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Archive for the ‘Miracles’ Category

What To Do When You Are Lonely In Marriage

SOURCE:  Mark Merrill

As humans, we are not meant to be isolated. We all crave deep and lasting connections with other people. But we know it’s possible to feel alone in the middle of a crowd, and it’s possible to sleep in the same bed with someone for years and still feel lonely. Many of us never expect to be lonely in marriage, hoping that our spouse will be the lifelong companion who saves us from loneliness. Over time, however, couples can gradually disconnect from one another and find themselves feeling isolated and withdrawn.

Loneliness is not just about physical proximity, it’s about emotional connection. FamilyLife’s Dr. Dennis Rainey and his wife, Barbara, explain, “You may have sex, but you don’t have love. You may talk, but you don’t communicate. You live together, but you don’t share life.”

If you’re feeling lonely in your marriage, here are some ways to reconnect with your spouse:

Make the first move. Feelings of loneliness are seldom felt by only one person in a relationship. If you’re feeling isolated, chances are your spouse is, too. Take the first step to reconnecting with them, even if it’s just a small gesture. Open up to them about how you feel and give them an opportunity to do the same. Healing cannot begin if you hide or mask your pain.

Forgive past hurts. Especially if you have been feeling alone for a long time, hurts have likely been building up in your marriage. Nothing breeds loneliness more than unforgiven hurt and conflict. If you have been wronged, make the decision to forgive your spouse. And if you have wounded them, seek their forgiveness immediately.

Spend time together. This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes couples get so busy or caught up in their individual lives that they neglect to simply spend time together. The less time a couple spends together, the more likely they are to feel distant from each other. This can be resolved by deliberately scheduling date nights in, date nights out, TV-free nights, and occasional weekend getaways—just for the two of you.

Make your time count. The quantity of time together is important, but so is the quality of that time. Couples have to be intentional about their time together to create a marital connection. When you and your spouse are talking, put down your cell phone, set aside distractions, and focus on each other. Find ways to bond over shared experiences: taking a walk, cooking dinner, going to a concert or sporting event, or playing a board game or cards together. Encourage and compliment your spouse. Make your moments together count.

Prioritize physical closeness. This is not just referring to sexual intimacy, though that is certainly an important part of marital closeness, but also to the little things that may have fallen by the wayside like holding hands or snuggling on the couch. The key to resurrecting physical touch is to start small. Sit close to each other, give neck massages, and pull out a surprise kiss. Getting closer physically will naturally lead to feeling closer emotionally.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. While the idea of seeking outside input on your marriage can be intimidating to many people, nearly every couple can benefit from marriage counseling. Getting an outside perspective can be extremely helpful to you and your spouse. Read my post to help determine if you should get counseling, and find tips to make sure you find the best counselor for you.

You may feel lonely in your marriage, but you are not alone in the struggle for marital intimacy. We have all experienced loneliness in our lives, but you don’t have to feel it in your marriage.

Articles: “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” and “Jesus, The Perfect Man”

Source:  Bill Bellican

Article_ CA_Yes Virginia_Jesus Perfect Man

The linked articles (above) have run in the Memphis Commericial Appeal in years past.  I don’t know if that still is the case.

“Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” originally was first printed in 1897; “Jesus, The Perfect Man” was first printed in 1912.

I cut these out of the paper a number of years ago and still enjoy them.  I hope you enjoy them, too.

Blessings in Christ……

Marriage: Making it happen without robbing a bank

SOURCE:  Today’s Christian Woman

Looking for a way to make your marriage a priority in the midst of rearing your family?

Consider these strategies:

Childcare Options:
  1. Hire a teenager to commit to one night a week as your babysitter. This keeps your dates regularly scheduled and allows your children to become accustomed to a regular sitter.
  2. If grandparents, aunts, or uncles live in town, ask them to consider having a special night with the kids every week or every other week.
  3. Trade sitting with another family. One night you watch their children and the next week they watch yours.
Inexpensive Dates:
  1. Share a meal when you eat out. (Make sure to tip the waiter the estimated cost of two meals because he’s serving two people.)
  2. Check out the local ice cream shop and order a root beer float complete with two straws!
  3. Explore the zoo or a museum.
  4. Take ballroom dancing classes at the local Parks and Recreation Center.
  5. Go out for pie.
“No Cost” Dates
  1. Take a walk in the park, holding hands and talking.
  2. Spread a blanket on the ground and enjoy the night sky.
  3. Take a bike ride.
  4. Go to a bookstore and find books to look at and dream together.
  5. Revisit the location of your first date and reminisce.
  6. Put the kids to bed and watch your wedding video or look at your wedding photos.
  7. Take a drive in the country and talk about your dream home.
  8. Slow dance in your bedroom or living room.
  9. Have a quiet evening at home, make a meal, light some candles, and rent a movie.

