Healing Trauma

Living through grief, loss or traumatic events will have an effect on the whole of our being: our body, our mind and our soul. Safe, loving community and familiar routines can help us begin our lives again. Yet more is needed. We long for healing of the pain and fear. We yearn for the restoration towards wholeness. Jesus too longs to be present to us in these places of need and yearning. He offers his comforting presence, his understanding, his hope, his provision and very real practical, care for our bodies. As your pray with this text, consider how Jesus might be inviting you to participate in his compassionate care towards yourself. What rest and nourishment does your body, mind and soul need today?

John 21:1-11 (NLT)

Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.

3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture?

Journal about it. Where do you sense that emotion in your body? What does that emotion tell you about your need or hope?

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

print pdf

What Do You Know For Sure?

Sometimes we are gifted with an encounter with God which changes everything, including the trajectory of our lives. We know that we know that we have met with God - the Father, Jesus the Son, or the Holy Spirit. Sometimes these encounters happen when we least expect them, such as with this man born blind since birth. Sometimes we encounter God because we seek, ask or wait for one. Regardless of why we encounter the living God, God says, "you can know me" (Ps. 46:10) and "you can find me" (Jer. 29:14). As you pray with this passage concerning the testimony of the blind man, the Spirit may remind you of your own personal knowing of Jesus. No one can take that knowing away from you.

John 9:24-34 (NLT)
 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”
25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
26 “But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”
27 “Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
28 Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! 29 We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”
30 “Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. 32 Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”
34 “You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Is there anything regarding God which you know that you know? Some truth anchored deeply within you? Take some time to remember and cherish it.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

How Am I Known?

Our individual and communal stories always hold the possibility for a divine reset. How we see ourselves, one another and God opens us up to the wonder of possibility. Just what might God do?
Perhaps we all need the mud washed out of our eyes to receive and extend mercy and compassion - to see and be seen and become known for who we truly are.

John 9:1-12 NLT

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. 5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
8 His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!”
But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”
10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”
11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”
12 “Where is he now?” they asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied.

John 9:1-12 TMG
1-2 Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”
3-5 Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”
6-7 He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man’s eyes, and said, “Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “Sent”). The man went and washed—and saw.
8 Soon the town was buzzing. His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, “Why, isn’t this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?”
9 Others said, “It’s him all right!”
But others objected, “It’s not the same man at all. It just looks like him.”
He said, “It’s me, the very one.”
10 They said, “How did your eyes get opened?”
11 “A man named Jesus made a paste and rubbed it on my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ I did what he said. When I washed, I saw.”
12 “So where is he?”
“I don’t know.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which “shimmered” for you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Using all of your senses, place yourself in the story. Who are you and what are you witnessing or experiencing? Write out the story in your own words, allowing the story and conversation to be your prayer.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Training In Discernment

It is midway through the Feast of Tabernacles. The boy who stayed after the Feast of Passover amazing them with his understanding in the temple at age 12 is back as an adult providing foundational instruction in discernment. They marvel because there has been no formal training in the interim. At this Feast to celebrate God dwelling with them in the wilderness they fail to see God dwelling with them in the person of Jesus.
How can we be aware of God and know His will? This passage provides numerous guideposts in discerning God's will. It begins with our desire to want only the will of God. Listen slowly. Wait unit you really hear the heart of Jesus in his words, demeanor and intention.

John 7:14-24 NLT
Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. 15 The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?”a they asked.
16 So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. 17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. 18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. 19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.”
20 The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?”
21 Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. 22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) 23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? 24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”
a from the Greek word gramma meaning: a letter, writing, letters of sacred learning

For Reflection and Prayer:
What caught your attention-a word, a phrase, an image or emotion-as you listened to the text? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

Was there a particular feeling you experienced as you listened to the conversation? Bring that feeling into your prayer. How do you need Jesus to meet you in that feeling?

At the “remembrance of God dwelling with them in the wilderness” Jesus is teaching on discernment. Prayerfully reflect on your own discernment – where have you noticed God’s presence with you or God’s word to you?

Be still and savor any consoling words or pictures in your prayer.

The One Who Keeps Seeking Us Out

Lingering a little longer in the healing by the pool story, we witness Jesus seeking out the healed man a second time. This time it is in the temple. Imagine that, God seeking us out in our places of worship, in our moments of inhabiting the Sabbath stop.

Jesus speaks some curious words to the man found in the temple. At first hearing, the words might sound jarring or abrupt. Notice how you hear these words each time. What do you notice? What are you feeling? You are invited to make room to stop and listen. The One who seeks us out, might have something more to say.

John 5:9-15 (NLT)
Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!”
11 But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’”
12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.
13 The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. 14 But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” 15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Where have you noticed Jesus inviting you or giving you permission to stop and share sacred time with him?

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Being Seen and Known

Scholars conjecture that this healing encounter with Jesus happened in conjunction with the Passover celebration. We can only imagine the smells permeating the areas surrounding the Sheep Gate. How many sheep might have trudged that path? And where was hope among those sick - the blind, lame and paralyzed - lying beside the "pool of mercy"? This encounter might turn our tidy theology of healing upside down. Does healing always depend on desire and faith?

