Persistence in the midst of resistance

By Erika Rizkallah

Well, so much for blogging every day. In a recent post I wrote about resistance and it got the better of me last week. I’m in the midst of a bad fibro flare and though I wanted to write, I couldn’t.

cold pack

The skin on my head was so excruciating even my hair hurt. My face swelled up and I had to “wear” a cold pack. Worst of all, I couldn’t think of anything but the pain.

I was also scheduled to go away for the weekend for a five-year reunion with some of my best friends and I rested for several days so I could go – and I did!

So, it’s back to the drawing writing board for me. In the words of B.F. Skinner, “A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.”

 

Now is the time for joy

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Matthew 11:4-5

One morning I read about what it meant to be “blind” in Old Testament times. Back then, being blind was fairly common. The sun, desert sand and wind inflamed the eyes and the blind were some of the most helpless members of society. Helping the blind and lame was the sign of a righteous Israelite.

solidarity-929400

When I was little “helping a blind man or old lady across the street” was considered a good deed!

In later Old Testament times, blindness was a sign you were cursed by God and considered sinful or disobedient. This was the culture in which Jesus lived. Giving sight to the blind was a messianic sign, so when he healed people’s eyes, it was a statement. He was saying:

am here!”

This awes me. God has put us on this planet “post-Jesus” and what an excellent thing! We can praise God and shout for joy that this is the time in which we live. Although this world is still filled with violence, wickedness and sin, we have been bought back.

           We’re the redeemed.

Here’s what the prophet says in Isaiah 35:1-6…

The desert and the parched land will be glad;

  the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.

Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;

  it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.

The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,

  the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;

they will see the glory of the Lord, 

  the splendor of our God.

Strengthen the feeble hands,

  steady the knees that give way;

say to those with fearful hearts,

  “Be strong, do not fear;

your God will come,

  he will come with vengeance;

with divine retribution

  he will come to save you.”

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened

  and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

Then will the lame leap like a deer,

  and the mute tongue shout for joy.

Water will gush forth in the wilderness

  and streams in the desert.

waterfall-73900

Wow. This is for us! We who believe in Jesus, should be filled with joy, but it’s easy to let the troubles of this world blind us. I’ve been guilty of this myself, but now my eyes are opened – I was blind but now I see.

Your Turn: What (if anything) have you been blind to before?

Walking on The Way of Holiness: Joy of the Redeemed

By Erika Rizkallah

This morning I woke up in tremendous pain (more than usual) and couldn’t move. My husband rushed to get my medication and I stayed in bed waiting for it to kick in. For those of you who know me, I live with a rare pain disease that doctors say will never go away.

Good man that he is, he brought me coffee and my Bible study tools. I lay in bed, mulling over the thought that today, I’d remain bedridden. I hate these kind of days; I’m used to them, but it’s Friday and I had shopping plans!

 antique-440337

Somehow in my study I turned to Isaiah 35. Isaiah is one of my favorite Old Testament books and his name means “The Lord saves” or “The Lord is Savior.” It’s filled with prophecies about the Messiah and was written by a man who answered God’s call and became a prophet to kings. More than that, Isaiah’s writing is filled with gorgeous imagery and hope, as well as warning.

Isaiah 35 is subtitled “Joy of the Redeemed.” As followers of Christ, we are people of redemption and I highly suggest you read this short chapter. The last few verses talk about the highway called The Way of Holiness. Here’s what it says:

No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

As I read, gladness and gratitude overtook me and though I sigh, my spirit is filled with joy. I can move now – although with difficulty – but I know that one day I will run along that highway, dancing and singing with gladness!

dancing-girl-556772_1920

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:12