When Jesus Makes You Wait in Pain

SOURCE:  Jon Bloom/Desiring God

The reason there was a “Palm Sunday” was because Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 12:17–18). It was perhaps the most powerful, hope-giving miracle Jesus ever performed during his pre-cross ministry; the capstone sign of who he was (John 5:21–25).

That’s why the Apostle John wrote, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was” (John 11:5–6).

The word “so” connecting those two sentences is stunning. The most loving thing Jesus could do at that moment was to let Lazarus die. But it didn’t look or feel like love to Martha.


“Martha, the Teacher has come. He’s near the village.”

Martha’s emotions collided. Just hearing that Jesus was near resuscitated hope in her soul — the same hope she had felt the day she sent word for him to come.

But it was quickly smothered with grief and disappointment. Lazarus had died four days earlier. She had prayed desperately that Jesus would come in time. God had not answered her prayers. What could Jesus do now?

And yet… if anyone could do something, Jesus could. He had the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Martha hurried out.

When she saw Jesus, she could not restrain her grief and love. She collapsed at his feet and sobbed, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Jesus laid his hand on her head.

He had come to Bethany to destroy the devil’s works (1 John 3:8) in Lazarus. He had come to give death a taste of its coming final defeat (1 Corinthians 15:26). He had come to show that now was the time when the dead would hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who heard would live (John 5:25).

Martha did not know all this. Neither did she know that what was about to happen would hasten Jesus’ own death—a death that would purchase her resurrection and both of Lazarus’s. She didn’t know how this weighed on him, how great was his distress until it was accomplished (Luke 12:50).

But Jesus’ wordless kindness soothed her.

When Martha’s sorrowful convulsion had passed she said, “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”

Jesus gently lifted Martha’s eyes and looked at her with affectionate intensity. “Your brother will rise again.”

His living words revived her hope. Could he mean…? No. She dared not let herself hope in that way. Not after four days.

“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Yes. Lazarus would rise again on the last day. Martha had no idea how deeply Jesus longed for that day. But Jesus meant more than that.

He replied, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

The power with which Jesus spoke caused faith to swell in Martha’s soul. She wasn’t sure what this all meant, but as he spoke it was as if death itself was being swallowed up (1 Corinthians 15:54). No one ever spoke like this man (John 7:46).

She answered, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”


We know how this story from John chapter eleven ends. But in the horrible days of Lazarus’s agonizing illness and in the dark misery of the days following his death, Martha did not know what God was doing. He seemed silent and unresponsive. Jesus didn’t come. It’s likely that she knew word had reached him. She was confused, disappointed, and overwhelmed with grief.

And yet, Jesus delayed precisely because he loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus. He knew that Lazarus’s death and resurrection would give maximum glory to God and his friends would all experience maximum joy in that glory. It would make all their suffering seem light and momentary (2 Corinthians 4:17).

When Jesus makes a trusting saint wait in pain, his reasons are only love. God only ordains his child’s deep disappointment and profound suffering in order to give him or her far greater joy in the glory he is preparing to reveal (Romans 8:18).

Before we know what Jesus is doing, circumstances can look all wrong. And we are tempted to interpret God’s apparent inaction as unloving, when in fact God is loving us in the most profound way he possibly can.

So in your anguish of soul, hear Jesus ask with strong affection, “Do you believe this?”


Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of the forthcoming book Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith (April 30, 2013)

Romantic Differences

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by by Barbara Rainey/Family Life Ministry

The Same, Only Different

Male and female created he them.

Genesis 1:27

Dennis and I received a cute email about the romantic differences between men and women. It began by asking, “How do you romance a woman?”

Answer: “Wine her, dine her, call her, cuddle with her, surprise her, compliment her hair, shop with her, listen to her talk, buy flowers, hold her hand, write love letters, and be willing to go to the end of the earth and back again for her.” I could go along with that.

