Forgiveness can heal both the mind and the body, says Dr Strydom. Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash.

Michelle Strydom has been trained as a surgeon for over a decade but there will always be one tear-stained surgery that she will never forget.

She was on duty that day when a wounded male patient arrived. Everyone sprang into action but there was much difficulty in transferring the patient, a big and burly man, onto the hospital’s stretchers.

Dr Strydom decided to give it a go and found herself being able to do it as her strength and stature matched those of the patient’s.

“I realised I was made the way I am for a purpose,” said Dr Strydom. She would not have been able to lift the patient if she had been the petite-sized woman that she had always longed to be.

Surgeon Dr Michelle Strydom spoke of the integral relationship between healing and sanctification at a conference in Singapore.

The subsequent surgery she performed was marked by tears and thanksgiving as she expressed her gratitude to God for responding to her unanswered prayers.

Speaking at the Healing and Sanctification conference held in Singapore on November 13 to 16, the South Africa-trained Zimbabwean doctor told the audience that she had questioned her body shape. She had wanted to be like her petite-sized mother.

But this single incident sealed all doubts in her mind and allowed her to fully embrace God’s assurance that she is “fearfully and wonderfully made” by Him.

Growing trees of thoughts

Dr Strydom was driving home the point on watching one’s thought life as the devil and flesh will relentlessly assail us with negative thoughts.  

Dwelling on these thoughts long-term will lead to “poisonous trees of thoughts” that will cause illness and other strongholds such as addictions and sins.

“Make your thoughts life-giving and not life-threatening”

“You cannot defeat Goliath with your mouth shut,” she added and reminded the audience to test every thought and hold them against God’s word.

Dr Strydom herself had been through her fair share of “mind battles” – starting from a young age when the devil kept planting in her mind that she was an “ugly monster”. These lies followed her into adulthood.

“Looking back at the pictures, I was actually quite a cute and adorable child,” she mused with a laugh.

It soon dawned upon her that these voices were not from God and she resolved to get rid of this poisonous self-image by looking at the mirror each day and speaking God’s words of love and assurance out loud.

Change will not come overnight, said Dr Strydom, but it will come. She went from speaking out against the thoughts once every few minutes to once every few hours and thereafter once every month and later once every few years.

“Think about what you have been thinking about,” she said. “Make your thoughts life-giving and not life-threatening.”

“I was actually quite a cute and adorable child,” Dr Strydom said with amusement. But “mind battles” during her youth convinced her that she was an “ugly monster”.

She gave three practical tips to sanctify and renew one’s mind:

First, she recommends the need for a “thinking time” every day. This means recognising the thoughts plaguing one’s mind and meditating on verses to counter those thoughts.

Second, she urges the need to take negative thoughts captive for the rest of the day. Noting that our five senses will inadvertently inhale our surroundings, there is a need to stay alert on the origin of the unwanted thoughts and replace them with God’s Word constantly.

Third, faith confessions are invaluable weapons. This includes reciting God’s Word and praying aloud against any thoughts and fears that grip us.

Father’s love

She also urged the audience to reflect on their relationship with their earthly father.

Asking the 500-strong crowd to raise their hand if they have not experienced love and praise from their earthly father, hundreds of hands shot up almost immediately.

Dr Strydom noted this was the case in other conferences she spoke at around the world.

An often-tenuous relationship with our earthly father will subconsciously mirror how we respond to God. “It’s like a cracked mirror reflecting a distorted image of God the Father,” she added.

Dr Strydom with her family in Zimbabwe. “What type of memories are you building?” she asked the audience.

Dr Strydom pointed out that a breakdown in relationship with God the Father is the primary cause for all other fragmented ties – including a frail relationship with self and others.

“If you did not receive the Father’s love, you cannot love yourself and this results in a relationship breakdown with others too,” she said.

She called on the audience to consciously forgive their earthly father and repent of any bitterness built up over the years. This will lead to a renewal in relationship with God and subsequently with self.

Missing link in healing

In particular, Dr Strydom cautioned that in Singapore, where success is highly-prized, there might be a tendency to fall into vicious performance traps which allow no room for weaknesses. When one does not measure up, self-condemnation results.

“(But) He loves you for who you are and not what you do,” she posited. “When God sees you, He doesn’t see your weaknesses and shortcomings. Like a judge, He takes a hammer, slams it down and says, ‘Qualified. Accepted. Approved. No further appeal.'”

In a similar vein, she emphasised the importance of forgiving others who might have crossed us and to repent of any hatred we have stored up in our hearts.

Dr Strydom prompted the audience to respond instead with the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – whenever there is an impulse to retaliate.

Whenever there is an impulse to retaliate, respond instead with the fruit of the spirit.

“Against such things there is no law,” she proclaimed, citing Galatians 5.

She reiterated that “forgiveness” and “repentance” are the twin cornerstones undergirding all her teachings.

“Forgiveness is a big missing link in healing,” stressed Dr Strydom, who noted that this could be healing for both the mind and body.

Living a lifestyle of repentance is also the key to unlocking the darkness in our hearts for God’s love to come in, she added.

But ultimately, God has given each and every one of us a free will and it is up to each individual to carry out that act of forgiveness and repentance.

“The battlefield of your mind is at your free-will,” she said.

“What type of memories are you building?”

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

About the author

Ng Jing Yng

Ng Jing Yng was a former journalist with MediaCorp's Today newspaper. She has written on a wide range of topics ranging from politics to labour, but writing about education and social issues remains her chief interest.