Place yourself in the story - inhabit this passage of scripture. Allow Jesus, the God-man to see you. Become present to his gaze...

John 5:1-9 NLT
Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. 2 Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. 3 Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. 5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?”
7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.”
8 Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath,

For Reflection and Prayer:
What caught your attention as you listened to the text? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

Was there a particular feeling you experienced as you listened to the story? Bring that feeling into your prayer. How do you need Jesus to meet you in that feeling?

Be still and savor any consoling words or pictures in your prayer.

 

Hope for Restoration

These words from Isaiah evoke a longing in us for restoration - to be back again in the garden with God as all was created and intended to be. This is the place where our soul longs to dwell and make its home with God. God has placed this hope in our hearts for what is to come and enables us to live in this hope right now, regardless of our circumstance.

As a new year is upon us, what are you hoping for? Who and what are you placing your hope in? And what hope for restoration has the Holy Spirit placed within you? May the Lord strengthen your hands and encourage you to stand so that you may walk upright in this hope placed within you.

Isaiah 35 (NLT)
Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
    The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
2 Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
    as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God.
3 With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
    and encourage those who have weak knees.
4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”
5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
    and unplug the ears of the deaf.
6 The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.
7 The parched ground will become a pool,
 and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.
8 And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
    It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
    It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.
9 Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it.
10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
    They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

What longing rose up in your heart as you listened? How do you feel this holy longing in your body? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

Our Exodus Story

As we continue to pray with the Psalms through Lent, this one is of particular significance. It is the hymn of the Exodus, traditionally sung or spoken before the Passover meal of remembrance. Psalm 114 invites us to remember our own Exodus story, those places where God saw our oppression, came to our rescue and delivered us to a place of sanctuary. Perhaps this story is still unfolding in your life. Take courage and ask God for what you need. Our Deliverer is surely coming.

Psalm 114 NLT
When the Israelites escaped from Egypt—
    when the family of Jacob left that foreign land—
2 the land of Judah became God’s sanctuary,
    and Israel became his kingdom.
3 The Red Sea saw them coming and hurried out of their way!
    The water of the Jordan River turned away.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
    the hills like lambs!
5 What’s wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way?
    What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away?
6 Why, mountains, did you skip like rams?
    Why, hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
    at the presence of the God of Jacob.
8 He turned the rock into a pool of water;
    yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.

vs. 8 references: Exodus 17:6, Numbers 20:11

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word, a phrase, image, or feeling affected you as you listened to the text? How did it affect you? Bring this into your prayer with Jesus.

Remember and reflect on your own Exodus experience. Take time to journal and record your story as a remembrance. What did God do for you? What oppressive place and ruler did God deliver you from? Where did God bring you to a place of sanctuary?

How does this Exodus still affect you today? How is God teaching you to draw forth water from the rock? From rocky places? Where or how does God lead you to springs of living water for each day?

How do you like to celebrate your Exodus?

Sounds of Freedom

Again this Christmas, we celebrated the coming of Jesus and we remember again the purpose of his coming: to restore us back to God. In this Psalm, we are given a front row seat to hear the voices of a people who are freed from captivity and brought back home to God. Let us find our own voice within this crowd and join the cry for freedom.

Psalm 126 (AMP)
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion (Jerusalem),
We were like those who dream [it seemed so unreal].

Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
 
The Lord has done great things for us;
We are glad!
Restore our [b]captivity, O Lord,
As the stream-beds in the South (the Negev) [are restored by torrents of rain].
 
They who sow in tears shall reap with joyful singing.
 
He who goes back and forth weeping, carrying his bag of seed [for planting],
Will indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Footnotes:
Psalm 126:4 I.e. the remaining exiles.

For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, a phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus. Journal what Jesus says in response to you.

How have you experienced being restored from captivity?  Reflect on your experience; either your lifetime or this past year. Bring your reflections before God in prayer.

Perhaps your longings reveal a desire for new freedom. Ask God to give you courage to listen and discern what they may be revealing. Ask God to meet you in your longings.

Does a spontaneous response arise within you to God? To sing or dance or make music or write or any kind of art form? What ways of expression of worship flow from your marvelous design?

Liberation Comes

Isaiah reminds us poignantly that the "tidings of comfort and joy" proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds includes the promise of physical and spiritual liberation. This promise of freedom extends to all people: the poor, the brokenhearted, the captive prisoner, and the mourner.

Can we possibly imagine and join with Jesus in the liberation of our own hearts and those of our families, our neighborhoods, our cities?

Come, Lord Jesus. Come. Revive us again.

Isaiah 61:1-4. 8-9NLT
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me,
    for the LORD has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the LORD’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
    repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
    though they have been deserted for many generations.
8 “For I, the LORD, love justice.
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be recognized
    and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
    the LORD has blessed.”

For Prayer and Reflection:
What phrase or word shimmered as you listened to or read the text? Bring it into prayer with Jesus.

Reflect on your experience of liberation described in the text. Is there something you want to say to Jesus? Journal your conversation.

What rebuilding projects have you seen God do in your life or would like to see?