On this Labor Day in the United States, I was reflecting on labor. I am thankful that my health has improved so much from when a few weeks and months ago, I could hardly labor at all. I am thanking God for healing when doctors and medications could not work. I have labored in seeking help in any way I could, with doctors, medications, alternative healing techniques and trying all kinds of remedies, while my health worsened over the last few years, worse than it had been for a long time, being told a few years ago my doctor did not think I would survive a simple infection that should have cleared up in a month.
More than 25 years ago I was diagnosed with a chronic illness coming from childhood trauma to my brain and neurological system which had deteriorated the various systems in my body. I am told there is no cure since it came from brain damage and that part of the brain is inoperable. I was told I would eventually be in a wheel chair for life. My primary care physician said she was so sorry because although I would want to die, the condition would not kill me, especially if I sought emergency care when having seizures which could come unexpectedly at any time, shutting down various neurological signals that keep me breathing, standing, my heart beating, my body moving and fighting off toxins and disease that normal neurological and immune systems do naturally, automatically.
I turned to spirituality and labored to find tools and techniques to ease pain, alleviate symptoms and developed prayer practices to get closer to God, the Great Physician and Healer. I had some successes along the way but ultimately disabling symptoms would return and got worse the last few years, no matter what I labored to do. Medical expenses had emptied all my savings and retirement funds and put me in tremendous debt I could not manage month to month without moving balances around to new credit cards and cutting all unnecessary expenses. Just when I thought I would lose my home heavily mortgaged, avenues of funding and free resources would appear, including free plumbing and roof repair. I had exhausted all the avenues open to me. But I continued to labor to keep alive, even though I really wanted to die. One by one people left my life, a life that moved increasingly to being homebound and immobile. My solitude and isolation increased. But I continued to labor on to find a purpose for still being alive. I studied a lot about healing. I learned more about what it means to follow Christ. It was not about labor or doing things to be good, to labor at spiritual practices and devotions, or even long periods of prayer. But it did mean learning about God and what we have in Christ. It did mean slowly but increasingly submitting my life to God in Christ by cooperating with the Holy Spirit.
The rest of the story will be revealed over time, perhaps in a book. The bottom line is I learned that life and healing, whatever you might define as happiness, success, prosperity and fulfillment, do not just come from labor, planning, research, determination and faith. Abundant life and prosperity are offered as gifts through what God offers out of His love for all people. It comes from what Jesus Christ has done to give us this gift of grace, eternal life and salvation, which defined in the Greek original word, SOZO, means prosperity in all areas of our lives, now and eternally. It is received as a gift, not by Laboring to earn it or manifest it in our own strength, intelligence or devices. Just like money deposited in our bank account, we just have to make withdrawals. We have to prove our identity as defined in Christ by faith, which is not even anything we work to have. It is a gift and a mystery, a marvelous mystery that only manifests when we turn it all over and come to the giver of the gift through the avenue the giver chooses, Jesus Christ, following him as a disciple, and then the road becomes narrow but ultimately easier and surer than any other road we might choose on our own or by following the advice of others.
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened by labors that provide no peace, and I will give you rest refreshing your souls with salvation. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me following Me as My disciple, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest, renewal, and blessed quiet for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear and My burden is light.”