It is important to remember that for every person, there will be a problem. Even more importantly, for every problem, our God has a prescription!
And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity."
The Holy Spirit periodically lets us catch a glimpse of the personal testimony of one of the patients of the Divine Physician Himself. This woman's dilemma is her own, but perhaps you will find some point of relativity between her case history and your own. She could be like someone you know or have known; she could even be like you.
There are three major characters in this story. They are the person, the problem, and the prescription. It is important to remember that for every person, there will be a problem. But even more importantly, for every problem, our God has a prescription!
Jesus' opening statement to the problem in this woman's life is not a recommendation for counseling—it is a challenging command! Often much more is involved in maintaining deliverance than just discussing past trauma. Jesus did not counsel what should have been commanded. I am not, however, against seeking the counsel of godly men. On the contrary, the Scriptures say:
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of the sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. —Psalm 1:1
Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. —Proverbs 11:14
What I want to make clear is that after you have analyzed the condition, after you have understood its origin, it will still take the authority of God's Word to put the past under your feet! This woman was suffering as a result of something that attacked her eighteen years earlier. I wonder if you can relate to the long-range aftereffects of past pain? This kind of trauma is as fresh to the victim today as it was the day it occurred. Although the problem may be rooted in the past, the prescription is a present word from God! The Word is the same yesterday, today and forevermore (Hebrews 13:8). That is to say, the Word you are hearing today is able to heal your yesterday!
A Personal War
When Jesus said, "Woman, thou art loosed," He did not call her by name. He wasn't speaking to her just as a person. He spoke to her femininity. He spoke to the song in her. He spoke to the lace in her. Like a crumbling rose, Jesus spoke to what she could, and would have been. I believe the Lord spoke to the twinkle that existed in her eye when she was a child; to the girlish glow that makeup can never seem to recapture. He spoke to her God-given uniqueness. He spoke to her gender.
Her problem didn't begin suddenly. It had existed in her life for eighteen years. We are looking at a woman who had a personal war going on inside her. These struggles must have tainted many other areas of her life. The infirmity that attached to her life was physical.
However, many women also wrestle with infirmities in emotional traumas. These infirmities can be just as challenging as a physical affliction. An emotional handicap can create dependency on many different levels. Relationships can become crutches. The infirm woman can place such weight on people that it strains a healthy relationship. And many times such emotional handicaps will spawn a series of unhealthy relationships.
For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. —John 4:18
Healing cannot come to a desperate person rummaging through other people's lives. One of the first things that a hurting person needs to do is break the habit of using other people as a narcotic to numb the dull aching of an inner void. The more you medicate the symptoms, the less chance you have of allowing God to heal you.
Clinging Or Loving?
Another destructive tendency that can exist with any abuse is the continual increasing of dosage. So avoid addictive, obsessive relationships. If you are becoming increasingly dependent upon anything other than God to create a sense of wholeness in your life, you are abusing your relationships. Clinging to people is far different from loving them. It is not so much a statement of your love for them as it is a crying out of your need for them. Like lust, it is intensely selfish. It is taking and not giving.
Love is giving. God is love. God proved His love not by His need of us, but by His giving to us.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. —John 3:16
The Scriptures plainly show that this infirm woman had tried to lift herself. People who stood on the outside could easily criticize and assume that the infirm woman lacked effort and fortitude. But that is not always the case. Some situations in which we find ourselves defy willpower. We feel unable to change. The Scriptures say this woman "could in no wise lift up herself." This implies she had employed various means of self-ministry.
Isn't it amazing how the same people who lift up countless others, often cannot lift themselves? This type of person may be a tower of faith and prayer for others, but impotent when it comes to their own limitations. This type of person may be the one others rely upon. Sometimes we esteem others more important than ourselves and we always become the martyr. It is wonderful to be self-sacrificing, but watch out for self-disdain! If we don't apply some of the medicine that we use on others to strengthen ourselves, our patients will be healed and we will be dying.
I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. —Psalm 118:17
Many things can engender disappointment and depression. In this woman's case, a spirit of infirmity had gripped her life. A spirit can manifest itself in many forms. For some it may be low self-esteem caused by child abuse, rape, wife abuse or divorce. I realize that these are natural problems, but they are rooted in spiritual ailments.
