Essential Therapy

Designed for Wellness

The problem with Miracles

I’m surprised I’m writing this at 4:25 am the morning of the 24th of December. It sure is a cold Christmas Eve. We haven’t had a blast of arctic like this for a century here in Georgia and I know for the rest of the US they are living in far worse conditions.

It wasn’t a century ago, however, that I experienced an Eve as cold as this weather. Twenty years ago my mom passed away at this exact hour.

I am letting that sink it a little longer than usual today. I have a unique scripture for this year, a different season, and an opportunity for restoration. For the first time I’m letting myself be okay with the under the layers of Esther, the good and the bad, the regret and lonely, the highest of the heights of exuberance that comes in my life on occasion (that is too much for most). I’m just an empty vessel waiting to be filled, restored from overuse, and filled to overflowing; I’m hoping for a miracle that exceeds all expectation.

That’s the problem though, isn’t it, with miracles? There is an expectation that is often misplaced. The prayer is good, the desire even is innocent, but the attitude in the outcome is disappointment. Why should we be disappointed in a HUGE God who we are told from infancy loves us so much. You may keep telling yourself you don’t deserve to feel disappointed, who are you to question the methods, but you still feel it. That feeling can drive a wedge in your personal life between you and God or other people.

How do I even begin this? At this point I’m just writing and trusting that He will say what He wants to and maybe I can get some divine revelation and go back to my warm bed.

Twenty years ago I pushed down disappointment and hurt because everyone else was struggling. This year, we went through a loss in another family member’s life. It wasn’t our own personal loss, but we have been grieving with her, and it feels personal. It felt like our prayers weren’t answered the way we had wanted them. God didn’t save a life this time, or did He?

A few weeks ago we were celebrating the expectation of a new baby in the family. A week ago we were grieving the loss, still are. Having learned however in the process, that had she not lost the baby, in this particular case, she could have lost her life.

I could not help feeling disappointed. I had really felt in the spirit, that child, and the joy of the parents to be. I had a beautiful, healing vision, of holding Him in my arms and singing to Him. He was precious, like the refreshment of rain after a long season of drought.

My prayer partner and I prayed greatly together for a miracle. Even after learning of the complications we prayed for a crazy big miracle. You know, God does those! He even tells His disciples, and us, that we will do “even greater things than these” (John 14:12).

My mother’s death was a miracle. It doesn’t feel like one though. It felt like a great shift, an upheaval. It felt like a shocking wave of pain that numbs you to the core. It changes every reality and all the people around you. The aftershocks of this personal life earthquake are catastrophic. Every person you know and love are not immune to the shift. Their hearts and minds are altered with hurt and brokenness and it echoes in the large canyons of their lives.

Needless to say death breeds chaos and chaos more hurt. There is no end to the disappointments in death.

Despite the current turn of this writing, I am usually annoyingly optimistic. I operate best when everything else is falling a part. Its when my true God-given inner grit comes out. I’m like an energizer bunny in the battery commercial. I’m acting all cool and energized because my God is HUGE and He’s going to come in guns blazing and save the day. He always saves the day, BTW. He has done it more times that I can count and saved my life and now my kids lives (another story for another day). He has come through and He is faithful! He is even, what we don’t feel when the storms arise, He is GOOD!

The energizer bunny in me died last week. What you don’t know about that brand of battery is that they aren’t rechargeable (at least not in my story). The energizer bunny in me never lied or was presumptuous. The energizer bunny just got disappointed, and disappointment might as well be death for that bunny.

Disappointment makes everything go quiet and the world bleak. Your soul feels weighty because you no longer are trusting God with burdens. Disappointment says, “God didn’t come through how I wanted to so I’m going to take on what I can’t trust Him with. “

If you listen to Disappointment you are liable to get depressed, stressed, and pessimistic, which is a really ugly look for the energizer bunny or for tue well loved character from Winnie the Pooh: Tigger.