But when it asked the same question the other way–“How do you romance a man?”–the answer was much more brief and to the point.

Answer: “Arrive naked. Bring food.”

Ahhh . . . men.

But in a way, this blending of our romantic differences is similar to how you make a good salad dressing.

Oil and vinegar are about as dissimilar as condiments get. The only thing they have in common is that they are liquids. Other than that, they’re night and day. Oil is smooth; vinegar is sharp. Oil is thick; vinegar is thin. Left alone in the same bottle, the two will always migrate to opposite ends and remain there forever–unless shaken.

Interestingly, however, even after the bottle has been shaken, the two ingredients retain their unique identities. And yet they complement each other in a savory unity. Together, they serve as a zesty finish to an otherwise bland mix of lettuces.

And so it is in marriage.

No matter how many times a husband and wife come together, they always remain unique. He will always think like a man; she, like a woman. And although their innate design will never change, they can better understand each other and move to love one another with compassion, knowing that in so doing, they create a savory blend of romantic intrigue.

Pray for patient understanding and for new ways of embracing and loving this wonderful person you married.

Children: The Biggest “Need Machines”

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Barbara Rainey/Family Life Ministry

Need Machines

Over our doors are all choice fruits, both new and old, which I have saved up for you, my beloved.

Song of Solomon 7:13

Without question, the biggest deterrent to romance for moms is children.

These sweet, precious, innocent little ones given to us by God are also self-centered, untrained, unending “need machines” who can suck the life out of our marriage. They often leave us feeling like the mother who said, “It’s ironic. Romance gave us our children, and children ended our romance.”

But motherhood can simply be a tempting excuse for giving up sex.

Caught up in her day-in-day-out responsibilities, a mother can experience a slow shift in loyalty from husband to children. She thinks the needs of her children, since they are so helpless and formative, are more important than the needs of her husband. After all, he’s an adult.

True. And yet one reason why this reasoning is faulty–one reason why it’s easy for us to have little sympathy for our husband’s sexual needs–is that we as women are able to experience our femaleness simply by nurturing our children. We feel fully alive as women when we’re caring for them (that is, when we’re not totally exhausted!). We feel a deep, innate sense of well-being and fulfillment; it is an indescribable privilege that brings us profound satisfaction. It’s what we were made to do.

But it’s only part of being a woman. God didn’t create you with the capacity and compulsion to nurture just for the sake of your children. He also meant for you to nurture life in your husband. Maintaining this balance is one of the biggest challenges of the parenting years; your children need to see Dad and Mom in love.

Nurturing life in your husband may not be as automatic as it is with your children, but it is no less important. God will help you balance the needs of both husband and children when you depend upon Him.

Pray for God’s wisdom in balancing life’s demands.

30 Ways to Start a Conversation With Your Spouse

SOURCE:  Family Life Ministry/Tracey Eyster

Recently a friend told me she sometimes has trouble talking with her husband. And I thought,Wouldn’t it be nice if someone made a list of conversation starters that could be used by a husband and a wife for a whole month?

Which then got me to thinking, Well, I am a writer.

1. My funniest memory of our dating days is when …

2. Our kids would freak out if they knew we …

3. Before we are together in heaven, I pray that here on earth we …

4. I have this memory of you in a certain outfit. Remember …

5. The most scared you have ever been was …

6. The happiest you have ever been was …

7. I remember thinking I was courageous when I was young because I …

8. I used to always wish I could …

9. If I could spend a day just talking to any one person, it would be …

10. I wish I had learned to …

11. I picture us old, sitting in a rocking chair and you looking over at me and saying, “Daggum it, we never …”

12. If I could spend 24 hours doing anything in the world with you, it would be …

13. I like it best when you refer to me as …

14. The song that always makes me think of you is …

15. My sweetest memory of us in our youth is when we …

16. My favorite memory of our wedding day is …

17. My greatest need right now as a woman is to …

18. My greatest need right now as a man is to …

19. If I could have any super power, it would be …

20. If I could eat anything and it not affect my health, I would feast on …

21. If I could have lived during a different time period, it would be …

22. I laugh every time I think of you doing …

23. I would so enjoy reading out loud together …

24. If we could be roadies for any musical talent, I would choose …

25. If I had it to do over, I would propose to you by …

26. The world’s best anniversary trip would be to go to …

27. My favorite photo of us is the one where …

28. Did you know that it scares me so much to …

29. When we fell in love, my favorite thing about you back then was …

30. I feel you love me the most when you …

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

This article originally appeared on MomLife Today, FamilyLife’s blog for moms.

