I’m not really sure why, but this January felt like an entire year. I know I’m not alone; I saw it all over social media. “It literally feels like January 74th… again.”
As the longest, coldest, greyest, and grossest month came to a close, I found myself with my third sinus infection since December. This time it progressed into bronchitis and pleurisy from which I’m still recovering.
I hadn’t even heard of pleurisy, but I googled it later, like you know we do. I had the trifecta for “not breathing.” I couldn’t breathe out of my nose or deep enough into my chest, and fluid had built up around the outside of my lungs causing even shallow breaths to be sharply painful.
The promise of a New Year came in with such resounding and heard hope, yet here I am, on January 74th, in a proverbial grey waiting room of quiet, yet-thrashing-to-stay-alive tension: wrestling between coping or running away mentally, both leaning in to His arms and pulling back to attempt to see the bigger vision, pushing and pulling between health and illness.
But, then again I didn’t, not really.
Having all this hurt, this pain, this frustration, this build-up inside me – created a lump in my throat too hard to swallow. Though the internal scream was deafening, it released as pure muted silence to those around me. Every question frustrated me more, because I could not answer.
Oh dear one, have you felt that way?
That no one hears you?
That the frustration will never end?
That things will never change?
That healing will never come?
You are not alone.
The beauty of your individuality, the fierceness of your soul, the boldness of your heart creates this magnificent dichotomy of who you are. You press hard and through tough circumstances. People have told you that you don’t know when to quit, and you’re proud that you don’t. Your persistence is your power; your relentlessness can hurdle any obstacle, break glass ceilings, and bust through barriers of stubborn resistance, all the while wearing your best and most uncomfortable heels.
Finally with my heels off and my pajamas on, I relented. In a quiet, closemouthed prayer, I whispered. “Please, don’t take my voice.” And, Holy Spirit breathed into my soul, “I never did.”
Just as the lack of physical manifestation of my voice as a projection of my vocal chords does not inhibit the power of Holy Spirit working through the words I type right now; so, He does not limit Holy Spirit power in you, sweet warrior.
Sometimes, instead of moving and shaking or fighting and challenging, Jesus calls us to a separation – away from the crowd and chaos that beckons our daily attention, from the moments of frustration, and even out of our own boldness, into a quiet place where He can reveal the magnificence of the miracle.
In Mark 7:31-37, Jesus took a man aside from the crowd. Being both deaf and mute, moving away from the throng of people did not deaden the noise, the man already could not hear. He couldn’t have even heard the encouragement of the crowd to go be healed; instead, the separation signaled the promise that healing was coming.
Friend, perhaps separation is not the punishment you might think, but is a forecast for the miracle?
By moving away, Jesus caused an intentional, visual, and purposeful focus. This miracle was not for the crowd; it is for the man who was deaf with no voice.
As Jesus reaches down to touch the man’s face, I imagine how the man gazed up into Jesus’ eyes with tears of expectation.
Without a peripheral view of the crowd, the miracle became profoundly tender and intensely personal. The man’s hard life was acknowledged by a compassionate Savior. Mark 7:34 tells us what Jesus did and said, “looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” which is ‘be opened’.”
In that openness is where healing happened. His hearing and voice restored. Perhaps, even more importantly, his faith was awakened to expectation. He felt the magnitude of the miracle and the sweetness of our Savior’s voice.
With a simple touch, moments of frustration wiped away. Years of January 74ths disappeared. And, a life that rang with the cacophony of hurt suddenly harmonized in a symphony with Heaven.
Jesus couldn’t get away from the crowd and go unnoticed. Everyone was astonished…. The man that was cured, the men that brought him, and the whole crowd was beyond all expression, simply amazed. They couldn’t help, but talk about the magnitude of the miracle, the profoundness of the healing. The man’s newfound hearing and voice, his very life was living, breathing evidence of Jesus as our Savior. (Mark 7:36-37)
Sweet girl, don’t be paralyzed by your circumstances or separation from the crowd. I promise you; He’s not trying to take your voice. He’s giving you His.
Pray with me:
Father, be with my friends experiencing months that feel like years. In Your way, show each of the people reading this that You know their hurt, you honor it, and with compassion You lead us to the openness of healing. We don’t ask that you erase all the January 74ths, but instead that You reveal to us the miracle that lies within them, the beauty that lies dormant in the recesses of our Holy Spirit-led dreams. Pull us away from the periphery of the crowd and into Your arms. Keep our hearts open, our minds focused on You, and our souls awake with expectation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.