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Book of Healing
Daily Appointments with God for Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional Wholeness
By REGGIE ANDERSON, JENNIFER SCHUCHMANN
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2016 Reggie Anderson
All rights reserved.
January is a month when new life can seem distant and unreachable. The days are short, and the sky is often gray. In many parts of the country, the weather isn't conducive to going outside, and when we look out the window, we see a barren landscape and naked trees.
As winter takes hold, the excitement we felt during the holidays is gone, and we're left with nothing but the bills. Along with family and friends, we have resumed the daily grind, and spring cannot come soon enough.
During these often gloomy days, I think of a seed buried in the dark, cold, and lonely ground and how necessary the winter season is in the cycle of life. You see, that seed needs the time underground in order for the plant inside to burst through its shell and sprout new life. We won't see evidence of the growth until spring, but the seed is already in the process of transforming into a blossoming flower.
January can feel a bit like the Saturday after Jesus' death on the cross. It seems as if all hope is lost. But take heart; just as Sunday came and Jesus was resurrected, so too, spring is coming and everything will feel fresh and new.
During this first month of the year, learn the lesson of the seed, and concentrate on your interior life. Make a special effort to set aside time each morning or evening to pray. Pick a new topic each week — finances, relationships, health, family, friends, or whatever you think will most affect your year — and concentrate on praying about that topic for seven days. During your prayer time, take time to listen to what God is telling you. Align your goals with his. Just as a seed prepares to send out green shoots of new life during this cold, dark month, you can prepare for new growth in your spiritual life.
In addition to preparing your heart for renewal, take this time of hibernation to rest and relax from the busy holidays so you will have the strength to blossom in a few short weeks. Make your New Year's resolution something that will not only improve your health, but will also improve your wellness.
January Booster Shot: Depression is one of the most common maladies healthcare providers see during the winter. It's often referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you find yourself feeling sad, sluggish, depressed, or tearful, get as much sunlight as possible. If the symptoms persist, seek medical advice.
January 1 PROVERBS 4:20-22
THE BEST TIME TO START IS NOW
My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don't lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Proverbs 4:20-22
Do you remember the last time you visited a doctor or a counselor? After discussing your ailments, the practitioner likely gave you a set of instructions to help you feel better.
When you left the office, you were committed to implement the recommended plan. But maybe that's as far as it went. Maybe life got in the way, and before you knew it, the doctor's advice had been shuffled to the bottom of your to-do list. A week later, you had forgotten you even had a plan. The advice that had once seemed important enough to consult with and pay a professional for had somehow slipped away.
The all-too-common pattern of wanting answers to our problems but never implementing them can also happen with God's Word. We go to him looking for wisdom and guidance, but even when we receive his instructions, we file them away for a day when applying them seems more convenient. But the right time never seems to come. We all have good intentions, but we're lacking on the follow- through. We keep putting off until later what we should do right now. When we procrastinate, it often means we never get around to what is important.
If we really want the life and healing that God promises, we can't let his wise words slip away. If we lose sight of God's wisdom, it's worse than if we had never received it. We need to abide in God's Word, allow it to penetrate our hearts deeply, and put into action the things we've heard God say. Write down what God has said, and place reminders where you won't lose sight of them. That is how they will penetrate deeply into your heart.
Has God asked you to forgive someone? Call that person now. Has God asked you to give something? Give it now. Has God asked you to show love to someone? Love that person now.
* * *
Lord, thank you for giving me wisdom and counsel through your Word. Help me to draw from it daily, impressing your instructions upon my heart and applying your words to the problems I face.
JAMES 5:14 January 2
THE POWER OF PRAYER
Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. James 5:14
We've all had times when we've been sick. Whether we had a minor cold or something more serious, we learned how miserable we can feel when we're under the weather. With proper care and rest, we typically recover fairly quickly, and even those with chronic or debilitating illnesses would say they have good days along with the bad. But there's one thing that is always true: When we're sick, we want to feel better.
In today's key verse, James describes the importance of praying for healing when we're sick. Many Christian churches have a formal time for these kinds of prayers. Other churches may be less structured and more spontaneous as needs arise, but they are nonetheless committed to this practice. Having people pray for us when we're sick helps us to feel better. It's a sign that people love us when they will intercede with the Great Physician for our well-being. But prayers don't only help us to feel better; they can also help us get better.
