Tag: fear

NEEDLESS PAIN

girl sad

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

This famous hymn, written by Joseph Scriven in 1855 was just another lovely hymn I enjoyed until it became a source of comfort for me some years back when my younger sister fell very ill. It was a very difficult period for the family and I was filled with fear and uncertainty anytime I saw her.

My heart would skip a beat and I would be filled with dread wondering what could happen next. This went on for some time until one day when the words of these lyrics dropped into my spirit. “Oh, what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!”

There I was, rooted in fear and dread, feeling  powerless and hopeless. I fed my fear with worry and anxiety when I could go to a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18: 24 says “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” And according to the lyrics above and also according to me, that friend is Jesus!”

Casting all your cares upon him; for he cares for you; 1 Peter 5:7. And that is what I did. I went to Him with all my deepest fears about the situation and bared it all out to him. And even though we went through some very difficult times as a family after that, God miraculously came through to heal her in an amazing encounter.

Yes, he cares for you and is waiting for you to come to him with all the worries and fears that daily plague your mind weighing you down with sorrow and depression. You may be going through a different trial than what i have narrated. But the solution is still the same.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; Matthew 11:28. Yes, there is rest in baring it all out to that special friend who does not judge or condemn but takes up your burdens and offers you a lighter yoke

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:29-30.

This encounter led me to research the origin of the hymn that comforted me in a very difficult period in my life. Sadly, the evening before their wedding, Scriven’s fiance drowned.  Shortly after moving to Canada to become a teacher, Scriven became engaged to Eliza Roche.

Tragedy struck again and Eliza passed away from illness shortly before marriage. It is still uncertain whether Scriven’s death was natural or engineered by suicide.

But one thing is for sure, worrying and carrying a burden which you can do nothing about is indeed entertaining needless pain. Hand it over to the one who truly cares, the one who can do what you cannot do, the friend who feels your pain and gave His life for you.

Lay it down at the cross and trust Him to take care of your needless pain.  Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  Matthew 6:27.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

 

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ME AND MY ITCHY EARS!

ME AND MY ITCHY EARS!

Are you a Lebanese? Wait a minute, was he referring to me? I was trapped, I couldn’t turn left or right; it was me alright. The man of God was looking straight at me, asking a question. Every member of the congregation looked to me for an answer. Unfortunately, it was not in the affirmative as they expected. No, I am not Lebanese, I responded. I didn’t add that the blood running through me is 100% Ghanaian although it can be argued that there is a foreign trace from my mother’s lineage.

This was one of the powerful prophets in Ghana or was I wrong? At least that is what I had been told by some respectable colleagues. How come he couldn’t detect I wasn’t Lebanese? Okay let me be merciful to him; he is not the only one to mistake me for someone who comes from another part of the world. Maybe the blonde streaks I had added to my hair contributed to his confusion. But I was surprised a prophet of such repute would make such a mistake. Could it be that he was looking at the physical rather than tapping into the spiritual?

As if that was not enough, he went on to tell me horrible things that the devil had in store for me. Some of the leading questions he asked were totally off track, but I could not vindicate myself. He said things about me that was directly opposite to the reality. But what could I do; I was in the midst of strangers who could not vouch for me. Anytime I answered differently to what he expected me to say, the congregation reacted as if I was lying. What would you do in such a horrible situation? I chose to remain silent and pray that he would quickly finish his prophecy and move on to his next victim. Thank God it was soon over!

What a shame! I wondered what those present would think of me. Fortunately, they were entranced with listening to his banter with his next victim. I was already forgotten; but as for me, I could never forget. This experience left me in fear as I thought of all the evil things the devil had in store for. I couldn’t take my mind of how helpless I had been to defend myself from the untruths in the prophecy. I would wake up in the middle of the night in fear. Unable to take it anymore, I recounted my ordeal to members of my church’s weekly prayer group. They held my hand and prayed for me. God being so good, I was totally set free from that spirit of fear and evil forebodings.

In another incidence, a friend of mine invited myself and other friends to an all-night prayer service in her home. The so-called man of God who was invited to lead the prayer service began prophesying to each of us. When it got to my turn, he told me he had told my friend I would come to the service. And that it was time for me to get closer to God. The way he spoke, it was as if, I did not know God. He sounded as if he had waved a magic wand to get me into the presence of God, my Father. Does this man know who he is talking about at all, I asked myself.

Funny, how people misjudge others from appearance. Interesting how a woman with long robes and a face without makeup is considered holier than the other with a different fashion taste. Don’t get me wrong, I am not referring to improper dressing that exposes what needs to be covered. Or could it be the fact that in my youthful exuberance, I had added two more piercings to my poor ears? Maybe that made it look like there was a wide chasm between God and me. In any case; it was not fun to have someone who knew nothing about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ sound so judgmental.