[Tracey Eyster is managing editor of MomLife Today and author of the new book, Be the Mom.]

20 Ideas for Dating Your Wife

SOURCE:   Family Life Ministry/Justin Buzzard

Men, you know your wife better than anyone else, and only you know how to best encourage and cultivate her as a woman of God. But sometimes it helps to build off other people’s ideas in order to form your own. Here are 20 ideas that I hope will spark your thinking about how you can date your wife.

1. Attend a wedding. Sit in the back row and spend the whole time whispering memories from your own wedding.

2. Make a list of 10 things your wife loves to do. Each new time you take your wife on a date, do one of those 10 things as your date.

3. Take up a new hobby with your wife; do something new that you’re both excited about.

4. Do the classic date: dinner and a show. Take your wife to din­ner and to a movie she wants to watch.

5.  Take a 12-month honeymoon with your wife. Relive your honeymoon by scheduling a 24-hour getaway for every month of this year. Each month go somewhere new with your wife.

6. Devote one hour each night for alone time with your wife. Talk about how your days went. Joke around with each other. Cultivate your friendship. Talk honestly about what’s going on in your lives. Help each other. Encourage each other. Pray together.

7. Mark your wife’s birthday, your wedding anniversary, and Mother’s Day on your calendar every year and plan to make those days special.

8. Write a love note to your wife. Tell her all over again what she means to you.

9. Spend an evening stargazing with your wife and talking about dreams you have for the future.

10. Spend an evening reminiscing with your wife about all you’ve been through together and all God has done and redeemed in your life together.

11. Devote the next month to studying a book of the Bible with your wife. Take 20 minutes several nights a week to read, discuss, and pray through a shorter book such as Ephesians or Philippians.

12. Visit your roots. Visit where your wife grew up and where you grew up. Learn more about each other’s backgrounds.

13. Hold your wife’s hand often, in public and in private.

14. Tell your wife that you love her.

15. Tell your wife that Jesus loves her more than you do.

16. Set a weekly date night. Each week rotate going out and stay­ing in for your date night.

17. Cancel work for the day and do something special with your wife.

18. Take dancing lessons with your wife.

19. Cut something from your schedule and use that time to date your wife.

20. Vacation with your wife without your kids, without your work, and without your cell phone and computer.

Adapted by permission from Date Your Wife, by Justin Buzzard, ©2012, Crossway Books.

Redefining Marriage: How Tragic!

SOURCE:  Andrew Comiskey

Obama’s Endorsement of Gay Marriage Fails Us All

How tragic that the most influential political leader on earth would use his power to redefine marriage.

He bowed his knee to the lie that justice means giving gays all they clamor for, rather than what they need.

In that, Obama failed to love gays well. He has failed to act authentically as a Christian, and has failed generations to come whose foundations will be further shaken by yet another battering of marriage.

My hope is that Obama’s delusion would wake up all Christians to the good battle Jesus calls us to in this time. We must make every effort to extend God’s mercy to those with SSA in the hope that they might repent unto Jesus Christ. And we must make every effort to ensure that marriage is upheld as one man for one woman for the sake of the children they create.

Grieved as we are, we can take heart that God loves marriage and our fight for its essence. Through marriage, He dignifies human sexuality and renders it truly creative and life-giving.

Pornography: Q & A — Should I Marry A Man With Porn Struggles?

SOURCE:  Russell Moore

Should I Marry a Man with Pornography Struggles?

A couple of months ago, I posted a question about an ethical dilemma a recently engaged woman is facing. She just found out that her spouse to-be has had “ongoing struggles with pornography.” She isn’t sure what to do, or how to make sure the issue is sufficiently addressed. You gave your thoughts on the issue, and here are mine.

Dear Engaged and Confused,

Far too many women are watching “The Notebook” or “Twilight” for indicators on what kind of man they should marry. Instead, you probably should watch “The Wolf Man.”

Have you ever seen any of those old werewolf movies? You know, those in which the terrified man, dripping with sweat, chains himself in the basement and says to his friends, “Whatever you do, no matter what I say or how I beg, don’t let me out of there.” He sees the full-moon coming and he’s taking action to protect everyone against himself.

