Overcoming Illness: I Had to Believe What I’ve Read and Written About (Part 2)

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Dear Brothers and Sisters: This writing continues as Part 2 of 2  to the previous post I wrote sharing with you my present season of trial in overcoming illness and being restored to health. This has not only been a physical battle but also a spiritual battle in rejecting the enemy’s lies about my future and God’s plans for me. In this experience, God has revealed several things to me which I will share to hopefully encourage you in your current or upcoming trial. Most importantly, I’ve learned that: our God is greater than our circumstances, He is so near to us even at times if you do not perceive His presence, He goes out of His way to remind us of His faithfulness toward us and love for us…and that the devil remains and will always be a liar. I have also been encouraged by many of your “likes,” “shares” and comments on social media with regard to how the previous post blessed you. I am grateful to be used in God’s service for His Kingdom. I am also very thankful for those praying for me.

Lord, help me to see the treasure in this trial. -Joyce Meyer

In the previous post, I concluded that by God’s grace I am improving in health and yet await more concrete answers from my doctors’ appointments. In the waiting, those answers may come slowly. So how should we respond in the meantime?

Indeed, my need to have answers was consuming too much of my focus. During a text message exchange on the subject with a dear sister in Christ, I communicated to her my frustration of not having the full picture of whatever was going on with me. She responded with scripture and Godly counsel that reframed my thinking on the matter that would steer me in a more productive direction:

“I cannot say I understand what you’re going through and it seems quite terrifying by your description. However, I see you rallying to the trial and submitting to Christ and appealing to His mercy for help. I say, ‘Amen,’ and keep fighting my sister!!! Also, I look at how God uses healing to minister to our spirits, remove fleshly strength, increase our faith and to “see” the fragility of man against God’s power, strength and provision. I think about how your dependence on Him has grown and I say ‘Amen!’ I think perhaps the focus might be provision over answers. They may come in time as you work through the medical system but focusing on that “need” keeps you distracted from what God is providing in terms of strength and resources TODAY. Follow Him so close that you are looking at the hem of His garment. Remember He fed the 5,000 and His prayer was to thank His Father for the few fish and loaves He had in hand. Thank God for what is in your hand to open the supernatural abundance that only God can give. I say this to slow down your thoughts and encourage you not to lose the precious holy ground you’ve gained through faith and trust in Him. As it says in James 1:2…“let steadfastness have its full effect”–in other words, don’t cut short your trial because the full effect is that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Lacking in nothing my sister!!! Our God is a burden bearer, our great physician and healer. His work is mighty and our requests are but a shadow of what He wants to accomplish! Be strong and courageous and keep on today with what generous provision He has blessed you with TODAY! Our God is so faithful!”

My dear sister’s words resonated with me and I’ve referred back to them often to remind myself to be grateful and thankful for what God is doing TODAY. To thank Him for the improvements today that were not experienced yesterday. I am grateful!

The Next Health Scare

It was a couple weeks later that I began a doctor-recommended fruit and vegetable juice fast. This would help give rest to my digestive system and still gain nutrients while clearing out any toxins, food allergies, etc., that were aggravating my system. To give my body a reset. For the first couple days, I struggled on the fast for I was already in a weakened state from not being able to consume much without experiencing inflammation. I stayed with dear friends who lovingly cared for me and monitored my progress while on the fast. The fast was good for me as I began to see improvements, namely my energy returning, my digestive system seemed to be settled and my nasal allergies were dissipating.

However, as I continue to learn the sensitivities of my system, my dear friend had to drive me to the ER at 2 a.m., because of inflammation from one of the juices. My heart palpitations were faster and pounding harder than I had ever experienced and it greatly concerned me. The palpitations were likely exacerbated by my anxiousness (though I was trying to remain calm as I laid in her back seat) and also by the inflammation my body was fighting. I also had some vomiting. The ER attendants, seeing my condition, took my vitals and quickly wheeled me back to a trauma room to immediately slow down my heart rate. I didn’t even look at the monitor to the left and above my head, knowing that seeing the numbers would have made me even more nervous.