I remember my younger sister and I desperately wanted to attend an all-night prayer service few years ago. The man of God scheduled to attend had visited our church few weeks ago and we had taking a liking to his teachings. It was being organized by an Anglican church in a community not too far from ours. We were told it was going to be held in a particular high school in that community. Unfortunately, the school we had asked the taxi driver to drive us to was not the one in which the service would be held. But it was too late; the driver had driven off oblivious to our plight. However, we realized there was another Christian prayer service also taking place at that venue.

Are we not serving the same God, we deliberated? If we missed the all-night prayer service at the Anglican Church, we could just join these other worshipers. Maybe God had purposefully directed us to this particular service; we reasoned. After all, like a friend of mine would say, if Jesus is at the center of a service then all Christians are welcome. So my sister Isabella and I made our way to the unknown prayer service. Another surprise! We were entering from the rear end of the church, so the pastor who was standing before the congregation was the only one who could see us. Just then, we heard him say that he had seen in the spirit that two women were about to join the service.

Wait a minute, were we dreaming? Isabella and I looked at each other in surprise not knowing whether to venture into the service or retreat. She followed my lead and went in, but we both knew we had to leave as soon as possible. We had missed it again! We courteously sat for a few minutes and slipped out during their time of praise and worship. Here we were, two young women out in the dark simply because we wanted to go to church! What were we going to do? We were in the middle of nowhere, and we did not want to go back home without attending the all-night prayer service. We prayed and asked God to send help; after all we were out there because of him.

Luckily, we spotted another taxi driver and told him about the Anglican Church service taking place in that community. He assured us he knew where to locate it; according to him, he had just dropped off some passengers at the service. So my sister and I sat in the taxi with me directly behind the driver and my sister by my side. It was in the name of self- defense or an unforeseen attack. That should tell you how scared we were though we did not let it show. Thank God, we did arrive safely to familiar and safer territories. The Church service was in full swing and we could see familiar faces dancing happily. What a relief! Our fear evaporated as we joined them in their joyful praises. We had arrived just in time for the sermon we had not wanted to miss.

These experiences have me very skeptical about prophecies and prophets in general. As a result, anytime I attend a prophetic service, I pray to God that if he has not spoken, no one should speak to me in his name. Thank God it has worked so far! But to tell you the truth, there are times I sit in such a service and wish the man of God would prophesy to me too. I know you are thinking, Matilda! Don’t you ever learn? Of course, I have learnt from my horrible experiences. But when I encounter a true man of God who does not speak unless God has spoken, I want a word! Can I get a witness?

I remember attending such a service with my sister Gloria. We were sitting right under the nose of this powerful man of God. I was in a bright yellow dress that shone brightly in the midst of the others. He would move past us and give wonderful prophecies to those around us and even those sitting behind us. Can’t he see anything? I whispered to my sister. Hmmm, my little sister sighed obviously also eager to hear something good from the man of God. I desperately wanted to know what God had in store for me.

Would it be a wonderful job or my wedding date? Would it be my sister’s secret desire or something special about my mum? Or would it be about my other younger sisters Alberta or Isabella? Wouldn’t it be nice to surprise them at home about how the prophet had seen something about them in their absence? And it was a day when God chose to spare his children from terrible prophecies. I tapped my feet impatiently and held my breath anytime he came close to us. Was he coming to tell me something? But again he would move on to someone sitting close to my sister and me. It was as if we did not exist.

The prophecies were flowing and almost everyone in the congregation seemed to receive a word. Finally, God had mercy on us and asked the man of God to give us a word. We had almost given up and were not expecting him to stop in front of us. However, he came to us and looked me straight in the eye. Guess what he said? God is in control! He turned to my sister and repeated the words God is in control. I waited eagerly for more but he just moved on to the next person. Wait a minute, was that all? I wondered, looking at my sister. What about a new car, a scholarship or a better job opportunity? God is in control? I already knew that!

I laugh at myself anytime I think of this particular encounter. Me and my itchy ears! But I now realize it was a very beautiful prophecy that spoke to my situation at the time. This was a prophet who was not moved to speak when God had not spoken. And this virtue is rare at a time when pleasing people has become more important than pleasing God. Yes, I have gone on to have other specific prophecies after that encounter. It has not all been positive; the devil still has some wicked things in store for me. However, I have a peace about it, since it did not come from a physical influence but the spirit of God. I know the victory had already been won. God reveals to redeem!

1 Corinthians 14:1-40 says “14 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,[b] but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,[c] unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

As for me, I have been both edified and obfuscated by prophecy. But it has played a very vital role in my spiritual walk. I would have given up in certain areas of my life but for the edification and encouragement I received through prophecy. According to Acts 2:17-18 “in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”

Prophecy is a beautiful spiritual gift that will be poured on so many believers in these last days. This is according to the above scripture. But if we are not circumspect, it will do us more harm than good. So let us not ignore 1 John 4: 1 that cautions “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Even as many wolves walk among the flock, let us not rubbish prophecies as admonished in “1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good.”