Healed | Isaiah 53:5

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The co-existence of chronic illness or handicap and Christianity is a tension many circles of faith don’t believe belongs. Well-intentioned healing ministries have sprouted up left and right over the last few decades, desperate to work alongside God in bringing healing of heart, mind, and body to His people in the here and now.

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve seen Jesus miraculously heal the physical ailments of some and the psychological ailments of others. I’ve watched Him extend lives that were told they would never see certain milestones come to pass – Myself included. I’ve been the recipient of His grace and healing mercies numerous times while hospitalized for Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening lung disease I was born with, even bouncing back from full-on respiratory failure in December of 2022.

But without fail, I have witnessed strong and faithful followers of the Way, the Truth, and the Life succumb to the physical law of death within our broken world. And though my severity of suffering indeed ebbs and flows with seasons and circumstances, I have yet to see my DNA fully healed. I’ll be the first to admit also I don’t understand why.

In Isaiah 53, we find one of the most beautiful and well-known promises in all of Scripture: By His wounds we are healed. (53:5) Many grasp this declaration as a guarantee of physical completeness this side of Glory, and as a result, I have been told more times than I can count that my living with CF is a direct result of a lack of real faith. That CF is demonic, an entity on my bloodline that needs deliverance, and because I still battle it, I must secretly want it there. That with every fervent request for healing that I or others utter, we slap Christ in the face and tell Him what He’s already done isn’t enough. And the darkest night He has brought me out of to date: That my lack of victory over CF brings my salvation, and my belonging to Him altogether, into question.

For a while, I believed these things to be true, and I lived under the shame and constant pressure of trying to muster up “enough” faith to be made well on my own… Until one precious morning, when I awoke heavy-hearted once again over what had become an all-too-familiar instance of being prayed over to “just believe” that by His wounds, I was healthy. His tender mercy of holy curiosity led me to pick up my study tools and search out Isaiah 53:5 for myself. And what I found freed me:

“To pardon; ‘There was healing to us,’ i.e. ‘God pardoned us.’” (Strong’s H7495: Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon)

The more I studied, the more I understood this to be the preeminent promise echoed throughout the pages of Scripture. Passages like Exodus 15:26, James 5:16, and so many others testify to ultimate healing that transcends temporary and brings hope no matter our physical circumstances. And I also understood that when we extract circumstantial healing as the whole of it, we rob it of its true power and magnificence, and leave those suffering in confusion and despair.

But make no mistake – This tweak in comprehension doesn’t take away from the promise. It deepens it, enriches it, and solidifies it, from this life to the next.

Now, gaining ever-increasing levels of passion and gratitude for just how perfectly enough He is is the wholeness I aspire to. In the past, I’ve responded by either playing possum until the moment of confrontation passed, or by exploding in defense of my faith. Now, I recognize true freedom is rooted in surrender. In recognizing He is God and I am not. In searching for the plethora of beauty, even amidst the ashes. And in knowing my identity, faith, joy, and peace have zero connection to my body not having gotten the memo that it’s out of sync with ultimate reality right now. An ultimately reality I can picture in my heart and feel in my bones. An ultimate reality that, because of my Jesus’ wounds, I find great hope in looking forward to living out for eternity.

Within this design bears my choice to publicly stand up for not only myself, but believers everywhere who question their place in the Kingdom because of a misunderstood narrative. One that tells us that because we often find our lives under the heavy hand of affliction, we’re less mature and less favored and altogether doing the “faith thing” wrong.

May this help someone breathe again. May this help someone believe again. May this make prayers for not only our physical suffering to cease allowable, but prayers for the “even if” as well. And may it assure someone that our bodies can be broken until the moment we meet Him in Glory, yet we can still be healed in all of the ways that matter most.

Shalom

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    Chayil | Proverbs 31

    Chayil. (Khah’yil.)

    The first time I heard this beautiful Hebrew word in April of 2014, something about it resonated deep within me. As a baby conceived with Cystic Fibrosis – a life-threatening genetic illness that pegged my life expectancy at around 8 years old – I was, quite literally, born a fighter. However, CF was only the first of many fires awaiting me in this lifetime, and as a result, I spent the better part of ten years self-destructing in every way imaginable, determined that if I was going to die young, I was going to have a heck of a time doing it.

    So when I was introduced to the marrow of chayil while deep in the trenches of my rock bottom… And I learned the black and white of it to be “excellence” and “valor”… My shame and unbelief found it easy to shrug off.

    What I failed to understand then was that chayil isn’t something we muster up on our own. It knows no separation from, and is entirely dependent upon, our relationship with our Abba. And in time, we learn that to be a woman of chayil is to be a woman of innately-driven excellence. Strength. Beauty. And honor.

    It is quiet courage and confidence that knows it doesn’t have to roar to make a difference, or shove its way into the spotlight to be heralded.

    It is borne in the hard and holy and hidden places of our hearts. Places that are steeped in the value of being before doing, and that understand why Jesus promised that Mary held the better portion.

    It is fully recognizing that we hold both the sword and its victory in our hands, yet still kneeling before Him and asking Him how to wield it.

