Thief in The Night

By Femi Aribisala

Our God is a God of miracles. But sometimes He chooses to heal. Miracles are instantaneous: but healing is a process. Miracles are clinical, but healing is relational.

With healing, we get to know the Doctor. We experience His loving-kindness. We realize He is a comforter. We then know we have a High Priest who is deeply touched by the feeling of our infirmities. When we are afflicted, the Lord is afflicted as well. He bears our griefs and carries our sorrows.

If we understand that the purpose of life is to know God, then whatever it takes to know Him must be acceptable to us. If we accept that our final preferred destination is the salvation of our souls, then however God chooses to attain this in His wisdom must be acceptable to us.

Way of tribulation

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6). That way is the way of tribulation and affliction. It is through the fire and through the water that God brings us out to His place of abundance. (Psalm 66:12).

Jesus does not promise us a rose garden in this world. Instead, He prepares us for affliction. He says: “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Be of good cheer because He has shown us how to overcome tribulation. 

The psalmist concurs: “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!” (Psalm 34:19-20).

The believer must live in two worlds simultaneously. The one is physical: the other spiritual. The one is in Christ: the other in the world. The one is within and the other is without. The one is in the kingdom: the other is in the world. The one is peaceful: the other is full of turmoil.

Therefore, although the Messiah is the “Prince of Peace,” His peace cannot be the peace of the world. Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27).

The Good Thief

Jesus identifies himself as someone who catches unawares the unrighteous in their wickedness. He says: “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” (Revelation 16:15).

But there is another way by which Jesus comes as a thief.  When he does, he surprises not the unrighteous but the righteous. Jesus comes as a thief to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness in order to take away our iniquities by stealth. 

Jesus is the thief who steals our bad habits, addictions, and sicknesses.  He robs us of them in the dead of night without our being aware of it.  We just wake up one morning to find we do not have the strength to be quarrelsome anymore. 

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Or we discover out of the blue that we have lost our passion for pre-marital sex.  Or the Lord himself asks us about our chronic asthmatic condition and, suddenly, we realise to our pleasant surprise that it has been months since we had any attacks.  

As usual, Jesus, the thief in the night, had stolen it away. 

Wrestling with God

As a young believer, I woke up one morning to discover a lump at the centre of my ribcage.  I panicked and quickly went to see a doctor.  He gave me a whole set of multi-coloured tablets and informed me he would have to do a culture test to determine precisely what was inside the lump. 

I went home and started taking the tablets.  Then I changed my mind and foolishly threw them all away.  I reminded myself that Jesus had revealed himself to me as the Great Physician when he healed me miraculously of bullet wounds.  If he healed me then, he would heal me now, I reasoned dogmatically.  So, I went to the Lord in prayer and asked Him to heal me.

Despite my prayers, the lump in my chest grew even bigger and it became uncomfortable.  Whenever I touched it, it was painful.  I prayed and prayed, and nothing happened.  Then one Sunday morning, I decided to wrestle with God. 

Immediately I woke up, I “confronted” the Holy Spirit: “I will not let you go today unless you heal me.” 

Jesus says the kingdom of God suffers violence, so I decided to take my healing by force (Matthew 11:12).  I told the Lord: “I know you are a healer, so I am telling you now.  I am going to church this morning and I am not coming back without being healed of this lump in my chest.  I just want you to understand that.”

Balm of Gilead

When I arrived in church, the first thing I did was to go down on my knees and talk again to the Lord: “Father, I am here by appointment to receive my healing.” I sat down in expectation, convinced something had to give. When the praise-worship started, I entered into it with alacrity, clapping and singing to the Lord with all my strength.

Suddenly the praise-worship leader, Valentine Obi (now CEO of eTransact), stopped the choir mid-stream. He said: “There is somebody here who is looking to the Lord for healing. The Lord says he is going to heal you today.”

I could not believe my ears. Can you imagine it? My case had become so important to the Lord He stopped the praise-worship of an entire church, just to give me a personal message.  I felt very special. 

When the praise continued, I became even more intense.  Suddenly, Valentine stopped the choir a second time.  This time he said: “The Lord said if you are the person who is believing God for your healing this morning, come out so I can pray for you.”

I dashed to the altar and was surprised to find two other people there.  “What are they doing here?” I thought; convinced I was the only person the Lord could be referring to. And so, Valentine prayed. 

After the prayer, I checked the lump in my chest. It was still there, and it was still painful. But it no longer mattered. What mattered to me was that the Lord had responded to my insistence that he should heal me in that service. That response was more than enough.

Several days later, the Lord asked me one of those puzzling questions. “Femi,” he said, “what happened to the lump in your chest?” 

I did not understand what He meant by the question, so I decided to take a look at it.  When I opened my shirt, I could not find the lump there anymore. You may well ask what happened to it. The truth is I have absolutely no idea. But one thing I know now, Jesus came like a thief in the dead of night and stealthily took it away.

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