One of the many damaging things that can affect us today is divorce, particularly among women, who often look forward to a happy relationship. Little girls grow up playing with Barbie and Ken dolls, dressing doll babies and playing house. Young girls lie in bed reading romance novels, while little boys play ball and ride bicycles in the park. Whenever a woman is indoctrinated to think success is romance, then experiences the trauma of a failed relationship, she comes to a painful awakening.
Putting Perspective on the Past
Divorce is not merely separating; it is the tearing apart of what was once joined together. Whenever something is torn, it does not heal easily. But Jesus can heal a broken or torn heart!
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. —Luke 4:18
Approximately five out of ten marriages end in divorce. Those broken homes in which it occurs leave a trail of broken dreams, people and children. Only the Master can heal these victims in the times in which we live. Only He can treat the long-term effects of this tragedy.
One of the great healing balms of the Holy Spirit is forgiveness. To forgive is to break the link between you and your past. Sadly, though, many times the person hardest to forgive is the one in the mirror. Although many rage loudly about others, they secretly blame themselves for a failed relationship. But regardless of who they may be holding responsible, there is no healing in blame!
When you begin to realize that your past does not necessarily dictate the outcome of your future, you can finally release the hurt. It is impossible to inhale new air until you exhale the old.
I pray that as you continue reading, God will give the grace of releasing where you have been, so you can receive what God has for you now. Exhale, then inhale; there is more for you.
Let the Little Children Come to Me.... (Matthew 19:14)
Perhaps one of the more serious indictments against our civilization is our flagrant disregard for the welfare of our children. Child abuse, regardless of whether it is physical, sexual or emotional, is a terrible issue for an innocent mind to wrestle with. It is horrifying to think that little children who survive the peril of the streets, the public schools, and the aggravated society in which we live, come home to be abused in what should be a haven.
Recent statistics suggest that three in five young girls in this country have been or will be sexually assaulted. If that many are reported, I shudder to think of how many are never reported and are covered with a shroud of secrecy.
The Abused Are in Our Midst
If by chance you are a pastor, please realize that these figures are actually faces in your choir, committees, etc. They reflect a growing amount of our congregational needs. Although this book focuses on women, many men also have been abused as children. And I fear that God will judge us for our blatant disregard of this need in our messages, ministries and prayers. I would even suggest that our silence contributes to the shame and secrecy that Satan attaches to these victimized persons.
So whenever I think on these issues, I am reminded of what my mother used to say. I was forever coming home with a scratch or cut from schoolyard play. When I did, my mother would take the band-aid off, clean the wound and say, "Things that are covered don't heal well." And mother was right. Things that are covered do not heal well.
Perhaps Jesus was thinking on this order when He called the infirm woman to come forward. It takes a lot of courage even in church today to receive ministry in sensitive areas. But the Lord is the kind of physician who can pour on the healing oil. So uncover your wounds in His presence and allow Him to gently heal your injuries. One woman even found healing in the hem of His garment (Mark 5:25-29). There is a balm in Gilead! (Jeremiah 8:22).
The Death of Trust
However, even when a victim survives, there is still a casualty. It is the death of trust. Surely you realize that little girls tend to be trusting and unsuspicious. But when those who should nurture and protect them violate that trust through illicit behavior, multiple scars result. It is like programming a computer with false information; you can get out of it only what has been programmed into it.
When a man tells a little girl that his perverted acts are normal, she has no reason not to believe that what she is being taught is true. She is devoted to him and allows him to fondle her and further misappropriate his actions toward her. Usually the abuser is someone very close, with access to the child at vulnerable times. But fear is also a factor. Many children lay down with the cold taste of fear in their mouths. They believe the abuser could and would kill them for divulging his liberties against them. And some, as the victims of rape, feel physically powerless to wrestle with the assailant.
What kind of emotions might this kind of conduct bring out in the later life of this person? I am glad you asked. It would be easy for this kind of little girl to grow into a young lady who has difficulty trusting anyone! Maybe she will learn to deal with the pain inside by getting attention in illicit ways. Drug rehabilitation centers and prisons are full of adults who were abused children needing attention.
