Choosing to believe is not as easy as it sounds. Living by faith is not easy as we relay it.
It is a disservice to all to intimate the ease by which we make our choices. I am guilty of conveying the sentiment just as I have noted and deeply repentant of the error I made. Mistaking what it really took for me to believe in Christ for more than salvation and discounting the pain whereby I learned this error in ignorance, I’ve repeated the nonsense to others. The ability to make healthy decisions is overlooked as a skill and is a poorly developed skill for some.
Decisions are made during moments of awareness and the decisions made will either aleve, resolve, or increase the experience of the problem. And if making decisions are difficult for those with great decision making skills, also known as executive functioning; imagine how difficult it is for the injured. It is not a pragmatic or objective exercise for the injured individual. It can take considerable time for an injured person to create a clear thought in the moment of a problematic incident. Many things come into play to affect the responsiveness of an injured individual. Some elements are obvious and others deeply buried within the injured. And unfortunately, the community surrounding the person may not be understanding of this dynamic. And inadvertently, this can further injure the individual and deepen the effect of the initial injury.
For the injured, they have survived by adapting and the exchange can be losing their ability to reason clearly impacting their decision making. In the Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. he states the effects of adaptation is “erasing awareness and cultivating denial essential to survival, but the price is that you lose track of who you are, of what you are feeling, and of what and whom you can trust.”
In our faith communities, it is rarely discussed or frequently glossed over. Left for a mental health expert to address, we as the faith community have a responsibility to care for the entire community. And this means the injured, not just physically injured, this includes the mentally, spiritually, and emotionally injured. Malachi 4:2 relays that Christ comes with healing in his wings. Would God send Christ with healing intended only for certain kinds?
1 Corinthians 12 speaks about the many members of the body, the church. Christ gave us the church for the benefit of fellowship and unity in him with the supply of instruction, restoration, healing, etc. Would Christ only equip the church to benefit some of the saved, the saved that have not been injured? The members of the church that are injured need the members that have recovered from their injuries through Christ’s healing and have gained the resources strength to help their brethren. Through Christ all have made perfect and yet that perfection is manifested through our surrender and obedience to his Lordship. And this is where it is difficult for the injured!
The injured members (who were once all of us) are aware enough to know they need the Savior and yet may falter in their awareness of what it means to live life through their Savior. It is not a matter of desire, it is the matter of awareness, knowledge, and degree of injury that one has incurred. Consider the man by the pool of Bethesda in John 5. The text starts off noting all kinds of injuries lay by the poolside; blind, lame, and paralyzed. The man’s illness was not shared yet it does note he was sick as well. And does he not respond as the injured when asked if he wants to be healed. He vacillates and considers what is around versus what is within.
Remember the quote on how awareness is erased and denial cultivated. Did not this man respond void of awareness? Have you encountered someone who upon inquiry responded unaware and void of understanding? This is the first hint that there is an issue under what you see that has impaired them. Just like it wasn’t important to note the man’s illness in the text, is it not important what the issue is, it is important to be conscious of the dynamic concerning the person. Members must practice being empathetic and not hardened, being available and not judgmental, being patient and not rushed because something is awry within.
Christ knew the man required healing when the man knew it, but stopped expecting it. The man had only taken station by the pool but resigned himself that he’d continually be overlooked – not by God directly but the help that was available through others. He lived in the climate of what so many of us live in regardless if we are in the church or not, we are constantly overlooked and have become accepting of our circumstances. This is not God’s will for us as it was not for the man by the pool.
Consider what you may be accepting that is not what God is accepting. Consider if you are the help that God has sent for one stuck by the pool. Is that which God has healed within you an opportunity for you to help someone uncover their healing? 1 Corinthians 12:24-26 ESV instructs:
“On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
Remember that decision making is relative making it more difficult to attain the state of healthy decision making for the injured. If it takes practice for a person with all of their limbs to participate in a sport consider the increased difficulty for the impaired. Impairment does not equal impossibility as functional does not equate an aptitude for accomplishment. Consider that if even one member suffers, all suffer together. Let’s not leave each other behind…