Today, I marvel at the place on which my feet are standing, my spiritual feet, so to speak. Around 15 years ago, I started a journey of crying out to God for physical healing in my life. I didn’t have a life-threatening disease, nor was I completely debilitated. Still, a chronic illness had settled into my system, and has had a dramatic effect on my quality of life and kingdom empowerment since.
In those early years, I was prayed over, anointed with oil, and ministered to by so many, on so many occasions! But instead of granting supernatural healing in those moments of ministry, God began to speak to my heart and reveal his heart for my healing. He made known to me that this issue was more about a spiritual bondage than a physical infirmity, and it was the spiritual bondage, the root issue, he intended to heal. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but it was like in Matthew 9:5 when Jesus spoke to the Pharisees after healing a paralytic:
For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Matthew 9:5-6)
Jesus looked at my physical weakness and saw my soul. He saw the whole me. He saw the full state of depravity I was in. So instead of saying, “Sure, let’s do a quick fix. Let me take away your pain so you’ll go on living never knowing what true freedom feels like. Sure, I’ll heal this symptom even though I know another will instantly rise in its place…” Jesus looked on me with those compassionate eyes that carry deep understanding and an immeasurable expanse of Love, and said: “Your sins are forgiven.”
Jesus wants to heal, cleanse, and fully restore our souls from all its depravity, set our feet on a firm foundation of unshakable truth, that we might “know [him], believe [him], and understand that [He is God]” (Isaiah 43:10). Healing in Jesus is a whole-person perspective.
Still, as much as Jesus was standing there speaking over me, “Your sins are forgiven,” his compassionate eyes of deep understanding also saw that I was not capable of perceiving the depth of depravity at work in my soul. Like the Israelites at the edge of the Jordan River, I stood as his child still wearing my slavery instead of my “Sonship” (“daughter-ship”??)… My mind was sick and I could not quite gather the perspective needed to face all of “the giants” in my land (Numbers 13:33). I had not yet learned a bold confidence in my risen Savior and conquering King. So like the Israelites, my heart decided, “[I am] not able to go up against the [enemy], for they are stronger than [I am]” (Number 13:31).
When healing is put on hold.
I continued to seek the Lord year after year, praying for deliverance but never finding it… Longing for freedom, though it eluded me time and again. So I just kept going. Kept living. So many other things happened, so many other issues were brought to the forefront of my life. Meanwhile, at the base of my soul, this stealthy, sneaky, oppressive monster continued to devour my strength, deplete my energy, and drain my positivity. I remember years ago saying, “I feel like everywhere I go, I’m standing over this black whole that is sucking all of my life and vitality into it’s wide open mouth at every given moment.” Other times, it felt like a black, tar-like goop that would sneak up from behind, and expand, climbing up my legs until it began wrapping itself around my body, squeezing me to the point of great, unceasing pressure.
It was a spiritual bondage, and I think generational [meaning passed down from previous generations]. It was very elusive and hard for me to recognize or pinpoint, almost invisible from the outside, so that I could not find it or face it head-on… Still, it seemed to pervade every area of my life with pain.
For 15 years or more, I wondered, will it ever happen? Will this ever go away? Will I ever be healed? free? Will I ever taste the honey that flows from a Promised Land, sweet to the lips and pure to the tongue?
In the Waiting…
In Psalm 40:1, David writes, “I waited patiently for the Lord…” The two words “waited” and “patiently” are the same word in the original Hebrew, qavah. It’s as though the Psalmist was saying, “I waited and kept waiting... for the Lord” – “I waited and waited and waited” (the MSG), “I waited a long time...” (The VOICE), “I did not give up waiting for the Lord” (NLV).
Qavah is a beautiful word in the Hebrew language! Here is a brief look at some of the enlightening nuances:
David is weak and weary in whatever oppression he is facing, but he gathers his strength and binds himself to the hope of deliverance found in Christ and Christ alone. He braids himself in to the divine rope that stretches down from the heavenlies, reaching into our deepest darkness, tying us fast to our heavenly home, the land of promise we’ve been waiting for.
As you Qavah qavah [wait patiently], God is training you to lift up your head and cling to the One who offers Life everlasting. He is strengthening your faith as you bind yourself to him, as he has bound himself to you, weaving your person throughout his person, becoming a cord unbreakable, and drawing you into his wondrous Self that is high above all we know and experience in this fallen, natural world in which we are born.
Qavah “connotes expectation and at the same time suggests tension.”*
God wants us to wait expectantly, with anticipation, in trust that He is faithful and will do it. But as we wait for him, tension arises within us because our soul “is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground” (Psalm 44:25).
Naturally, each one of us, born to this natural, dusty world, is stubbornly convinced that our comfort, our satisfaction, our joy, our source of life itself, is here in the dry specks of the earth’s platform. We long for freedom, yet we run to the wilderness! We forget that these specks we eagerly pine after are in truth, particles of ash, decay, and waste, covering a world that is broken in sin and condemned to die.
As you qavah qavah, your God is training your soul to let go of the fixations we hold to, those things we long for more than Christ, convinced that it is there that we will taste our satisfaction (Hosea 2:5-8). God is teaching the soul to beat with a genuine longing for him and him alone, because he is the only true place where wholeness can be found.
Qavah has this nuance of gathering up together. Interestingly, the word qavah, is the same word used in Gen 1:9, when God said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together [qavah] unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.”
Dear friend, imagine miles and miles of water stretched out before you on all sides. And then the waters begin to move, waves begin to pile on top of each other, as the waters are gathered up in the mighty hands of God, coming together as one big mighty substance…
When I think about this, I can’t help but picture the separating of the Red Sea, wondering too what it was like for Moses and the Israelites to stand at the edge of the waters “all night” long (Exodus 14:21), watching the water shift and sway, moving to the rhythm of the wind as they gathered and separated, making a way where there had been no way.
Imagine if this is what God is doing in our times of qavah. Imagine the depth and breadth of your soul, so much expanse that it is capable of holding the fullness of Almighty God! Imagine your soul spread out, broken in separation, segregated, disconnected by great boulders of high reaching damns…
In qavah qavah, God is slowly but surely gathering up your whole heart, the vast expanse of your soul, for a meeting with Himself.
The Beauty in the Waiting
Would God have been more merciful if he had alleviated my pain and healed my chronic illness those 15-ish years ago? God absolutely can and does heal instantly, as a miraculous expression of his power and love! But sometimes, it can be more merciful and loving for God to allow pain and discomfort to do their work of revealing the more debilitating stronghold underneath.
God allowed me to walk my wilderness journey not because of meanness or evil judgment, apathy or harsh retribution. He tells us in Hosea 2 that he sends his bride into the wilderness to speak tenderly to her, to woo her to himself. And there, he will break every bondage and draw her to himself that she might “know the Lord” (2:20) and be found in him.
My Promised Land
After years of qavah qavah, I am standing at the edge of my Promised Land. My soul has been broken down and built back up on a “firm foundation” (2 Timothy 2:19). I have twisted and bound myself to my Saviour in the fellowship of his sufferings. My soul has been cleansed through the emptiness of barren deserts, and my eyes have become fixated on the one true Light in the darkness of life’s valleys. I have no doubt that many more troubles will come! But at least now I know this: the child of God lives his life here on earth by waiting patiently on the Lord, and no matter how long we qavah, our God will never disappoint.
Here I stand, with head held high, as the giants in my land shrink down and disperse because I know who I am and I know whom I have believed (2 Timothy 1:12), and His banner over me of love (Song of Solomon 2:4)!
In the waiting and waiting again, I am made unshakable.