Intimidated by Intimacy
Not every abused child takes such drastic steps. Often their period of behavioral disorder dissipates with time. Still, the abused child struggles with her own self-worth. She reasons, "How can I be valuable if the only way I could please my own father was to have sex with him?" This kind of childhood can affect how later relationships progress. Intimidated by intimacy, she struggles with trusting anyone. Insecurity and jealousy may be constant companions to this lady who can't seem to grasp the idea that someone could love her.
There are a variety of reactions to child abuse. Some avoid people who really care, being attracted to those who do not treat them well. Relating to abuse, they seem to sabotage good relationships and struggle for years in worthless ones. Others have become emotionally incapacitated to the degree that they need endless affirmation and affection just to maintain the courage to face ordinary days.
Unprogramming Life's Poorly Programmed Events
The pastor may tell this lady that God is her heavenly Father. But that doesn't help, because the problem is her point of reference. We frame our references around our own experiences. If those experiences are distorted, our ability to comprehend spiritual truths can be off center. I know that may sound very negative for someone who is in that circumstance. But what do you do when you have been poorly programmed by life's events? I've got good news! You can reprogram your mind through the Word of God.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. —Romans 12:2 (NIV)
The Greek word metamorphoo is translated as "transformed" in this text. Literally, it means to change into another form! You can have a complete metamorphosis through the Word of God.
It has been my experience as a pastor who does extensive counseling in my own ministry and abroad, that many abused people, women in particular, tend to flock to legalistic churches who see God primarily as a disciplinarian. Many times the concept of fatherhood for them is a harsh code of ethics. This type of domineering ministry may appeal to those who are performance-oriented.
Morality or Legalism?
I understand that morality is important in Christianity. However, there is a great deal of difference between morality and legalism. It is important that God not be misrepresented. He is a balanced God. He is not an extremist.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. —John 1:14 (NIV)
The glory of God is manifested only when there is a balance between grace and truth. Religion doesn't transform. Legalism doesn't transform. For the person who feels dirty, harsh rules may create a sense of self-righteousness. But God doesn't have to punish you to heal you. Jesus has already prayed for you.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Jesus simply shared grace and truth with that one hurting woman. He said, "Woman, thou art loosed." Jesus our Lord was a great emancipator of the oppressed. It does not matter whether someone has been oppressed socially, sexually or racially; our Lord is an eliminator of distinctions. Anyone can believe the Word of God and be free.
There is neither Jew nor Greek [racial], there is neither bond nor free [social], there is neither male nor female [sexual]: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. —Galatians 3:28
I feel it is important to point out that this verse deals with unity and equality in regard to the covenant of salvation. That is to say, God is no respecter of persons. He tears down barriers that would promote prejudice and separation in the Body of Christ. Yet it is important also to note that while there is no distinction in the manner in which we receive any of those groups, there should be an appreciation for the uniqueness of their individuality.
There is a racial, social and sexual uniqueness that we should not only accept, but also appreciate. It is cultural rape to teach other cultures or races that the only way to worship God is the way another race or culture does. Unity should not come at the expense of uniqueness of _expression. We should also tolerate variance in social classes. It is wonderful to teach prosperity as long as it is understood that the Church is not an elite organization for spiritual yuppies only, who exclude other social classes.
And if uniqueness is to be appreciated racially and socially, it is certainly to be appreciated sexually. Male and female are one in Christ. Yet they are unique, and that uniqueness is not to be tampered with. Let the male be masculine and the female be feminine!
It is a sin for a man to misrepresent himself by conducting himself as a woman. I am not merely speaking of homosexuality. I am also talking about men who are feminine in their mannerisms. Many of these men may not be homosexual in their behavior, but the Bible says they must be healed of feminine mannerisms, and vice versa. It is equally sad to see a masculine woman. Nevertheless, God wants them healed, not hated!
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate,1 nor abusers of themselves with mankind. —1 Corinthians 6:9
I realize that these behavioral disorders are areas that require healing and prayer. My point is simply that unity does not negate uniqueness. God is saying, "I don't want men to lose their masculine uniqueness." This is true racially, socially and sexually.
God can appreciate our differences and still create unity. It is like a conductor who can orchestrate extremely different instruments into producing a harmonious, unified sound. Together we produce a sound of harmony that expresses the multifaceted character of God.