I am thankful for my dear friend for staying with me as the doctors and nurses got my system settled. Thank you God. When I tell you that I know He is with me, I can tell you for sure having gone through this process. He is indeed with me. I am thankful for my dear friend and her family as they continue to pray for my recovery. I was released from the ER later that morning and went home. I’ve since been prescribed medication to begin addressing my GI issues which has helped. Inflammation is little to no more and I’ve not had palpitations. Even with upcoming doctors’ appointments, I know though more than anything, it is my prayer time, meditating and believing on God’s Word, God’s faithfulness and healing, and the prayers of many that are restoring me to health. We are more than conquerors, my brothers and sisters! The enemy is defeated!

In encouraging words shared by another dear sister in Christ, she reminded me that “whatever God allows us to go through, we’re going to come out on the other side. The one question is, “Do you trust God?” So true. God will see us through it and if we trust Him, we will indeed come out victorious on the other side–like pure gold. There are indeed treasures wrapped in trials.

 

Treasure

What I’ve Learned in This Process to Hopefully Encourage You

  1. Humble yourself, cry out to the Lord. Acknowledge that you need His help and cannot do this by yourself. Surrender all notions of pride or self-sufficiency. At my most vulnerable times, I cried out like David, asking the Lord’s help. He has surely helped and rescued me (The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; – Psalm 34:15). Though I’ve known the Lord many years, I’ve known Him better in the fiery furnace.
  2. Don’t quit, never give up. Keep pressing. There are spiritual blessings, treasures wrapped in trials. James 1:2 assures us of this: “Let steadfastness have its full effect.” When the answers seem slow in coming or hard to understand, trust God.
  3. DEMOLISH arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and take EVERY thought captive to make it obedient to Christ, as told to us in 2 Corinthians 10:5. IMMEDIATELY, I reject any thought or attack of the enemy by responding with God’s Word, God’s promises of what God says about who He is, who I am and my future. This also means our thought life must be renewed and transformed out of the natural (Romans 12:2). 
  4. It’s not enough to read and hear God’s Word. We must also believe God’s Word and be doers/act in accordance to God’s Word as referenced in James 1:22.  I also meditate on God’s Word day and night (Joshua 1:8) and throughout the day. I believe God’s Word. I believe what I’ve read and written about. Now, it’s about holding fast to it and acting on it in every environment and situation. 
  5. Though I had God’s peace before, I am learning more what it means to abide, dwell in, rest in, be still in God’s peace. He has given us His peace (John 14:27) which is part of our inheritance. It’s already in us. We simply need to abide in it.
  6. Do not worry, do not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6), do not fret (Psalm 37:1). This is especially important if you battle anxiety which really is an unproductive anticipatory response (“what if”) about your future when we already know that God is the Chief and Designer of our future. He is already IN our future and He is the One keeping you and me in all moments even when we don’t have all of the answers. I am learning to live in the “right now.”
  7. Celebrate and GIVE THANKS for what God is doing in you, for you and through you TODAY–no matter what you see, how you feel or what you hear that would seek to contradict that God is at work and bringing all things together for your good.
  8.  God loves you and me SO MUCH and in so many ways. Nothing will ever, ever, ever separate us from His love (Romans 8:37-39).
  9. I’ve learned to forgive myself. I am certain that my health issues were created by or exacerbated by my fears and anxiety. As much as I’ve been a good steward of my health over the years by eating right, exercise, etc., I was upset that I allowed something like anxiety to cause me such problems. Anxiety and worry is a sin (and I repented to God about it) as it infers that I do not trust God and who He says He is and what He will do. Yet, God knew this point in my spiritual development would come. I am still being developed, being matured and being perfected in Christ Jesus. No challenge, no change. This is a lifelong journey for each of us who are in Christ Jesus and if we remain steadfast, we will one day be made complete, made perfect, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4). We will also be more of a blessing to equip and encourage others.
  10. Put aside all pride and reach out to others/allow others to help you. God truly blesses us through people as we were not designed to journey this life alone.
  11. Do not find it strange that you have come under attack by the enemy. As long as we’re Believers, we have a target on our back. Though the enemy roars like a lion, looking for someone to devour, be humble, stand firm in your faith and do not fear. Our enemy is on a short leash and will only be allowed to go so far. After you have suffered a little while, (God) will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10). I encourage you to read 1 Peter 5:5-11 which is the foundation scripture in this powerful sermon, “When Anxiety Attacks” delivered by Pastor Steven Furtick. I invite you to watch it.
  12. Lastly: We are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,). We are operating from and seated in a position of victory. We are not of this world. This world is not our home. We are traversing through this perishing, decaying, corrupt world as Ambassadors of Christ, each day walking more and more in the eternal land of the living and hopefully pointing the lost and deceived toward abundant life found only in Christ Jesus.

