Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. — Ephesians 5:15-17
There are many roadblocks to receiving Christ’s gift of healing by faith, either as a healing minister or the one seeking healing. In this chapter we will look first at three primary emotional responses that inhibit healing — doubt, anxiety, and fear.
Emotions That Inhibit Healing
When we doubt the Lord’s existence or His love, will, trustworthiness, faithfulness, or power, we become riddled with anxiety. As Paul pointed out, our thinking becomes futile when we are overcome by a lack of confidence in God’s divine nature (Romans 1). Perhaps, by its fruit, we can best understand the futility of anxiety. Contrast the fruit of God’s Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control from Galatians 5:22-23) with the rotted fruit of anxiety and fear. When doubt persists, it sows anxiety and reaps fear!
What does Jesus say about doubt?
[Jesus said] Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. — Mark 11:23
He [Jesus] said to them [His disciples], “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” — Luke 24:38
[During Peter’s attempt to walk on water to reach Jesus.]
Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He [Jesus] said, ‘why did you doubt?’ — Matthew 14:31
Then He [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.” — John 20:27
Now let’s look at what James said about the downside of doubt:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. — James 1:5-8
Before any of us despairs over James’s harsh assessment of doubters, I would remind us that we’ve all been there. We all have doubted Christ at some time in our lives but can now rejoice in His healing of our doubt.
In his only letter included in the Bible, Jude prompts us to deal gently with those who doubt:
Be merciful to those who doubt. — Jude 22
Jude’s words are akin to a cool breeze tempering the heat of humiliation caused by our doubting. Both writers are correct, but only when they are weighed together and balanced on Jesus’ scales. Enter Jesus and the father of the boy with an impure spirit:
Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” — Mark 9:21-24, emphasis added
This passage warms my heart every time I read it. In the end, after the spirit left the boy, he appeared dead — like a corpse — until Jesus reached down, took his hand, and lifted him up, at which point the boy stood up.
Doubt is always the result of unbelief. We need to be healed of our unbelief even when we believe. Sometimes our faith in Christ is credible for His ability to do certain things but is weak regarding His ability to do other things. Jesus wants you to believe Him, period. Our faith is to be void of doubt.
When we do not believe Him, we doubt Him. And when we doubt Him, we become anxious.
Paul’s final exhortation in his letter to the Philippians addresses our common temptation to be anxious as well as our need for healing from it. Imagine that Paul wrote these words while he was being held captive, within the walls of a prison:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:4-7
Let’s unpack this powerful paragraph.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Paul commands us to rejoice, not once, but twice! How can we rejoice in every situation of life? Is that even possible? Well, no… not exactly; but yes, in Christ! God intends that we see our circumstances through His eyes. A horse will follow the direction of his rider’s eyes. If the horse and rider are traversing a narrow trail overhanging a cliff and the rider looks over the side, the horse will get perilously close to the edge. So the rider must keep his eyes trained on where he wants to go, on the safe path ahead. Similarly, Paul’s command that we rejoice requires us to keep our eyes focused on our trustworthy Lord so we’re not overcome by what is happening around us. Rejoicing (from the transliterated Greek verb chairo), arises from our joy whenever we focus on God’s grace and love during our circumstances, praising Him for His faithful presence in our lives.
Philippians 4:4-7 is an excellent passage to memorize if you suffer from anxiety. Remember that Paul is not making a request, he is commanding us: “You rejoice. Keep your eyes on the truth, who is Christ Jesus, and you will have no other response than to rejoice in Him!”
“Let your gentleness be evident to all.”
Are you a bull in a china shop? Do you come across as aggressive and combative? Hmm… the antidote to aggressive behavior is given to everyone who manifests the fruit of the Spirit. Yes, gentleness is a fruit harvested from the gift of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23), who is given to us through faith in Christ. I promise we’ll explore the Holy Spirit’s role later on.
First Timothy 6:11 says,
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. — emphasis added
Perhaps it is time to pursue the fruit of gentleness. I would suggest that if aggression and belligerence are outwardly present, very likely there is considerable guilt and self-condemnation going on internally. The Lord would say to us: Be at peace, dear souls. Allow faith in Me to grow and heal your doubt, anxiety, and fear.
“The Lord is near.”
If we do not believe that God is a person, but rather just a dumb deity that is distant and unconcerned with us, then we are predisposed to regularly manifest doubt, anxiety, and fear reactions. On the contrary, our God is a loving, caring person, who is ever present and passionately concerned about us!
[God said] No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. — Joshua 1:5
[God said] Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! — Isaiah 49:15
[Jesus said] And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. — Matthew 28:20
Think about that last verse for a moment: Jesus is always with you. Whatever you are doing, He is there. Even as you read this, He is with you.
“Do not be anxious about anything.”
Okay, Paul — can you hear us yelling “Uncle”? Phew! Yep, God, we do hear You, we do hear Your command! We hear Your voice, loud and clear, through the words of a man chained to a prison wall, writing to implore us not to be anxious about anything. Even Peter, in his first letter contained in the Bible, concurred with Paul:
Cast all your anxiety on Him [Christ] because He cares for you. — 1 Peter 5:7
By faith, and in total trust, we want to obey God. So, let’s believe He is able to calm the storm in our hearts and minds. He does hear and answer us when we call upon Him. Let’s thank Him for giving us His peace to replace our anxious thoughts, even at this very moment. Amen?
“But in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Paul is giving us the prescription to defeat anxiety: pray with thanksgiving! Ask; give thanks; and leave it all to God: “Please take it, it’s too heavy for me; but not for You. Giving it all to You, laying it at Your feet. Oh, thank You, thank You, dear Lord!” Don’t forget the thanksgiving bit either! We’ve learned that the only way to be at peace is to obey His instructions and give thanks. Paul reminds us to
pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. — 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Ah, we’ve come to the prized fruit — peace! It is said that we must go out on a limb to get to the fruit. But, honestly, how much risk is it to go out onto a limb that God has provided and will support by His strength? There is always, and only, an upside to resting on His promises.
Anxiety is a response triggered by haunted thoughts and emotions from our pasts. Don’t allow the past to ruin your present or your future. Override those involuntary responses, once dependent upon your collusion, by instead choosing His peace. Will you suffer setbacks along the way? Of course, but every time you choose peace you bolster your new default reaction to exercise free will and choose to trust Christ to bestow upon you His peace.
[Jesus said] Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. — John 14:27
Excerpted with permission from This Is Where Your Healing Begins by Nigel Mumford, copyright Nigel Mumford.
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Are doubt, anxiety, and fear blocking your road to healing? Peace is yours as a gift from God when you believe in Him. What are you waiting for? Come share your thoughts with us on our blog! We want to hear from you about embracing healing. ~ Devotionals Daily