Monday, January 23, 2017

My "Unwanted" Friend

The word Pain, especially as it refers to physical pain, is often thrown into the "four letter" word pile. It's ugly, unwanted, and not allowed in proper conversations! And yet it is so real and everyone's companion in life sooner or later. Quite often we fight against it applying every known medical intervention to soften it's effect on our lives. Intermittent pain has been my faithful "friend" since entering my retirement years, but recently it's twin: constant pain has come to call. Constant meaning every step I take skyrockets from a 1 on the pain scale to an 8 or 9, depending on the time of day. Currently I am in Physical Therapy hoping for some relief. But while on this journey I have begun to ask God the question: "Why, God, did you create pain?" I am trying to see it from the perspective that it is a gift not a curse. So how far have I come on this quest for an answer?

He has shown me a number of reasons it has value.

1. As I experience pain I am reminded of others suffering that I can lift up to God in prayer. As I take my eyes off of self and look outward He flashes faces into my mind that need prayer and encouragement. So I send cards, give them a call, or whisper their name before the throne.

2. Pain draws me, like a vacuum, to the scriptures. As I "suck' in God's Word it soothes me. David and his Psalms are a wonderful source of comfort. It's there I claim His promises!

3. Pain tells me to slow down and allow God to work HIs miracles of healing. 

4. I'm learning it is OK to cry out to God-be human-listen for His voice. Let pain be the vehicle that carries me to the feet of Jesus, giving over my independent, "have it my way" spirit, surrendering instead to the creator. Let Him in the driver's seat even when the road is bumpy and the direction He is driving unknown!

5. My reaction to pain allows me to model the spirit of Jesus to the heavenly bodies! In reading "The Scars That Have Shaped Me" by Vaneetha Rendall Risner I read this idea that we are "ever on display". She says, "The angels and demons are constantly watching to see how we treasure God." She goes on to say, "It became strangely comforting when I realized I was not alone in my suffering. That there was a greater purpose to my being faithful than I could see." Wow, what a new concept for me! In her words," God's glory is on display for the Angels and Demons when people demonstrate that their hearts are satisfied in God alone rather than in his gifts. When we declare that God is more precious than our health, our happiness, even our very lives, we highlight his supreme worth to an immense, invisible audience." Ephesians 3:10 says, "through the church, (of which I am a member) the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 says," You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model..." 

It is about time I am leaning through pain that life is not about me but it is about being a model of Christ and about giving God glory even while walking with my "unwanted friend". So when your "unwanted friend" knocks on your door and pushes her way into your living room, invite her to have a seat, offer her a cup of tea, and learn from her visit!