 

Heavenly Father, thank you, thank you for Your awesome, unconditional and unfailing love You have for us. Your love is beyond compare and I’m still in awe of You. I thank you for how you have cared and watched over us; how Your Presence is with us even in times when we may not feel You as strongly as in other situations. You are indeed with us. You will never leave us nor forsake us as you promised. Father, please forgive us for times we have allowed worry, fears, anxiety or Satan’s lies to overshadow and undermine Your powerful Word, Your promises. We demolish and take captive anything that is contrary to Your Word and what you have promised us. Thank you for patiently striving with us as You lovingly stand with us in the fiery furnace so we will be perfected, lacking nothing. May we stand in Your Truth and abide in your peace in the fiery furnace and at all times, not only being hearers of your Word, but also believers and doers. Shore up our faith that we may remain steadfast. Help us to persevere and encourage others to persevere so the spiritual treasures in our trials may be seen.

Father, be with those who are waiting on You and trusting You for their healing. May they be reminded of Your faithfulness in their lives and cling to that. Give them wisdom in how to proceed and also wisdom to their health care providers in how to treat them. As we wait and believe for the full manifestation of what we seek, may we thank you for what you are doing today, this very minute.

In Your Son Jesus’ Matchless and Mighty Name we ask this.

Amen

God loves you. I love you. Remain steadfast. He’s got you in the protective grip of His Hand.

-Nicole

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Surpassing Peace

Jason Alexandre photo small

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:7 (NLT)

Overburdened by worry. You’re not where you envisioned you would be at this point in your life. Maybe you were passed over for a promotion. It could be that your home which was once peaceful is now chaotic. Perhaps you no longer have the means to return to school as you always planned. A loved one may be suffering from a disease such as cancer or diabetes. Suddenly, imagining the future seems to snuff the light in you and extinguish your motivation and hope.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘worry’ as “to feel or cause to feel troubled over actual or potential difficulties.” In our text, the Apostle Paul offers us a cure to the distressing emotion of worry. A cure which is simply…contentment in ‘every’ condition of life (Philippians 4:11-12). Yet, this contentment can only come through living in Christ Jesus and allowing him to live through you. For hasn’t he given you the gift of eternal life when you trusted him as your personal Savior?

Have you forgotten that life on earth is training ground for eternity in Heaven?

Of course, there will be none of that which we are confronted with here but there will be unending worship and bliss in the Lord. Not worrying is a form of worship. For it means that you are completely dependent upon God and fully trust in His will for your life. Consequently, you glorify Him and affirm His sovereignty over all things.

So “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2 Present yourself daily to the Lord as one who is Kingdom minded and “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”-Philippians 4:8 Be assured that your name is written in the book of life.

Don't Worry God's Peace

 

The Apostle Paul recommends the remedy of all disconcerting and distracting anxieties which is simply, prayer. Yet, it pains my heart to see several who are nominal in the faith and won’t take the necessary burdens of joy to pray to the One who knows what they need. Worry is sin and folly. It leads to disease and death. Some say “Yes, I’m a Christian,” but they walk according to the flesh and not of the Holy Spirit.