In medical literature, there is scientific evidence that patients who have people surrounding them with love and prayer generally fare better than those who don't. Patients who have been prayed for recover faster, report less pain, require less medication, and have fewer complications.
As a doctor, I've been at the bedside of many patients when elders from their church have come to pray for their healing. And I've personally seen many patients with severe illnesses recover and return home to their families and continue living fruitful lives.
I've also been at the bedside of many patients when prayers for healing were not answered as hoped, and we had to trust God for his higher purposes. But even when those illnesses ended in death, the process of praying brought emotional healing and comfort to those who were present. It's as if we were able to catch a glimpse of the patient's soul completely healed on the other side of heaven's veil.
Whatever kind of healing you need — spiritual, emotional, or physical — ask others to join you in prayer today for your healing.
* * *
God, thank you for the comfort of bringing my requests to you and knowing that you hear me and love me. Where I am weary, please bring healing and strength, and help me to fully trust in you.
January 3 PSALM 71:5-6
TURNING BACK TO SEE WHO IS THERE
Lord, you alone are my hope. I've trusted you, O Lord, from childhood. Yes, you have been with me from birth; from my mother's womb you have cared for me. No wonder I am always praising you! Psalm 71:5-6
I grew up in a churchgoing family in Plantersville, Alabama. From the day I was born, any time the church doors were open, my family was there. But even as a young child, I knew that I didn't have to go to a special building to be with God. I felt his presence each time I lay on my back in the lush, green grass and watched the puffy marshmallow clouds float by in the silky blue sky.
When I was four and a half, my favorite cartoon show advertised a contest to win a free pony. One night, I dreamed that God wanted me to have that pony, so I talked to my mom, and she helped me mail the entry. A few days later, I found out I had won! Because God had given me this gift, I promised that I would share that pony with all the children who came to visit.
And as I grew older, the coral colors of the sunset and the twinkling stars in the heavens were all the proof I needed that God was real and always with me.
But when I was in high school, my beliefs changed when some close friends of mine and members of their family were brutally murdered in a senseless massacre. It was hard for me to believe that the God of twinkling stars and marshmallow clouds could allow this to happen. So I turned my back on the God of my childhood and ran as far as I could from him.
Professing to be an atheist, I searched for answers about life but only found more questions. When I finally wore myself out, I turned back and surrendered to the God I'd left behind in Plantersville — only to find that he'd been running alongside me all along, even when I didn't care to admit that he existed. He was patiently waiting for me to run back into his arms. Because of his unwavering faithfulness, I will praise him all the remaining days of my life.
If you are running from God, stop and turn back. He has always cared for you — and he always will.
* * *
Father, I confess I turn my back on you all too often, doubting your goodness in my life. Thank you for always chasing after me and welcoming me with open arms.
ACTS 10:38 January 4
Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38
As a third-year resident in family medicine, I had the opportunity to serve as the medical director of a mental health hospital in Jackson, Tennessee. The duties, for the most part, were routine. It was my job to make sure that the patients were medically healthy. If we had to admit someone, it was typically because his or her outpatient treatment plan had failed.
Larry was an exception. He was sent to the hospital by a court order because he thought he was possessed by Satan. An unusually large man with a massive forehead, Larry had had periodic outbursts toward his family, and the police had been called to his house on several occasions for domestic violence.
As I examined him, he seemed to look right through me — peering off into a world that the rest of us couldn't see. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but his medical history was unusual. His symptoms had appeared much later in life than was typical for schizophrenia. Larry also suffered from migraines, and there was something unusual about the size of his hands and feet.
When his lab work came back, I could see that he had diabetes mellitus and renal failure. There were now more questions in his chart than answers. I spoke with the psychiatrist who was treating Larry's mental illness and requested a CT scan of Larry's head. When the results came back, we were able to see for the first time what was going on. It turned out that Larry had a pituitary tumor that was causing acromegaly — a hormonal disease that causes growth hormones to be released long after the body should have stopped growing. This explained the unusual size of his face, feet, and hands. They had continued to grow well into adulthood.
We began treatment on the tumor immediately, and within three weeks, his "schizophrenia" symptoms improved. God had removed "the devil" that had tormented this man for so many years.
Regardless of your affliction, whether spiritual or physical, God wants to heal you. Sometimes he uses a pastor, and other times he uses a physician.
* * *
God, only you can see my innermost parts. Please detect in me where I need healing, both in body and spirit. I give myself to you.
