Read today’s scripture (all of it):
Affliction: Mark 2:17, Mark 1:40-42, 2 Corinthians 12:5-10, Psalm 34:19
Healing: Psalm 147:3, Matthew 14:14, 1 Peter 2:24, 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
Record what stood out to you.
Reflect, pray, and meditate on how it applies to your life.
Respond in your art journal to press the Word into your heart.
Not gonna lie…there was great hesitation to publish this one. Yet, I wouldn’t be able to share this record of affliction if I hadn’t already experienced healing. I actually got emotional while writing this because it forced me to look at the deep brokenness I was consumed in and the amazing grace I experienced.
I wrote this journal entry during a very dark season in my life:
Wrath. Bitterness. Anger. Malice. Contempt. Who am I?
What monster is dwelling in my flesh…eating me away?
This monster sinks its teeth into my mind and heart—grinding at my core.
And when it leaves, its fingerprints are left on me.
Bruises and scratches on my soul.
Its presence lingers in my home…thrashing through it.
It whispers lies into my ear.
And I listen.
It suggests walking the edge.
It likes to make me cry. Tears. Tears. Tears.
It sings dissension and crushes unity.
It blackens my heart and soul with its poison, leaving me doubting any hope.
It deafens my ears to the Holy One, numbing my desires for what is good.
It gives me a false armor of wrath, sarcasm, and apathy.
An armor that looks like it will protect me, but is destroying me.
What is this monster? Is it I?
My heart is getting hard and distant. I know I am trying to protect myself at this point. I’m tired of going back and forth—acting like everything is okay when it is not. I am becoming more and more hopeless that it will ever change.
Lord, help me. Heal my heart.
noun | af·flic·tion | \ə-ˈflik-shən\
1: the cause of persistent pain or distress
2: great suffering
I won’t go into detail about the context of my affliction, however, I can very quickly point to the root of it: I was being bombarded with lies from the enemy. While, at first, I did well to ignore them and shrug them off…eventually, I started to believe these lies.
With this, I found myself constantly getting into God’s Word. Memorizing scripture to remember truth about my identity. I even attended more Bible studies. I had a select few people praying for me to combat it.
I tried and tried and tried to bind up my wounds with truth. I tried and tried and tried to heal my broken heart with constant conversation with my Lord. While I felt like I was doing everything right…the more and more I tried…the more and more I felt like the enemy was winning.
And there were moments when I just wanted to give up. I felt like God wasn’t healing my heart. That he wasn’t listening to my cries. I was being consumed by this monster inside of me. So why bother trying anymore?
My hopelessness turned to anger at God. My anger turned to cynicism. And eventually, my cynicism turned into apathy. I didn’t care anymore. I would continue praying, but not believing he was actually listening. I didn’t think he saw me.
I became blinded by the lies and feelings of disappointment.
After months of experiencing this brokenness and hopelessness, I found myself sitting among thousands of women in a worship service. I was listening to a very well-known speaker, Beth Moore, you probably haven’t heard of her…
I was avidly taking notes. Of course she had wonderful things to say. It was great. But in the back of my mind I was thinking, But this message isn’t for me…Mmm that’s good, but I’ve tried that…it doesn’t work…”Amen” for everyone else, but me…
After she gave her last talk it was time to worship in song. I took great notes that I can pass on to my disciples. She spoke eloquently as always. People’s lives were changed in this big crowd. But for me, I was numb. I felt nothing. Even being there at this service was me still “trying,” but really, I believed God didn’t see me. He was too busy focusing on all the other broken hearts in the room. My turn was up.
While I was singing along with everyone else, still choosing to praise God even if he didn’t see me…a friend came up to me and pulled me aside. She told me that she knows a couple women that she feels need to pray over me.
Now to be honest, my cynicism was really getting the best of me. I went ahead and walked with her to these women, while everyone was still singing, but in my head I was rolling my eyes thinking, prayer by a couple of strangers who don’t know me or my junk…a little charismatic…I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. But I love my friend, so I’ll go along with it. Ugly thoughts, I know.
So I walked up to these women and they introduced themselves to me. We almost had to yell at each other because the music and singing was so loud. Then they grabbed my hands and shoulders and started praying. The first thing they said was, “I feel that lies have been spoken over you. And I see that you have believing them.”
Then they asked me a question that I’ve never been asked before, “Do you feel like you are worthy to experience joy and dancing with your Lord?”
I was taken aback by this question. And I hesitated at responding to them because my immediate thought was, “Ha, of course not”…Wow, I really think that, huh? And realizing that was really what broke my heart. Because I realized that it broke His heart too.
Immediately, my angry-cynical-apathetic armor shattered. I don’t remember their exact prayer, but I immediately went back to my seat, with tears and snot running down my face, and I wrote down what the Lord spoke to me during their intercession over me:
Charissa Grace, I love you. You are precious in my sight.
You are MY Grace. You are mine. You do have a sweet purpose. There is POWER in my name–and the chains are broken. The words spoken over you by the enemy fall off of you like scales.
You ARE worthy of a joy-filled life. Oh, precious Charissa Grace, I have not abandoned you. Turn into my embrace and let me hold you.
I DO see you and I DO love you. Stop carrying the burdens of sin–that’s my job. Stop trying and trying and trying to get ahead of me–just rest. The chains of the past have fallen. The old is gone and the new has come. And there is joy in the morning.
Dance with me, child. Dance with me.
Oh my, my heart beats life again. Balm for my soul. Every time I read those sweet words, even now, my stomach tightens and joy seeps into my soul. I want you to re-read those words but maybe replace my name with yours. Do you believe it? He really means it.
verb | \ˈhēl\
1: to make sound or whole
2: to restore
The last point in Beth’s message was probably the most important point that I need to be reminded of:
Realize Jesus took the worse turn, so that we can have our best turn.
Now when I say “turn,” I mean “change” or “turn around” or “transformation”. Like in Psalm 30:11 when it says, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing.”
It doesn’t say, “I have turned my mourning into dancing.” God alone is the turner. (Point 1 of Beth’s message.)
Jesus took the worse turn, so that we can turn with him on the dance floor.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
I read that verse and automatically say, Thank you, Jesus. Thank you. Thank you.
Jesus RESTORES our identity. Jesus RESURRECTS our joy of worship. Jesus REOPENS access to the kingdom.
We are broken jars of clay with a beautiful treasure inside of us.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-18)
I walked away from that service feeling lighter. I entered into a new season of joy and rest because I stopped striving for it. I just let God run to me and cover me. A couple months later, I journaled:
Before it felt like darkness followed me one step behind, but now I look back and it is at a distance where I can see it, but not experience it. Where I can acknowledge it, but not feel it. Thank you, Lord. You make beautiful things out of dust. You make all things new.