Having established the uniqueness of unity, let us now discuss some aspects of the uniqueness of the woman. By nature a woman is a receiver. She is not physically designed to be a giver. Her sexual and emotional fulfillment becomes somewhat dependent on the giving of her male counterpart (in regard to intimate relationships).
A Certain Vulnerability
There is a certain vulnerability that is a part to being a receiver. In regard to reproduction (sexual relationships), the man is the contributing factor while the woman is the receiver. And what is true of the natural is true of the spiritual. Men tend to act out of what they perceive to be facts, while women tend to react out of their emotions.
If your actions and moods are not a reaction to the probing of the Holy Spirit, then you are reacting to the subtle taunting of the enemy. He is trying to produce his destructive fruit in your home, heart, and even in your relationships.
So receiver, be careful what you receive! Moods and attitudes that Satan would offer, you need to resist. Tell the enemy, "This is not me, and I don't receive it." It is his job to offer it ... and your job to resist it. If you do your job, all will go well.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. —James 4:7 (NIV)
Don't allow the enemy to plug into you and violate you through his subtle seductions. He is a giver, and he is looking for a receiver. You must discern his influence if you are going to rebuke him. Anything that comes and any mood that is not in agreement with God's Word, is Satan trying to plug into the earthly realm through your life. He wants you to believe you cannot change. He loves prisons and chains!
Statements like, "This is just the way I am," or "I am in a terrible mood today," come from lips that accept what they ought to reject. So never allow yourself to settle for anything less than the attitude God wants you to have in your heart. Don't let Satan have your day, your husband, or your home. Eve could have thrown the devil out of Eden!
Neither give place to the devil.
It is not enough to reject the enemy's plan. You must nurture the Word of the Lord. You need to draw the promise of God and His vision for the future to your breast. It is a natural law that anything not fed will die. And whatever you have drawn to your breast is what is growing in your life. So, breast-feeding holds several advantages for what you are feeding. First, it hears your heartbeat. Second, it is warmed by your closeness. And third, it draws nourishment from you.
But be cautious. Be sure you are nurturing what you want to grow, and starving what you want to die. As you read this, you may feel that life is passing you by. You may be experiencing success in one area, and gross defeat in others.
You need a burning desire for the future—the kind of desire that overcomes past fear and inhibitions. You will remain chained to your past and all the secrets therein until you decide enough is enough!
There Is an Earthquake Coming Into Your Prison!
I am telling you that when your desire for the future peaks, you can break out of prison. I challenge you to sit down and write thirty things you would like to do with your life and scratch them off, one by one, as you accomplish them. There is no way you can plan for the future while dwelling in the past at the same time.
I feel an earthquake coming into your prison! It is midnight—the turning point of days! It is your time for a change. So praise God and escape out of the dungeons of your past!
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. —Acts 16:25-26
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to communicate with distracted people who will not give you their attention? They almost seem weird. They do not respond! There is a principle to learn here. Paul and Silas were completely preoccupied with God in the midst of their pain. Pain will not continue to rehearse itself in the life of a preoccupied, distracted person.
Every woman has something she wishes she could forget. Forgetting isn't a memory lapse; it is a memory release! Like carbon dioxide the body can no longer use, exhale it and let it go out of your spirit. Set your mind on God, and let God set you free.
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. —Philippians 3:13-15
Jesus set the infirm woman free. She was able to stand upright. The crippling condition of her infirmity was removed by the God who cares, sees and calls our infirmities to the dispensary of healing and deliverance. You can call upon Him even in the middle of the night. Like a 24-hour medical center, you can reach Him at any time. He is touched by the feeling of your infirmity.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. —Hebrews 4:15
In the name of our High Priest, Jesus Christ, I curse the infirmity that has bowed the backs of God's women. I pray that as we share together out of the Word of God, the Holy Spirit will roll you into God's recovery room where you can fully realize that your trauma is over.
And I am excited to say that God never loosed anybody that He wasn't going to use mightily. May God reveal His healing and purpose as we continue to seek Him.
1. Effeminate: Strong's #3120 "malakos (mal-ak-os'); of uncertain affinity; soft, i.e. fine (clothing); figuratively a catamite: effeminate, soft" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, n.d.) [back to text]
T. D. and Serita Jakes Speak to Women, 3-in-1 by T.D. and Serita Jakes
Copyright © 2006; ISBN 0764203010
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
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