In a very real sense, that’s what the Christian life is about. We all have points of vulnerability, areas of susceptibility to sin and self-destruction. There are beings afoot in the universe who watch these points and who know how to collaborate with our biology and our environment to slaughter us.

Wisdom means knowing where those weak points are, recognizing deception for what it is, and warring against ourselves in order to maintain fidelity to Christ and to those God has given us.

What worries me about your situation is not that your potential husband has a weakness for pornography, but that you are just now finding out about it. That tells me he either doesn’t see it as the marriage-engulfing horror that it is, or that he has been too paralyzed with shame.

What you need is not a sinless man. You need a man deeply aware of his sin and of his potential for further sin. You need a man who can see just how capable he is of destroying himself and your family. And you need a man with the wisdom to, as Jesus put it, gouge out whatever is dragging him under to self-destruction.

This means a man who knows how to subvert himself. I’d want to know who in his life knows about the porn and how they, with him, are working to see to it that he can’t transgress without exposure. I’d want to know from him how he plans to see to it that he can’t hide this temptation from you, after the marriage.

It may mean that the nature of his temptation means that you two shouldn’t have computer in the house. It might mean that you have immediate transcription of all his Internet activity. It might be all sorts of obstacles that he’s placing in his way. The point is that, in order to love you,  he must fight (Eph. 5:25; Jn. 10), and part of that fight will be against himself.

Pornography is a universal temptation precisely because it does exactly what the satanic powers wish to do. It lashes out at the Trinitarian nature of reality, a loving communion of persons, replacing it with a masturbatory Unitarianism.

And pornography strikes out against the picture of Christ and his church by disrupting the one-flesh union, leaving couples like our prehistoric ancestors, hiding from one another and from God in the darkness of shame.

And pornography rages, as Satan always does, against Incarnation (1 Jn. 4:2-3), replacing flesh-to-flesh intimacy with the illusion of fleshless intimacy.

There’s not a guarantee that you can keep your marriage from infidelity, either digital or carnal, but you can make sure the man you’re following into it knows the stakes, knows how to repent, and knows the meaning of fighting the world, the flesh, and the devil all the way to a cross.

In short, find a man who knows what his “full moon” is, what it is that drives him to vulnerability to his beastly self. Find a man who knows how to subvert himself, and how to ask others to help.

You won’t find a silver bullet for all of this, but you just might find a gospel-clinging wolf man.

(Image Credit)

A Purpose in the Pain

Source:  Ligonier Ministries

A Purpose in the Pain: An Interview with Joni Eareckson Tada

by Joni Eareckson Tada

Tabletalk: For our readers who are unfamiliar with your story, would you share how you became quadriplegic?

Joni Eareckson Tada: For years, I was one of those who insisted, “Handicaps happen to other people, not me.” But all that changed on a hot July afternoon in 1967 when my sister Kathy and I went to a beach on the Chesapeake Bay for a swim. The water was murky, and I didn’t bother to check the depth when I hoisted myself onto a raft anchored offshore. I dove in and instantly felt my head hit something hard — my neck snapped and I felt a strange electric shock. Underwater and dazed, I felt myself floating and unable to surface for air. Thankfully, Kathy noticed my plight and quickly came to the rescue. When she pulled me out of the water, I saw my arm slung over her shoulder, and yet, I couldn’t feel it. I knew then that something awful had happened. Later, at the hospital, I learned I had severed my spinal cord and would be left a quadriplegic for the rest of my life. I was devastated.

TT: When you first discovered that you would never use your arms and legs again, what went through your mind and how did you cope with this reality?

JT: Lying in the hospital, I recalled that just months earlier I had asked God to draw me closer to His side. Now, stuck in bed, I wondered if my paralysis was His idea of an answer to that prayer. If this was the way He treated new Christians, how could He ever be trusted with another prayer again? Obviously, God’s ways were far different than mine, and, for a long time, that idea both frightened and depressed me. But where else could I turn? To whom could I go? I remember praying, “God, if I can’t die, then show me how to live.” Many days afterward, I would sit in front of a Bible, holding a mouth-stick between my teeth and f lipping the pages, praying that God would help me put together the puzzle pieces of my suffering.

TT: Which passages of Scripture have given you encouragement during your struggles with disability and cancer?