When I was as young as my oldest child I was nicknamed Tigger. My sister was Eeyore. We were so different in our temperaments. I was constantly bouncing (or doing cartwheels) and she was not… My Nana just told me yesterday how my mom would teach my big sister, Eeyore, how to choose to have a good attitude. She would make an emotion chart, with different silly faces. My sister would feel grumpy or sad, happy or elated, and she would tell my mom how she would feel based on the picture. If she was angry or sad, they would acknowledge it and then my mom would say, “You can choose to be happy.” It helped my sister deal with her emotions. Quite fittingly she has her masters in music performance and participates in many operas. It is the perfect fit! She expresses the feelings of each character she plays better than anyone I’ve seen. It is absolutely moving.

I wish someone would have taught me that to be Tigger was not better or worse. Being Tigger is a God-given temperament. I honestly felt like the odd man out because the rest of my family could sit for hours happily. They could be quiet in a car. They would be on their computer, doing crafts, reading books. I was different. I had to climb every tree and collect rocks. I had to dance around the living room and play with dinosaurs. I never would have done well in school if it had not been for basketball. I really am a Tigger.

Its not wrong to be an Eeyore. Its not wrong to be a Tigger. Its not wrong to be a Rabbit, or a piglet, or a pooh. You just need to know who you are and where you come from. When the God of the universe becomes the God in your life, He takes the temperament in you and uses it for His glory. What we don’t see is that, God is all of those things. He is the best of Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit and Eeyore. He is meek like Piglet, kind like Pooh, silly and optimistic like Tigger, and emotional like Eeyore.

A disappointed Tigger is the saddest thing of all. The higher you go the further you fall. If Tigger was in the dumps everyone was in the dumps. If Eeyore was gloomy it was just another day in the forest.

When my mother died, part of my bounce left. It became warped even. What do you mean, “Tigger’s lost His bounce?,” I can almost hear rabbit say. “His bounce is no longer bouncy!” replies Pooh. Oh I still had bounce, its quite hard to loose it completely. Tigger only does it a few times, once for the request of Rabbit who selfishly felt happy about it until it began to make everyone else sad. As soon as Rabbit relented He was back to his old bouncy self.

In college, about the time I started to really do some digging into my heart, someone had a vision about me. It was so simple but it hit the right note. God was getting ready to take the lid off of Goofy. The image was Goofy, the cartoon character, in a jar and someone unscrewing the lid.

Goofy is a bit different than Tigger. He isn’t so bouncy but he sure is silly. He is often causing all sorts of dilemmas on his own which he trys to solve, making it worse but He is more well-rounded that Tigger in temperament. He is ecstatic and optimistic but feels great emotion. He gets down in the dumps in every movie or episode only to find great resolution. Goofy is goofy, beyond anything else He is a funny good-natured character.

For a long time I had not been fully the expression of my God-given temperament. I had a cap for my bounciness. Everything in my personality had been suppressed. Even now, I find more and more layers of suppression that need to fall off. I thought perhaps i needed more reigning in of Tigger, because I go high and then fall low. A burst of energy followed by a energy-less valley. But I think Tigger just needs to be Eeyore for a day. Tigger needs to feel the storm and surrender to the roller coaster of emotions. He doesn’t need to be so afraid of losing His bounce that He runs away. When you do that and you keep bouncing when you need to stop, you are forever bouncing, tired and heavy laden, losing your bounce till you can go no further. You can cripple your tail and the healing takes longer and your tail really looses its spring.

The same goes for Eeyore in the opposite. If Eeyore stays in the gloom He won’t ever find His tail again. If Eeyore doesn’t move past the grief He can’t fully express and enjoy the full range of emotions. Eeyore pushes people away when He needs them most. Eeyore needs people to move past His loss. He needs extra help finding His tail and He has to let go of his gloom to find it again.

Back to my topic. Death is disappointing. It can bring confusion to Eeyore and to Tigger. Neither operate as they need to without the other. The real problem with miracles is that they often take us on a journey we weren’t prepared for. One that looks a lot more like grief than victory, where in order to conquer you have to experience what feels like defeat.

Miracles are both a life and they are also a death. The Savior of the world took on both challenges and the second was the hardest. It was the bravest and most daring. He gave absolutely everything for you. He gave every part of himself to death. The miracle is that a God who can’t die, can choose to die. Coming back to life shows God is in charge of both but the miracle I’m talking about today is that He can die. He can be laid low and face a disappointing death. Its disappointing because it wasn’t what his disciples or his mom or Mary Magdalene who loved Him wanted. It didn’t feel good. The disciples reaction was losing their bounce. They went back to what they did before or went into hiding.

