Great night tonight at e3 Brazil! The students were very engaged and many of them came up and told me they have been praying for me. I was truly humbled by their graciousness, though the thought did occur to me that if I had to listen to me for three hours a night- seven nights straight, I’d be praying for me too- probably for me to get lost on the way to class!
Nevertheless, God continues to move on this special group of students. Several have already reported that the topics that we have discussed have deeply resonated with them and our time of prayer at the end of class has been very powerful each night.
In addition, several people approached me about last night’s message and were particularly interested in talking more about the concept of the victim mentality. That was fortuitous as the first part of tonight’s message built on that very theme. Tonight I tied together emotional and spiritual health with a message I call “The Overcoming Power of God’s Love”.
Part of what I discussed was a more detailed look at James Chapter 1.
“Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
James 1: 2-4
There are a couple of things that stand out to me from this scripture. The first one, which many of you probably have heard, is that James is telling us WHEN we meet trials, not IF. Trials will come for all of us. That is a certainty of life. But the next thing that’s so important is the purpose in those trials. Though the Word tells us it produces steadfastness, that’s not really the ultimate point. We don’t persevere for perseverance’s sake. The point is that as we allow steadfastness to have its full effect, WE then participate in the process of becoming perfected in Jesus…complete and lacking nothing. You know the times that you’ve said “Boy I sure did learn a lot from that bad experience? Similar concept that James is suggesting. God allows these trials so we can become more like Him.
One of the great trials that many people go through in today’s world, is that of the emotional kind. There is a higher degree of mental health issues/depression/anxiety in the world than at any time in history. Suicide rates-even among Christians continue to rise.
The first step out of the victim mentality that sometimes keeps people bound up and gives them a sense of hopelessness is found in John 5:
Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesdaand which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
So Jesus comes up to this man and says “Do you want to get well.” Now you would assume that anyone who has been an invalid for 38 years, who has come to this very place for healing would only have one answer for that. But Jesus doesn’t assume because He knows our nature. Did the man really want to be made well or not?
Was he content to remain an invalid? After all, if he was cured he would have to bear all the responsibilities of making a living for himself. There are people who, despite how unpleasant their circumstances, find a sense of security in misfortune. They don’t know anything different. They don’t have to take responsibility for their life or making their life better.
“Do you want to get well?” Maybe it wasn’t such a dumb question after all. The man failed to give a direct answer. Why not a simple “yes”? Perhaps being well holds more responsibilities, holds more accountability?
But the man did respond quickly. He wanted to be healed, but he didn’t see how since he had no one to help him up when the waters stirred within the pool. Besides, someone else always managed beat him to the punch when he did try to make his way down to those magical waters. Instead of jumping at the chance and saying “YES”!!!, he made excuses.
But Jesus, as He so often does because of His great love for us, quickly cut right to the heart of the matter: “Get up, pick up your mat and walk.”
Jesus spoke the word, but God’s healing power would not be let loose until the man assumed the responsibility of choosing life and risking the possibility of transformation! He had to get up, pick up his mat and walk. What was true then is still true now for us.
The deeper question Jesus asks us is, “Do you really want to be changed?” If we are content to stay as we are — no matter how miserable that may be — there can be no change, no possibility of healing for us. When we fall into this mindset “There is no hope for me. I’ll always feel this way. Things won’t ever be different.” it is then that we become truly helpless in this world.
The truth is that, yes, we all must recognize our own utter helplessness, but only our helplessness apart from God. That is our shared human condition. But then we must realize it is also true that miracles happen when our will cooperates with God’s power to make them possible. The question Jesus asks is the ultimate question each of us must answer, “Do you really want to get well?” Are you ready to get up, take up your mat and walk?
Jesus asks that question of us daily. If you are depressed or there is anything else going on in your life. The first step is to answer His question “Do you want to get well” Will you choose yes? Healing will come on God’s terms, not ours. It becomes a question of faith. Can you let go of your own fear of change and allow God to make all things new? When you answer yes, you cease to be a victim and you open yourself up to the victory that Jesus has for you.
Back with more from Sao Paulo tomorrow…