JT: Psalm 79:8 says, “May your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need” (NIV). Basically, I wake up almost every morning in desperate need of Jesus — from those early days when I first got out of the hospital, to over four decades in a wheelchair, it’s still the same. The morning dawns and I realize: “Lord, I don’t have the strength to go on. I have no resources. I can’t ‘do’ another day of quadriplegia, but I can do all things through You who strengthen me. So please give me Your smile for the day; I need You urgently.” This, I have found, is the secret to my joy and contentment. Every morning, my disability — and, most recently, my battle with cancer — forces me to come to the Lord Jesus in empty-handed spiritual poverty. But that’s a good place to be because Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3, NIV).

Another anchor is Deuteronomy 31:6, where God tells me, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified [of quadriplegia, chronic pain, or cancer], for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (NIV). I’m convinced a believer can endure any amount of suffering as long as he’s convinced that God is with him in it. And we have the Man of Sorrows, the most God-forsaken man who ever lived, so that, in turn, He might say to us, “I will never leave you; I will never forsake you.” God wrote the book on suffering and He called it Jesus. This means God understands. He knows. He’s with me. My diving accident really was an answer to that prayer to be drawn closer to Him.

TT: How important is it for a person with a disability to have the support of his or her family and church during such times?

JT: God never intended that we should suffer alone, that we should suffer for nothing. This is why spiritual community is so important to a person who has undergone a catastrophic injury or illness — his family and the church keep him connected to reality, help ascribe positive meaning to his pain, bring him out of social isolation, and point him to the One who holds all the answers in His hand. Without family and the church, a person with a disability is adrift in a sea of hopelessness. We must not let that happen.

TT: How would you encourage someone who has recently been diagnosed with a permanent illness or disability?

JT: First, it’s okay to cry; it’s important to grieve. Romans 12:15 shows us that God doesn’t expect us to stifle our tears, so we shouldn’t expect it of each other. It’s a hard thing to first swallow a bad medical report or the birth of your child with a disabling condition, and it takes time to digest the reality. But sooner or later, we have to put aside the Kleenex and start thinking, start searching out God’s heart in the matter — because it’s not enough to merely cope or adjust; God wants us to embrace His purpose for the pain a s good and acceptable (Rom. 12:2b).

TT: What is the best way to help nondisabled people view disabled people as more than just the sum of their disabilities?

JT: Inside every person using a wheelchair, a white cane, or a walker is a person who is just like you, someone with hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, opinions and views, and memories of childhood and vacations. Try to look past the strokeravaged body or the blind eyes or the wheelchair to see that this individual is an image-bearer of God — a person with human dignity and life potential. And look for ways to help that person discover his innate worth and purpose for living — realizing that he can help you discover the same.

TT: Your most recent book is A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’ s Sovereignty. Can you tell us why you wrote this book?

JT: For more than ten years I have dealt with chronic pain (very unusual for a quadriplegic like me). Piled on top of my quadriplegia, at times it seemed too much to bear. So I went back and reexamined my original views on divine healing to see what more I could learn. What I discovered was that God still reserves the right to heal or not to heal as He sees fit.

And rather than try to frantically escape the pain, I relearned the timeless lesson of allowing my suffering to push me deeper into the arms of Jesus. I like to think of my pain as a sheepdog that keeps snapping at my heels to drive me down the road to Calvary, where, otherwise, I would not be naturally inclined to go.

TT: How doe s Joni and Friends International Disability Center impact the world today?

JT: I’m honored to lead a gifted team of like-hearted believers who are passionate about making Jesus real among people around the globe who are suffering from all sorts of disabilities and diseases. Through our Wheels for the World outreach, gifted physical therapists travel with us to hand-fit needy disabled people in developing nations to wheelchairs. Plus, we give them Bibles and do disability ministry training in local churches. Joni and Friends also holds scores of Family Retreats each summer across the United States and around the world, serving more than thirty-five hundred disabled children, adults, family members, and volunteers.

I pray that God will give me many more years of strength and stamina so that I can continue to do the work He’s called me to. It’s why “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” That’s my paraphrase of Acts 20:24 and, for me, it’s what makes me get up in the morning with a smile.


Joni Eareckson Tada has lived in a wheelchair for more than forty years due to a diving accident at age seventeen. She is the founder of Joni and Friends, a nonprofit organization founded in 1979 to accelerate Christian ministry in the disability community through various outreach and church training programs. Joni and Friends has distributed more than thirty-eight thousand wheelchairs worldwide through Wheels for the World. Visit http://www.joniandfriends.org to learn more. Joni is also an author of more than forty-five books, including When God Weeps and A Lifetime of Wisdom: Embracing the Way God Heals You.

