Saturday, August 28, 2010

What's the Problem?

“Responsibility is my response to God’s ability”~ Albert J. Lown

Here's a question to answer: what issues have you been dealing with that have drained you emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually, and have isolated you from those whom you depend on for love and affection? I know this to be the case because we all have issues we deal with that cause us to be in search for healing, and for those of us who know God, it is ultimately a search for Jesus Christ. We come to a place where we have been repeating a cycle that causes us to want to give up on life. These issues have taken us to a point where we have exhausted all of our money, time and efforts in seeking a solution, only to find that what we thought was a solution was merely a temporary fix to our real problem.

For years, we have been treating these symptoms of our suffering instead of attacking the root cause of our spiritual ailment: our lack of a relationship with God. Without him in our lives, anxiety, self-doubt, and insecurity take up permanent residence in our lives. These symptoms grow worse over time and eventually manifest themselves in fractured relationships, uncontrolled anger, personal isolation and addiction. Left unchecked, these newly manifested conditions, especially in the case of addiction, may cause us to seek refuge in drugs or sinful behavior. Suddenly the very thing we thought would help ease the pain of our suffering winds up taking us even further away from God.

Self-doubt leads to depression, which leads to addiction, which leads to more self-doubt, a vicious cycle that has only numbed us to how we are really feeling. Secular wisdom in the form of pop culture, reality TV, self help books, etc., only offer to treat symptoms to make you feel better temporarily -- the world's way doesn't address the root problem. Jesus, our Great Physician, knows that only when the core issue is addressed can there be true healing. We receive the root healing from Christ when we are born again.

Virginia Lively, in her book, Healing the Hurt in Your Heart – The Guiding Post Treasury of Hope, makes the following statement: “When we get down to the underlying problem, time after time, it was not medical, nor even, at its deepest, psychological. The real trouble was spiritual. And it was precisely the same problem…These people had trouble loving God.” (Lively, 1976)

I truly believe our true need is a healing of harmful memories and experiences. I recall of a time in my life when I was living a promiscuous lifestyle, indulging in drugs and alcohol while giving in to my lustful desires. I was living a double life, working in Corporate America by day and performing in an elaborate Gentlemen’s Club by night. While this lifestyle was very gratifying, it turned out that I chose to live like this as a way to suppress the feelings of guilt, shame, abandonment, and humiliation that I had acquired from all my negative experiences. So for years, I was pursuing something that only fixed these issues temporarily by satisfying a desire for a momentary high or rush. It was only a place where I could lose myself and be someone else. This Oscar performance was extraordinary and I knew all the lines.

Lost with no hope at all, I decided to go on a search for something to fill this emptiness. This search caused me many years of being in dysfunctional relationships with different men. In ministering to women as well as dealing with it myself, I have discovered a disturbing trend that affects the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of many women in society: The lack of love from a father who said he would be there and never showed up.

In Sarah Zacharias Davis’ book, Transparent, I am reminded of the character Rachel. Rachel said, “There is no disputing the special relationship between fathers and daughters, though often greater attention is given between father and son. But fatherly affection, telling a daughter she is beautiful and creating a standard for how she should be treated, is important. I believe a daughter’s relationship with her father leaves her either walking with a limp or brandishing a hidden power the rest of her life.” (Davis, 2007) For most of us this is a real issue. Without the love from our earthly father it has been difficult for us to trust our heavenly Father. Consider this: Ephesians describes a father as the Spiritual Head of the family, so it would stand to reason that a man, a father should exemplify the godly traits that would be an example for his family. It would stand to reason, then, that the relationship between a man and his daughter will in some way mirror the relationship between God and his earthly daughters. Without a relationship with an earthly father, a woman has nothing against which she can pattern her relationship with her Heavenly Father.

Now for those of you who had a father there for you, were you spoiled by him and always got what you wanted? When you were a little girl and had problems, did your father pick you up and tell you everything was going to be okay and you believed him without question? Do you recall sitting in his lap with your head against his chest, listening to the vibration of his voice as he spoke. And when you held his hand as you walked, did it make you feel safe and secure? Your dad always made you feel special. If you had this kind of relationship with your earthly father, how do you think it would affect your relationship with your Heavenly Father? It would stand to reason that you would try to duplicate this relationship with God in some way. Your relationship with your earthly father would be used as a blueprint in forming your relationship with God.

Let me add a small caution here, however, before you fall into the trap of thinking God will try to fulfill your every desire just like your daddy did. God does not roll like that. God’s primary concern is the salvation of your soul, not the elevation of your earthly status. While he does bless some of us with wealth and status, his desire is for you to grow spiritually, to shed the trappings of sin and death and embrace the gift of salvation that he sent you through His son. Just as a sword is forged in fire to create a mighty weapon, your soul may be subjected to the spiritual fires of suffering and deprivation to rid you of the sinful habits that build a wall between you and God. What this means, my sisters, is that God does not remove the suffering when you ask him to; he removes it when you have grown. In the face of suffering, ask yourself this question: What does God want me to learn, and how does he want me to grow?

Then, there are those of us who have had a completely opposite relationship with our fathers, which has negatively affected the way we relate to God. I’m reminded of the tragic story of Tamar, The beautiful daughter of King David in 2 Samuel 13:1-22. The bible illustrates how this story unfolds, How Amnon her half-brother, was infatuated by her. Amnon followed the advice of his cousin Jonadab, who told him to pretend he had an illness, and ask his father King David to send Tamar to care for him. The innocent Tamar, being obedient to her father, came to feed whom she thought was her ill brother. Her brother raped her, robbing her of her innocence and subjecting her to a life of, insult shame and humiliation. Verse 19 says, Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornamented robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.

In ancient times, virgin daughters of the King wore a robe that indicated their status. So when her other brother Absalom, saw her appearance and found out what had happened, he said to her, “Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don't take this thing to heart." From then on, Tamar lived in her brother Absalom's house, a desolate woman. Desolate means abandoned, depressed, lonely. Do these sound like familiar feelings that describe you?

My heart goes out to Tamar, because here you have a brother who betrayed her, and another brother who told her to keep quiet about being violated. The most horrible experience of all, however, was the fact that she was practically ignored by her powerful father, King David, who could have righted this wrong. For the bible said while King David was furious when he heard of the incident, he held no resentment against Amnon, whom he favored as his first born. If we assumed Tamar’s honor was never restored, what do you think she might have been like by the time she was forty? By then, she would have spent decades asking, where was her father when she screamed? Where was he when Amnon violated her? Was he so preoccupied with the death of His first son by Bathsheba? Was he exhausted from fighting in the war so he could not discern his son Amnon’s motives? Whatever the case, he was not there for her. He was not there to protect her.

Like Tamar many of us were convinced by the enemy we were not fit to have honor or dignity due to the abandonment and non-involvement of our earthy fathers. Before we continue our journey forward to self-discovery and healing, let us take a look backwards to see how our past has affected our lives today.

Discovery Questions

1.Read Philippians 3:12-14. Do you think your past is hindering you from enjoying God’s plan for your future?

2.Can you identify what it is that is hindering you?

3.Write down your belief statement that will encourage you when it tries to come back.

4.Pray for God to begin the process.

Reflections to Journal:
1.Lord, I recognize I have an issue and need healing in:

2.Grant me wisdom and strength to obey you in the area of:

3.You are calling me to be more complete by: