I was talking yesterday with a friend who just returned from Uganda. She spent several weeks with a neighborhood ministry that had requested inner healing prayer. As she shared about the desperate situation and the hunger in the people’s hearts, she also lamented that she seldom finds that kind of hunger here at home.
We considered what it means to be desperate for God and why that often seems more prevalent outside the United States. Then we talked about the desperate situations all around us here at home. Perhaps there are two aspects of “desperate.” One involves situations. The other concerns attitudes of our hearts.
Despite the disparity of wealth among nations, people’s lives can be in despair no matter where they live. Here in the United States, I know plenty of people in desperate need of God. But they don’t recognize it the way people in some other places do. Why not?
A scene from a movie comes to mind. The doctor in Beyond Borders is operating on a dying woman in Ethiopia during a time of famine. He explains that people thank him with their whole hearts there, whereas back in London, they don’t thank doctors as deeply. In the Ethiopian camp where he is serving, there are no pain killers, so the people feel everything. They appreciate help on a gut-wrenching level.
He asks the visiting American, “What do you do when you have a cold?”
She suggests several common remedies.
He says, “Do you ever just have the cold?”
The answer is no. When we have the means, we doctor ourselves up, doing whatever it takes not to feel the cold, the pain, the discomfort.
And that is the difference between desperate situations and desperate hearts.
Here in the United States, we have many ways to mask our pain. We numb ourselves, seek self-comfort, hide in false refuges, drown things out with our noise and busyness, deny our realities, and sweep truth under the rug.
We can only become desperate for God when we realize how desperate our situations are. The more we hide, numb, self-comfort, and deny, the less we will recognize our deep need for God.
In fact, as another friend pointed out, our ability to numb ourselves is what makes our situation desperate. We have become really good at blocking God from the places in our hearts that hurt the most.
How do we change?
It has to start with each one of us, individually, and then as families, and then as church families.
We have to be real with what’s going on in our hearts. We have to let God bring things to the surface so He can deal with them. We need to acknowledge the pain, feel it, and embrace it. To recognize that we have nothing without God. Then we need to invite Him into those difficult places in our hearts, so He can bring true healing.
We also must be willing to hold each other accountable to this – and to let ourselves be accountable to others as a family, and as a body of Christ.
What do you think? Wouldn’t this be a good day to start?
Will you join me in this prayer?
Lord Jesus, thank You that You came to set us free from the ways we have become held captive in lies, denial, and our ability to sidestep our own pain. Forgive us for the ways we cover up, numb ourselves, and whitewash the realities of our lives. Search our hearts and show us where our deepest hurts and fears are hidden. Bring Your light, truth, and healing to every area of our hearts. We want to be completely in relationship with You, with our whole hearts. Help us, God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“’The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;'”
— Isaiah 61:1 (NKJV)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
— Psalm 139:23-24 (NKJV)