He Turns My Mourning into Dancing
I had been dragging my feet the last few weeks. I was getting stuff done, but my physical ailments were consuming me. It’s easy to let that happen when my brain is sore, my body exhausted, and just looking at food makes me nauseous. The symptoms from the light therapy were getting to me. When that happens, it’s common that my mind and emotions tend to take a downward spiral after a while too. Pain and discomfort ware on me holistically after a time.
This led to me feeling like my season of wilderness would never end. My hope is always on Jesus, but as Proverbs 13:12 says, “Delayed hope makes the heart sick”. I was in another season of frustration, feeling like my brain injury was holding me back from being who God created me to be and doing what He desires.
As Psalms 37:7 says, we are to “Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him”. As the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they were to listen to the Lord and wait for the arrival of the Promised land. Though it could have been theirs early on, their doubt and fear got in the way causing them to have to wait it out. In a way, I think that was God’s intention the entire time.
The Israelites were in captivity for over 400 years. They were wired to do one thing: obey the Egyptians. If they told them to make bricks, they made bricks. They paid the price if they didn’t listen. Slavery was engrained in what they knew themselves to be. So, when they approached Canaan and saw giants stand before them, they were afraid. They would have easily surrendered to a new master and lost the privilege of owning the land God had promised Abraham many centuries before.
In order to turn from slaves to warriors, the Lord needed to retrain His people. They had to learn to be completely dependent on their Master; to trust Him to teach them how to live, fight, worship, and serve Him. He was the only Master they should serve and know. Through this, He would help them conquer all of their battles, always have provisions, and be able to flourish in who He created them to be. Old habits, sinful desires, and all the lies from the enemy needed to be squelched before they could advance forward though.
Jesus also replicated the testing that the wilderness brings in His human lifetime. He had been freshly baptized and commissioned by the Father to begin His ministry. What a profound moment! Then the Spirit picked Him up and plunked Him in the wilderness. This is something you wouldn’t expect right? He just geared up to start ministry. Testing in the wilderness wouldn’t exactly be where I’d want to start.
He listened to the Father and waited on Him during 40 days of no food, water, or distractions. Just Him and the Father together. He too needed to take some time to grow and learn. He had to separate Himself from His earthly family and all that He humanly knew, to prepare Himself for a season of incredible ministry.
But just before that time was finished, the enemy was on the prowl seeking to tear Jesus down and destroy Him. He loves getting into people’s lives in their most vulnerable moments. Because Jesus had all that time with the Father, surrendering Himself and waiting expectantly, He was able to fight Satan off with Truth and confidence in who He was.
“For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6). This verse is beautiful yet painful. The whole dying to self bit is not an easy process. It can make that delayed hope feel endless and painful.
But as Jeremiah 31:13 states, “I will turn their mourning into joy, give them consolation, and bring happiness out of grief.”
“There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;” Ecclesiastes 3:1,4
The Israelites eventually made it into the Promised land. Jesus not only defeated Satan in the wilderness and started His ministry, He crushed Satan for good! And He’ll return some day to bind him up for eternity!
Proverbs 13:12 doesn’t finish with a sick heart either. It completes the story: “Delayed hope makes the heart sick, but fulfilled desire is a tree of life. “
The Lord never leaves us hanging. Sure, my brain injured symptoms are still trying to win over, but they don’t get the last say. My love for the Lord does. My desire for Him outweighs the pain in my body. The flesh is to be counted as nothing. The Spirit and Life are what matters most. So, I will turn my focus to that, rather than let my body defeat me.
I will probably never cease praying for healing. I requested a prayer for that again from someone new this week. She in turn sent me a few verses to meditate on. All of them were good, but there was one that spoke most profoundly to me:
“Do not remember the past events,
pay no attention to things of old.
Look, I am about to do something new;
even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19
I immediately felt a release. It made me realize how much attention I was putting onto my illness. It was consuming me. I was humbled by this verse from the Lord. I felt Him telling me to let it all go. Focus on Him and the exciting things He is doing in my life.
I can’t ignore the pain in my head and the grossness in my body, but I don’t have to let them consume me. They are a part of me, as much as the thorn in Paul’s flesh was a part of him. But he chose not to let it consume him and take him down.
“…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13b-14
Whether your wilderness has been grief, infertility, chronic pain and/or illness, shame, fear or something else, leave it in the wilderness. See where the Lord was with you and at work in your life through that, then move forward in what He’s leading you into, knowing that He is equipping you with courage and confidence to step into it. Lean into Jesus and find strength in who He’s created you to be.
(Most verses listed in my posts are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible version)