Consequently, their mind runs wild thinking of maddening things that are not fully in their control. “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” – Romans 8:5-6 For “do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” – Amos 3:3

A right relationship with Christ will confirm your daily purpose and spur you on to enduring joyful duty. For when we come to him in prayer, we not only thank him for the good in our lives but for the mercies in which we have received day after day. Sure, we have wants and desires but we need not waste much time in expressing them for he knows them better than we do. His desire is that we value His mercy and demonstrate our sincere dependence upon Him. What is the peace of God but that comfortable sense of being reconciled to Him and now having been favored He imparts revelations of that future hope of heavenly blessedness which is greater than we can ever imagine.

So “don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”– Philippians 4:6-7 Amen

-Jason

Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is a Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

Learn more about Jason M. Alexandre here.

 

 

Worry Not

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. –Philippians 4:8

 

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

It can be easy to get carried away in our everyday respective professions. Routinely and often times mechanically we strive to complete our tasks day after day. While we must continue to earn a living using the talents and gifts given to us by God, losing sight of God’s love and the heavenly things he exhorts our minds to focus on can cause us to be stressed to the point of being overwhelmed into a depressive state. The apostle Paul admonished us in this passage of scripture for us to fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable and to think about things that are excellent and worth of praise. For thinking on these heavenly things points our minds back in the direction of our heavenly father, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

That same Jesus Christ who thought it was necessary to die on the cross for my and your sins. That same Jesus Christ who promised he would never abandon us and would be with us until the end of the age. –Matthew 28:20  That same Jesus who told us not to worry about everyday life and to be devoted to God as opposed to being devoted to earning money. For he said in Matthew 6:24-34, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly father feeds them.

And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

The scripture couldn’t be any clearer. Don’t worry. Enjoy life in Christ and know that you have a God who cares for you knowing exactly what you’ll need for TODAY. Be blessed. Amen

 -Jason M. Alexandre

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born on November 29, 1989 in Brooklyn, New York. However, at two years old he and his family moved to Philadelphia, PA. Later, Jason moved to Limerick, PA where he now resides. Jason is currently working toward obtaining his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. Although Jason’s career is Social Work, his spiritual passion is missions. Jason believes in actively answering the great commission call Jesus gave all Christians for the gospel to be spread from nation to nation. On a yearly basis, Jason primarily goes to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year Haiti Christianity visits different cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothes, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly evangelization takes place. Jason is currently their public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to be spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively.

Some People Just Need a Hug

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Some people just need a hug!

We can pretend to hold it all together when we are just about to crumble and cave. On Monday morning, I was on the brink of losing it.  The overwhelming pressures of work, being a single parent—with all the concerns and worries of my children’s well-being— really took its toll. That morning, I desperately asked God to send someone to encourage me. While I was preparing breakfast for my boss, he kindly witnessed to me of how my life and struggles have been a witness to him.  Then, a much needed conversation with our Voices Against the Grain editor-in-chief, lifted my spirit.  Later that morning, I had a great laugh with my sister but still through the day the struggle continued.  My 3-year-old niece asked me to dance with her as I lay on the couch tired and waking up from an afternoon nap.  Dancing with her strengthened me to get up and go on with my day. But it was a hug from my son and nephew after school that really brought things into perspective and gave me the breakthrough.

All I have is right now. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.  To worry and stress over things that are not even happening is worthless. As noted in Luke 12:25, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” I am blessed to have three Amazing children who I can hug and love. I am blessed to know that when I die, I will be in heaven. I am blessed to serve the One true God who not only sent one person to encourage me but many in one day!

God is in control and all I must do is continue to trust that Jesus has me covered. I may not have all that I want but I have exactly what I need. I encourage you to hug the ones you love, wholeheartedly praise the Lord above, and be tender to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Your hug just might be what the person next to you needs.

Psalm 46:1-“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Ana

About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principles are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Ana has served on the Missionary Field, and has served in and led praise and worship, web design, children’s ministry and youth ministry.  Ana’s most recent initiative is Georgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans.  Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.