Gifts of Healings and Workings of Miracles

SOURCE:  A sermon by  John Piper/Desiring God

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were heathen, you were led astray to dumb idols, however you may have been moved. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Let me begin by summarizing some of the reasons why I think the “gifts of healings” and “workings of miracles” referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:9–10 are gifts still available to the church today. It may seem obvious to a simple reading. But there are many who say they are not. So basically what I have to do is respond to their arguments.

Against the Present Availability of These Gifts

Let me quote directly from a very popular teacher: “The four temporary sign gifts [his designation, not the Bible’s] were miracles, healings, tongues, and interpretations of tongues. These four sign gifts had a unique purpose—to give the apostles credentials, to let the people know that these men all spoke the truth of God. But once the Word of God was inscripturated, the sign gifts were no longer needed and they ceased.” The assumption in this argument is that the “gifts of healings” and “workings of miracles” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:9–10 refer only to what Jesus and the apostles could do (including Stephen, Barnabas, and Philip). These were not gifts given to ordinary Christians, but only to the authoritative leaders of the first generation. Then they disappeared.

The same teacher says, “We never see the gift [of healing] being used at random in the churches. It is a gift always associated with Christ, the Twelve (plus Paul), the seventy, and the close associates of the Twelve. The gift of healing was a limited one in terms of the people who possessed it, as was the gift of miracles. And like miracles, the gift of healing was used to authenticate and confirm the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom.” So you see how the argument works:

  1. first, you equate the “gifts of healings” in 1 Corinthians 12 with the unique authority of Jesus and the apostles (that’s the linchpin of the argument!);
  2. second, you show that the role of miracles for the apostles was to authenticate their teaching; and,
  3. third, it follows automatically that these gifts cease with the disappearance of the founding apostles who wrote our New Testament.

The Basic Assumption Doesn’t Stand

The problem with this view is that the basic assumption won’t stand up under scrutiny. The “gifts of healings” and “workings of miracles” in 1 Corinthians 12:9–10 are not limited to Jesus and the apostles. In fact the New Testament never describes the ability of Jesus and the apostles to work miracles as “the gift of healing” or “the gift of miracles.” When you read 1 Corinthians 12:7–10, you get the simple impression that these gifts are given according to God’s will to various people in the church: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the one Spirit, to another the workings of miracles . . . ” It does not seem to be a natural reading of these verses to say that what they mean is that NO ONE at Corinth gets the “gifts of healings” or the “workings of miracles,” but only Jesus and the apostles.

This looks even more unlikely when you read verse 28 where the gift of apostle seems clearly distinct from the “gifts of healings” and “miracles”: “God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings.” This looks like gifts of healings and miracles are different from and additional to the gift of apostle and prophet and teacher.

This is what we saw in Galatians 3:5 last week also. Paul writes to the Galatians and says, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” The most natural meaning of that verse is that God is working miracles in their midst by the Holy Spirit. He is doing this through the ordinary believers not through the apostles. This is just what we would expect in view of 1 Corinthians 12—the Spirit gives to some in the churches “gifts of healings” and “workings of miracles.”

Apostleship Authenticated by More than Miracles

I still stand by what I said last week, namely, that I want to honor the uniqueness of the apostles—that they are once for all eyewitnesses and authoritative revelatory spokesmen of the living Christ. We have their final revelation in the New Testament and that remains now and always will remain our measuring rod for all doctrine and experience. But now the question is: Do we need to keep the gifts of healings and miracles away from ordinary church members because that was the only way the apostles could authenticate themselves? No. The miracle working power of the apostles was only PART of what authenticated their authority. If the only thing that set the apostles apart as authoritative and true was their signs and wonders, then false prophets could claim the same authority and truth, because Jesus and Paul both tell us that false prophets will do signs and wonders to lead people astray (Matthew 24:242 Thessalonians 2:9; cf. Revelation 13:1416:14;19:20).

Alongside miracles Paul said that his apostleship was confirmed by at least a dozen other things. For example, in 1 Corinthians 9:1–2 he says, “Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you; for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.” Here there is no mention of miracles as Paul defends his apostleship. He had seen Jesus in person and God had blessed his ministry with life changing power in bringing the Corinthian church into being. That was his argument. In other words miracle working was only part of his credentials.