    It is a war cry, a desperate reminder of who and whose we are when the fight in front of us feels too big… Because most of the time, it is. And we should never be ashamed to admit we don’t have what it takes without Him.

    It’s bold. It’s counter-cultural. It’s often mistaken for weakness, and almost always viewed as insane.

    But that’s OK. So was our Jesus.

    The essence of chayil is most often depicted as a fierce warrior woman. If I’m honest, that’s what I had in mind myself when I sat down to render this image. But as it began to come more and more alive, I realized He was driving home the heart of where our excellence, courage, and strength truly come from: Our union with Him.

    Daughter of God, if this all seems intimidating to you, take heart, because you were made for this. The walk of a godly woman isn’t easy… It goes against every societal norm we’re taught, it draws mockers and critics, it costs us close friendships, and it consistently forces us to shed our comfort zones and step into the unknown, where tensions can be high but our Greatest Prize is higher. And by His grace, we come to realize we have nothing to fear. Because we’ve been bought with a price and adopted into His army to overcome lies with Truth, fear with faith, hatred with hospitality, and bitter with forgive. We weren’t made to give the world a piece of our minds, but a piece of His heart. And we were created to help heal, and leave this world that we’re in, but not of, in better shape than we found it.

    Expect difficulties. Expect attacks. Expect setbacks, to be sure.

    But more importantly, expect victory. Expect freedom. And expect to know the love and companionship of the God of the universe… Who is somehow also our personal Lord and Savior… Who is somehow also our Father who bends low to hear His children cry… So deeply that we shine His radiance from the inside out.

    It will feel impossible at times, but that’s why He made us warriors.

    That’s why He made us women of chayil.

    © Farrel DeBaltzo | January 3, 2023

    Love > Fear

    There are two diametrically opposed choices we’re faced with every day, multiple times a day, as human beings: Life and Death.

    They are driven by two diametrically opposed forces: Love and Fear.

    And of them are borne two diametrically opposed realities: Light and Darkness.

    They can not co-exist. We live from one or the other.

    The Greek word for “casts out” here is “ballō”, and it does not convey fear as a worthy adversary that love gently tells to bugger off. It is much more fierce, painting fear out to be worthless and a waste of time and energy. Other Scripture where this context is used is Matthew 5, when Jesus says salt that has lost its saltiness has no other fate than to tread underfoot and be thrown out; Matthew 13 when it describes fishermen sifting through their catch and throwing away the foul ones; and John 15 when Jesus invites His followers to abide in Him continuously, warning that those who refuse to will be like branches that wither and are thrown into the fire — Not as a threat, but a very real picture of what happens when we choose to cut ourselves off from Life Himself.

    Fear appears daunting to us, but it doesn’t have to be. And notice it doesn’t say “authority” casts out fear, but “perfect love”. When we fix our eyes on the beauty of all Jesus is, all He has done, and all the love that drove Him to do so, there is no other logical result than for fear to disintegrate before our very hearts and eyes. He always does the heavy lifting.

    There are certainly times in our human frailty when we will stumble. But at the end of the day, and the end of all days, the core of our beliefs and allegiance belongs to one or the other.

    May we all who bear His name today choose Love, choose Light, and choose LIFE ♥♥♥

    © Farrel DeBaltzo | April 4, 2024

    Home

    I grew up right outside of Lindale, Texas in blink-and-you-miss-it Garden Valley. When Dad had to leave, Mom and I relocated to a rent house her father owned in Tyler, where I spent years 10 through 20.

    At age 21, I hightailed it as fast as I could out of East Texas and to Dallas, then across the country to Washington State, then back to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, then across the country in the other direction to Florida, before finally ending up back in Tyler in 2017 — A place I swore to my love, my friends, my family, and even my God I would never, ever, under any circumstances return to.

    I imagine that gave Him a pretty good chuckle, considering He knew what sovereign plan He had in store for me. In His perfect grace, He let me run for a long time — 13 years, to be exact — because only He knew exactly when I would be ready to tackle my past, piece by piece, and heal from it.

    And now… Just about the time I’d finally gotten used to being back in Tyler… Here Zack and I are, plunked back down in Lindale, in a home where our route in and out of civilization takes us directly through downtown. Past the old post office I reference in Love You More Than Life: A Memoir. The post office where I used to go with Dad every couple of days to check his business box. The post office that, if I had words for it, I could still describe exactly how it smelled inside. Past the brick corner store, now a guitar and gun shop, that once housed Rexall Drugs and filled my Cystic Fibrosis prescriptions as a baby. Past First Baptist Church, where I was dedicated as a newborn. Past all of the places and memories and emotions still sailor-knot-tied to a ranch and a home where another family lives and whose kiddos now play.

    There is no such thing as coincidence.

    Especially when it comes to redemption.

    Coming home — really, truly coming home in every sense of the word — is both comforting and uncomfortable. Familiar in the best and the worst ways. Messy. Confrontational. And, in the end, utterly freeing.

    Because nothing, nowhere, and No One knows you like home ♥

    © Farrel DeBaltzo | February 19, 2024