January 5 JEREMIAH 1:11-12
GOD WANTS YOU TO BLOSSOM
The Lord said to me, "Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?" And I replied, "I see a branch from an almond tree." And the Lord said, "That's right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans." Jeremiah 1:11-12
After the holidays, the long, dark days of winter can begin to take a toll on our moods. Many doctors and counselors find that their patients are in a funk during this time of year. But for some people, it could be even worse. They could be suffering from depression. Twenty percent of the world's population will struggle with depression at some point in their lives. In fact, it's so common that it's often referred to as the "common cold" of mental illness.
The brain chemistry involved in depression is both simple and mysteriously complex. Three main chemical engines — serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine — make us feel happy and hopeful. God designed these neurotransmitters to work in concert to help us maintain a hopeful outlook. But when one or more of the systems isn't working properly, depression can set in.
I have counseled many patients with depression. Often they mention, "No one cares whether I live or die." If this statement resonates with you, reread today's verse, which contains a promise from God that he is watching over you and actively involved in your life.
Almond trees are native to the Mediterranean climate and are known for being one of the first plants to blossom. The white and pale pink flowers sometimes bloom as early as January or February. Because of their early blossoming, almond trees are mentioned several times in the Bible — often as a symbol of God's vigilance and faithfulness.
Do you ever wonder whether God is looking out for you or if he even cares what happens in your life? Wonder no more. The almond tree is a reminder that God wants you to blossom under his care. You are not alone in the battle. God wants you to enjoy the world he has created, and he wants you to hope for even better things to come — in the next world, our forever home.
Depression often happens when we focus on the past. Focus on the future, and God's promises will help to brighten your day.
* * *
Jesus, I ask that you breathe life into this dreary season — that you lift my head and help me focus on you. Thank you for never leaving me in the dark and always sending me reminders of your faithfulness and love.
EXODUS 4:7 January 6
"Now put your hand back into your cloak," the Lord said. So Moses put his hand back in, and when he took it out again, it was as healthy as the rest of his body. Exodus 4:7
In today's verse, God reveals his power over sickness and health. If we witnessed today what God did for Moses, we'd certainly call it a miracle.
I believe that miracles still happen. Just because we use medical science to treat people doesn't mean that God is any less involved or that the cure is any less miraculous — like the night when medical science saved a woman's life early in my career.
On a slow evening in the ER, I was relaxing in the doctor's lounge when I received an urgent summons. Before I could even get to the exam room, I heard a woman named Allison pleading for help.
"I'm itching all over. My skin feels like it's on fire! Please help me!"
Allison was in anaphylactic shock, on the verge of total collapse and cardiac arrest. This was a true life-and-death emergency.
I followed the standard protocol: putting her on 100 percent oxygen and starting an IV of epinephrine, Benadryl, and steroids.
"I can barely breathe," she said in a panic. She looked terrified. "Are you sure this will work? I feel like I'm about to pass out."
"Your blood pressure is low, and your heart rate is pretty high. That's why you're feeling this way," I said. "Give the medication a few minutes to kick in, and you'll start feeling better."
Soon her shortness of breath began to subside. I saw the fear in her eyes abate as her blood pressure and heart rate returned to normal. It turned out she'd had an allergic reaction to shellfish. If she had gotten to the ER five minutes later, she probably would have been in full cardiac arrest.
Though we used modern medicine to treat her, I have no doubt that it was God who saved Allison's life. The efficacy of the drugs is really no less miraculous than when God healed Moses of leprosy by telling him to put his hand inside his cloak.
God knows the dangers we face, and it's a miracle of his grace that we can be saved through modern medicine.
Don't overlook or dismiss everyday miracles just because they don't happen the same way they did in the Bible.
* * *
Lord, your power is beyond my imagination. Help me to recognize your hand at work throughout my day. I praise you for how intimately you know my needs.
January 7 PHILIPPIANS 44:6-7
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Over the years, I've had more than one person ask me, "Dr. Anderson, why are you so cheerful all the time? I always see you with the sickest of patients, yet you never get sick. You're surrounded by people who are dying, and yet you always seem happy. What's your secret?"
My secret is contained in today's verses.
Excerpted from Book of Healing by REGGIE ANDERSON, JENNIFER SCHUCHMANN. Copyright © 2016 Reggie Anderson. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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