What that means is that the apostles’ uniqueness is not at all jeopardized when we say that gifts of healing and miracles were given to other Christians in the church at Corinth and in the churches of Galatia. And if that was true then, it is also true today. Gifts of healings today do not compromise or call into question the unique place of Jesus and the apostles or the unparalleled role that miracles had in their ministries. So as far as I can see the argument against the gifts of healings today is not compelling.

Three Comments About These Gifts

So I believe that “gifts of healings” and “workings of miracles” are for the church today—for Bethlehem today and for the mission of Christ in the world today. Let me say just three brief things about these gifts and then we can pick it up on Wednesday evening and say more and deal with questions.

1. Not for Self-Exaltation but for the Sake of Love

Gifts of healings and workings of miracles are not for self-exaltation but for the benefit of others. They could easily become the basis of pride just like teaching or preaching or mercy or hospitality or prophecy or any of the gifts. But they are meant to be expressions of love. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “Though I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” Gifts are not the main thing. Love is the main thing. Using gifts is one way to love.

This is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:7, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” It is a great danger to want signs and wonders because they sound neat or merely because you think they would make your faith stronger. That is almost a sure way to spiritual self-centeredness. What we should really want is that Christ be honored through our self-sacrificing love for others. The greatest need we have is not for gifts of healings. The greatest need is to care that people are sick—sick with soul-destroying sin, sick with emotional disorders, sick with physical disease, and often a tangled mixture of all three. The greatest miracle is that our hearts begin to care more about the lostness and pain of others than about our own personal comforts and leisure plans. When that miracle happens, we might be in a position to experience the lesser gifts of healings.

That’s the first thing to say: the gifts are all for the sake of love. So let’s let the love of Jesus for us break us down and build us up to love others.

2. Not the Ability to Heal at Will

The second thing to say is that if God gives you gifts of healing, it does not mean that you can heal at will or that everyone you pray for will be healed. Isn’t it interesting that the literal phrase in verse 9 is not “gift of healing” but “gifts of healings”—two plurals? I think this probably means that different kinds of gifts for different kinds of healings are given to various people according to God’s sovereign will. This alone would suggest that one person will not have a monopoly on every sort of healing that is necessary. And it suggests that there will be many times when a person with some gifts to heal will not be able to heal.

This was Paul’s experience. God gave him the grace to heal the crippled man in Lystra (Acts 14:10) and many people in Ephesus (Acts 19:12) and the demonized girl in Philippi (Acts 16:18) and Eutychus when he was taken up dead after falling out of a window (Acts 20:9–10). But Paul could not heal himself from the thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:8–9) or from the ailment that he had when he preached in Galatia (Galatians 4:13–14). And evidently he could not heal Timothy from his stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23) or Epaphroditus from his life threatening sickness (Philippians 2:26–27) or Trophimus whom he “left ill at Miletus” (2 Timothy 4:20). Sometimes Paul was given gifts of healings and sometimes he wasn’t. God is sovereign in this affair. Nothing is mechanical or automatic.

So the wording of 1 Corinthians 12:9 as well as Paul’s own experience teach us that there are varied gifts of healings that can be given to us at different times for different illnesses but no guarantees that because we have received a gift to heal in the past, we will receive one in any specific case in the future. Verse 11 says it is the Spirit who “apportions the gifts to each one individually as he pleases.” He is sovereign and can give or withhold a gift of healing whenever he deems best.

3. Rightly to Be Sought

Finally, this implies that we may rightly seek for gifts of healings. This is implied in the pursuit of love and compassion. Praying for healing is only one way to show love to someone. But it is one way. And once we realize this, we may be led to seek the gifts. I base the rightness of this also on 1 Corinthians 14:1. “Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts . . . ” Once you set your heart to pursue love, you will be in a position to be zealous for spiritual gifts. Among those spiritual gifts are “gifts of healings.” Therefore I think 1 Corinthians 14:1 urges us to seek this gift. It is subordinate to love. And it is not among the greater gifts like prophecy. But it is one of the humble lesser gifts of God. We would do well not to reject it or despise it or to exaggerate it. We should simply seek with all our hearts to do good to each other, and pray humbly that, if God wills, some of you would be granted gifts of healings for the blessing of the church and the glory of God’s name in the world.

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