When There Is Pain

Pain squareTheir giggles should have brought me joy but this morning I desperately needed silence.  Pain has wrapped me up.  Out of nowhere all my symptoms are back.  Such is life with chronic illness.  I asked my babies to “please stop” and play a quiet game instead. Their sweet blue eyes welled up with tears. Now my heart hurts just as much as my body does.

It is so deeply frustrating.  Because there is literally nothing I can do to change this.

Dear friends, I know, you’ve probably heard of something that might help me.  Perhaps a remedy, a diet, an exercise, a positive attitude, a lifestyle.  I honestly do appreciate all the wonderful supportive suggestions my dear ones have given me.  It is a blessing to be in such a caring community.  Do know that my doctor has me trying all kinds of things.  We are not just sitting idly.  I so hope for a cure.  For me and the thousands of others in this battle.  And I know that it’s frustrating for you too.  That I am still sick.  Even though we’ve prayed over and over asking God for healing.  And even though we’ve done a year of expensive treatments.  And I know that it is difficult to be around someone who is sick.  It is a downer.  It is a burden.  Our mirror neurons stir us up to find a remedy.  Oh my friends, I know.  I wish there was an answer.  I wish we could fix this.  I wish I could have my life back.  And I have not given up hope.  I am leaning on God’s promises and healing Love.

But, today the pain is still here.  And today, as I wrestle over this still, I am forced to look at my desires.  To ask myself some difficult questions.  Why do I think I am entitled to a better life?  Why do I so desperately want to escape this pain?  Why am I so upset by this ongoing sickness?  Why so disconcerted?  Why so mad and sad?

And so my thoughts and conversation with God went like this today…

1. Our natural human desire is to avoid pain.  We seek a “good” life of comfort and health.  And when pain hits us or the ones we love, we want answers.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Yahweh is clear in His Word that He is the Source of Life and healing and wholeness.  Praise God!  Yet, the Bible shows us that God allows pain.  And that He even uses it as a tool in our lives.  And, as scary as it is, we are perfected through it. (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-4)

2. My spiritual desire is to embrace a certain kind of pain.  I seek to live a life of sacrifice and hardship in His Name.  I hope to stand strong against the sufferings that come as a daughter of God (Romans 8:17-18).  But I have a certain expectation about what those hardships will look like.  I expect them to come from certain sources and in certain times.  I do not expect them to come in the form of the fog and pain of chronic illness.  Surely sickness is not the suffering we are called to!?  Yet, so many of my Bible heroes of Faith had illness.  And I see now: I have demeaned my health struggle.  I have considered it a distraction from my Faith.  I have not considered it to be a legitimate part of God’s plan for my life.  I have squirmed and hated it.  I have considered it to be something to be rid of and not something to be embraced.  PLEASE know that I am not saying that illness is something to be embraced and held on to.  Obviously healing is God’s plan.  I am just saying that I have had contempt for this sickness.  I have not viewed it as being in submission to God’s sovereignty at all.  I have not considered it to be the “suffering with Christ” kind of suffering.

3. Those waiting for the Messiah were expecting a powerful king who would free them from the political oppression of the time.  They were expecting a conqueror. A mighty warrior.  The expected Him to look a certain way.  They did not expect Him to be a suffering shepherd.  They did not expect Him to walk a life, and death, like the least of the least.  And they missed Him.  They killed Him and walked away to keep looking for the Messiah of their expectations.  Then they missed Him conquering death.  They missed seeing Him move as their mighty warrior.

Today I am wrestling with my own desires.  I want to be free of this pain because I don’t see God in it.  I am willing to suffer for Him but I want it to be in a more glorious way.  Because I have believed that suffering for Him is about doing something to actively glorify Him.  To add value to His Kingdom.  But today I am being reminded that suffering is just like everything else in my life:  to walk with Him, to know Him and to allow myself to be known by Him.  It’s always about relationship with Him.  Everything is about that.

I’m sitting in this pain today with a freshly stirred perspective.  I certainly don’t have a fully developed doctrine on the role of suffering in Faith, but I do have a renewed outlook on the role of this particular suffering in my personal Faith.  This pain in my life is God’s business.  He is King of even this.  And I am praying for this balance of Faith:  To hold on to the promise of healing AND to embrace the suffering I am in.  Both.  At the same time.  Only achievable through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Praying for James 1:2 to be made true in the deepest parts of my heart:

Consider it all joy… when you encounter various trials (James 1:2 NAS)

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RUTH: The suffering of Naomi
Lake Samm Church
December 9, 2012

As part of our series in Ruth, Justine Morris takes us on a journey of laughter and tears as she leads us to consider the life of Naomi.  Is God limited by our lives?  Or could it be that He is orchestrating and weaving our lives together in powerful ways?

What do you think?