.ReplyCancel

  • February 14, 2016 - 1:36 pm

    Louise - Being able to face anything never seemed possible to me.
    It has been others` suffering, and how small my own problems are in
    comparison, that helped me endure.
    Fact is, I would not be able to relate to others` pain if my own life were
    without it.
    The rejects of majority society have always attracted me as much as
    others tend to be repelled by them. Sharing in their sufferings as well as
    their joys has been a privilege and a blessing, also a healing of sorts, albeit
    partial.
    Yet, my dream that things would improve during my mortal life time for
    those considered and treated as “less than” [not fully human] had finally
    died. It was a beautiful dream…
    I have gradually come to realize there are wounds too deep and too
    devastating to heal in this life. There are also wounded healers, those
    whose power to help is inseparable from participating in others`
    suffering [a concept explained in Henri Nouwen`s book “The Wounded
    Healer”].
    But I am equally convinced that complete healing will occur in the next
    life, the eternal one.
    Creator Jesus will see to it….

    Louise

    P.S. sorry if there are misspells – I cannot double check what I wrote
    because the subscription box covers a third of my screen.ReplyCancel

    • February 14, 2016 - 9:52 pm

      Vaneetha - It is hard to accept that we live in a broken world and some things will never be made right in this life. But thankfully God has all of eternity to lavish the riches of His grace on us. And none of us will ever regret the suffering we endured on earth because we will finally see His glorious purposes. Like you, “I am equally convinced that complete healing will occur in the next life, the eternal one.”ReplyCancel

  • February 17, 2016 - 9:44 pm

    Julene - Thank you for sharing your heart. You don’t know how many people the last two years I have shared this with who were deeply encouraged by your words.

    Your recent post was perfectly timed, as my own heart has been aching after losing our first child the day before Thanksgiving in a complicated 12-week old miscarriage, follows by intense medical complications. This week has been almost as hard as when it all first happened for some reason, so I thank you for sharing this. I so needed to hear it.

    Here is our own little story of Rex Anderson.
    http://immeasurablymore-jrw.blogspot.com/?m=1ReplyCancel

    • February 18, 2016 - 10:11 am

      Vaneetha - What a beautiful post, Julene. I’m so sorry about the loss of your precious Rex. Your story touched something deep in me, as I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks followed by a D&C. It was our first child as as well and I grieved long and silently. There was so much pain I could not put words to at the time– but you have done it so eloquently. I know others will be blessed by your testimony of our Lord’s sufficiency, since His grace always heals deeper…ReplyCancel

  • March 8, 2016 - 8:17 pm

    Pia - Thank you for this sharing. Just came across this. Have been in so much pain the past few years. Some days I really want to give up on GOD. Today is one such day – and I came across this.ReplyCancel

    • March 9, 2016 - 11:00 am

      Vaneetha - Oh Pia, I’m sorry its so hard. But God is there with you, even in this darkness…ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2016 - 1:45 pm

    Angel - Thank you for this. I’m going through a season of deep anxiety and intrusive thoughts. So thank you for this reminder. I have probably read this 10 times already and it speaks to me each and every time! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • October 28, 2016 - 12:56 pm

    Nneka - Hi Vaneetha, I really appreciate your blog. It has blessed me in many ways. Regarding this piece, it is hard to reconcile the many scriptures in the Bible that speak of faith and healing and answered prayers with this piece. I find in my own life that at times it is hard to reconcile the many scriptures on answered prayers with my present circumstances. Are you saying that as Christians we should not expect God to answer us when we ask him to intervene in a situation? Should we not expect him to give us the deepest desires of our hearts? Is he not capable of answering and strengthening our relationship with him simultaneously? Are we giving up on the faith and perseverance required from God when we resign ourselves to receiving Grace but not healing or restoration or breakthrough?

    The parable of the unjust judge and widower from the book of Luke comes to mind here. I am not asking these questions to upset you. I am asking to help me understand the concept of prayer and expectation. I am and have been for quite some time now, praying for God to strengthen and bring healing to my marriage and bless us with children amongst other things. Day after day I am tempted to fear that He may never answer. I am not sure if this article is part of that temptation or if it is somehow permission for me to let go of my hopes and dreams and expectations of God. If I do let go should I gloss over the scriptures that say otherwise? Make up my own explanations for what they really mean? I am overwhelmed with the implications of this article. Please help me. ThanksReplyCancel

    • November 4, 2016 - 3:55 pm

      Vaneetha - I understand that this article can feel troubling. I have been praying about my answer to your question for several days. I do think God always answers our prayers – but he may not answer them in the time frame that we want, and sometimes his answer is “no.” Jesus asked God to let the cup of suffering pass him by in the Garden of Gethsemane and God denied his request. And as finite humans, we don’t know what is best for us and so we ask for things that we really don’t want or wouldn’t be good for us. And so God in his mercy, often denies what we ask for.

      Tim Keller has a quote in which he paraphrases Romans 8:28. He says “God gives us what we would have asked for, if we knew everything that he knows.” John Newton says that another way: “Everything is needful that he sends. Nothing is needful that he withholds.” But please don’t think that I am trying to minimize any of the pain that you are going through. Having unfulfilled longings is some of the deepest pain that we have.

      God may choose to answer all of your prayers – I do not know. But I do know that if he doesn’t choose to answer your prayers in the way that you want, he will give you something better. As Christians we have hope in God. Our hope is not in an outcome. Our hope is in a person and a future. Yes, we should keep asking for what we want. Especially if we feel it is in accordance with God’s will- but after we ask, even repeatedly, we need to trust the rest to God. I have two posts that might be helpful – I pray they will not make things more difficult. One is – “How can unfulfilled longings be a blessing?” And the other is “The agony of waiting.”

      I am praying for you as I write this, Nneka, that you will find peace from God that passes all understanding. That he will comfort you and give you joy. That you will sense his extravagant love for you as you wait. That he will meet you in the midst of your struggle and give you himself. Which ultimately is the most precious thing we could ever have.ReplyCancel

      • November 4, 2016 - 9:40 pm

        Nneka - Thank you Vaneetha for your thoughtful reply, I find it very helpful. Thank you for your sweet prayers as well. I am excited to read the articles you suggested. God bless.ReplyCancel

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