The world lost a great man, but gained a Savior. At that very moment of disappointing death the price of sacrifices needed on the altar was paid. He was already before the throne as a lamb sacrifice, without blemish, an advocate for you, always standing in the gap.

The miracle of death becomes a declaration of life. Already one sinner had entered into paradise after the lamb of God. One sinner on the cross next to Jesus chose to believe and He entered into paradise, the other most likely not. The man who died experienced a miracle that no one had experienced before: he was saved! He went to heaven to commune forever with Jesus.

We think of the death of Jesus as step one of two, but it is everything. He said it best: “It is finished.” Notice he didn’t say it is almost done or the first step in a long process. The curtain tore at His death not His resurrection. It’s more god-like to be alive than dead. This was a true ultimate sacrifice. He didn’t have to, He wanted to. It is impossible for God to die yet miraculously He did. Let that love and the biggest miracle ever sink in.

I think the disciples got a little lost in their loss. They expected Jesus to either fight back, save himself, or come back to life right away and declare that He was God.

He had to wait three whole days, when the shock was beginning to break way to grief and disappointment. I mean He was really really dead and everyone knew it. The news had gotten to even those that avoided the social media of the day.

Their hearts were heavy but some were already trying to move on. Some, instead of preaching that God had died for their sins as the prophecies foretold, went back to fishing. They thought their futures, all they had hoped and dreamed of while with Jesus, had also died. They didn’t realiz that death was the miracle.

God knows how much you need a proper happy ending. He knows you need more than death. He knows you need more than the veil broken between God and man. You dont just need the miracle you need the resurrection. You need to taste war and victory like the zealot, Simon needed. You need to be restored, because in your grief you denied Jesus and walked away just like Peter. You need strength because you are afraid and hide like the disciples went into hiding. You needed a purpose, because fishing after being with Jesus just doesn’t compare. You need to overcome the doubt attached to your grief that miracles really don’t exist anymore just like Thomas needed. You need the scriptures to be explained like the disciples on the road to Damascus and to feel the inner fire of His presence as He explains it to you. You NEED to KNOW the goodness of God exists in the land of the living, not just when you get to heaven.

Its impossible to live to the fullest without the acknowledgment of death but its also impossible to live to the fullest without acknowledging new life! God came back for you, not to die and leave you with that alone, but to give you life to the FULL! We can have it here not just in heaven because the fullness of the godhead lives in you and you can overflow in you through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

That was His parting gift: His spirit. They had to be tested a second time with his departure from earth and this time, having been encouraged by His resurrection they continued to meet together. Only then in an attitude of hope did they received His gift of the Holy Spirit at pentacost. It is the best gift you can possibly receive. It is a taste of heaven on earth because in it is His presence.

His death is your miracle. His resurrection your encouragement. His spirit is your gift and His second coming your hope. Remember this on Christmas. His birth is just the beginning.

My moms death brought her to heaven. It is a miracle that she can enter in, and it didn’t end there. There is both no end to her celebration and no end to the things God has done in the lives of those she left behind. Her mantel has passed to her children, her testimony to a whole nation that she loved called Bosnia, and her prayers continue to be answered though even though she is not here. There is a legacy here because of the redemptive power of Christ.

Oh death where is your sting?

His voice washes over me and all I hear is the deep calling to deep: A great sorrow with miracles in its ring, ever passing from the shadows into the great light, a full blossom inclined to learn how to bloom on the battle field.

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with death. We often don’t trust ourselves to fully grieve and with good reason. Each in our own temperament have our own weaknesses. My Nana has always said: “Hurt people hurt people.” But the God who is every temperament trusts you with the piece of himself that He put into you. Don’t let the enemy tell you you are too afraid as a Piglet, too depressed as an Eeyore, too optimistic as a Tigger, too tightly wound as a Rabbit and too forgetful as a Pooh to do any good. The wonderful thing about you is you are the only one.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalm 16:11

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