My parents surprised me recently with a beautiful gift. They had not only bought a large version of my very favorite painting, Christ Healing at the Pool of Bethesda, by Carl Bloch, but my dad had handmade a beautiful frame for it. I was touched beyond anything I can begin to write. They felt bad, because they had bought it some time ago, but had not yet given it to me. But, as I have known so many times, nothing is coincidental. I needed it now.

The picture is a beautiful and touching scene of Christ’s compassion, which is one reason that it is my favorite painting. I often feel Christ’s compassion for me when I look at it. But another reason that it is my favorite is that it reminds me of my greatest foe: my natural self. Depicted in the painting is a man in a red cap, and he is actually the center point of the scene.

No one likes him when they seem him in this painting…he is disquieting. Why? Because part of him is inside of each of us. Lately, I have felt him resurfacing in my own life. Not only resurfacing…I feel that I have become him again. He is so close to the Savior, yet he holds onto himself and his pain, rather than turning to the Master. I have been fasting and praying for help these past days. I am so grateful for all that I have learned again, and though much of it is too personal to relate here, some of what I have learned again I want to write here, so that I may come to it again.

Except for his red cap, he is bereft of worldly possessions. His ragged robe is too large for his emaciated body, as if to suggest that he as once more robust. Now he is weaker, thinner, more tired. His wounded leg is but a manifestation of a wounded spirit as he looks distrustful, even resentful…The tight grip the man holds around his legs suggests a spirit not fully ready to submit. It appears that he still wants to control and even protect his injury rather than turn it over to the Savior.

The red cap on his head my be a proud remnant of a former life and accomplishments, even a signal to others that he was once a person of station…

No one gets through life without needing help and healing. We pray and hope and continue to believe that “earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal…”

The man in the red cap, though half-hearted and wary, is not a lost soul. He may still be bound by some anger, but he does turn toward healing. Maybe dashed hopes and previous disillusionments have made him more cautious, distrustful, even reluctant to fully embrace the light he now begins to sense. Perhaps arrogance has gotten the best of him: the pride that led him to his spiritually wounded condition, the pride that keeps him from being healed

Pain preceeds healing…

We cannot be healed until we let go of personal pride and come unto the Savior. We have to be willing to submit to the Master Healer. No matter the loneliness, sorrow, difficulty, or distress, we can find rest to our souls, but only if we submit our will and sincerely offer, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Sometimes we cling so tightly to the vestiges of our independence, like the man in Bloch’s painting…that we prevent our own healing. The trials that should humble us instead merely make us ashamed of our dependence, and, ironically, less willing to submit to healing. Pride exacerbates our spiritual injuries and perceived grievances, and none of us is entirely immune from its infection…

Humility invites healing. Humility is recognizing that we are dependent upon God’s grace and that we not only can but must ask for divine help….If we can hold on to the humility we feel in the midst of a trial, we can find healing, growth, and newness of life…

Once we recognize our pride and begin the lifelong effort to overcome it, we realize that we cannot heal ourselves. We need God’s help…

The more we submit and consecrate, the more our trials and suffering are “swallowed up in the joy of Christ.”
– Excerpt from The Healer’s Art, by Lloyd D. Newell and Don H. Staheli

It reminds me of something President Eyring once said: “Pride creates a noise within us, that makes the quiet whisperings of the Spirit hard to hear.”

I love what C.S. Lewis said:

Once you call [Christ] in, He will give you the full treatment. That is why He warned people to ‘count the cost’ before becoming Christians. ‘Make no mistake,’ He says, ‘if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you…, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect–until My Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with Me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.’

I find myself this year in a constant battle of choice. More than ever before in my life, my trials are hinged on choices. I could choose to submit myself, or not. But choosing to submit this year has always meant choosing to endure a very painful trial. The most interesting challenge is that I am constantly given the option to not submit, and thus, not endure the trial. But who do I want to be like? The man in the red cap, or the man who is made whole by the Savior?

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