If you ask me, discernment is just about THE hardest thing to achieve as a follower of Christ. Life is hard. Life is messy and often times, we are left with more questions than answers. And when we try to listen for those answers, it’s easy to not be able to hear His voice in the chaos. We just plain miss it some times and other times, we need to tune our radio to be able to receive His transmission. But how do we know what to set our dials to?
Webster’s Dictionary defines discernment as showing insight and understanding. Insight. Understanding. But what if that insight is terrifying? What if God is showing you a path of pain, chronic illness, and suffering? My dear friend, take heart – there is another very important part to it that we often overlook. For years, all I saw was the insight part of discernment and it kept me in such fear and affliction. God had even whispered to my heart that I would not be healed BUT He was trying to use me in this path I was so slowly trudging. That’s a hard pill to swallow – I will not be healed… It took me 6 years to realize that I needed to gain the understanding of my storm. Discernment isn’t just seeing into our struggles, it’s asking the Lord to help us understand His ways. And the best way to gain that perspective is to know His character to better understand the ways of His heart. By knowing Him, we are able to make out his voice.
Every night that our children are away from us, they call to tell us about their adventures that day. Sometimes they are excited and sometimes they are sad to be away from us – you just never know until you get the call. And there is never any guarantee of who will get to talk first, so the first few minutes I spend listening. I listen hard. I have to if I want to be able to tell which one of my children is on the line. It doesn’t take me long, however, to figure it out. See, I know their voices so well because I know them so well. I spend time with them everyday and I understand their precious hearts. So, if I don’t spend time with my Father, how will I know HIS voice? We don’t recognize voices of those we don’t spend time with. Would you recognize someone’s voice if you only stopped to listen to them once a year? Probably not. It takes listening to someone on a regular basis to be able to pick out their tone. Sometimes we listen and only hear silence, but we have to keep listening, because how will we hear anyone if we have our hearing aids turned off? God wants us to hear Him. He wants us to understand our trials and He wants us to trust in the fact that He is in control, not us.
In Courtney Cohen’s book entitled “Chronic Healing”, she reveals Paul’s purpose of understanding his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). She writes, “Paul’s thorn was a messenger from Satan, sent to harass him. It was not sent by God. However, it was allowed by God so that Paul could learn greater trust in God’s grace and power. Paul invited God to work out good in the midst of a difficult circumstance.” I often wonder what Paul’s “thorn” was – we do know that it was painful and it was debilitating. Many of us have our own “thorns”, and even though it may be hard to swallow, notice that it is being allowed by God for our own growth in Him. But, did you see that Paul invited God to work out that good? He grasped that by inviting Him to work out good in his painful circumstances, he was able to gain the understanding of his trials.
After insight has been revealed and understanding of our situations made clear, our praying hearts must decide that His will is superior to our feeble desires. “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be” (1 Kings 3:11-12). God is promising a wise and discerning heart to those who seek His face and HIS ways. And He is so trustworthy and His promises always remain true.
I no longer pray for my own desires of this weak body to be healed. I do, however, pray for discernment and to hear His voice and HIS direction in my every day trials. Sweet Jesus, don’t let this storm go in vain. Turn my pain to empathy for those suffering. Turn my weakness into placing Your strength on my shoulders. Turn tears into lifted eyes to see Your everlasting glory. Tune my ears to hear your station all day and all night. Reveal to me Your insight and understanding when situations overwhelm me. And turn unmet expectations into letting YOUR will be done.
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6)
If you have not read Chronic Healing by Courtney Cohen, I urge you to read it! What a great way to work through the stages of healing not only your body, but finding hope in healing your soul. It’s a beautiful read and I know you would thoroughly enjoy it.