This Pain…

How can I not compare this,

to the thorn embedded underneath

providing a sharp reminder

of that which You ordained

Paul to keep

 

How I long for a dramatic

power of healing

instant pain relief

that incredible feeling

 

And of course

You’d receive all the glory!

Until I resume my routine again

And Your healing becomes

lost in the noise

 

Would I then remember —

When I could not walk

When I could not sleep

When my despair

was dark and deep?

 

I think of the man with leprosy

Who simply asked Jesus

“Lord, if you are willing”

“You can make me clean.”

Jesus was willing.

 

But what is clean?   What is healing?

It is far better, to be cleansed within

To have a spotless soul

Even if the body never fully heals again

 

A/N:  I continue to pray for physical healing, consistent with the will of God.   But the state of my soul is paramount. 

The Lost Art of Being Patient

The desire for the instantaneous, or even pre-fabricated  satisfaction, has tainted our society to expect, nay demand the unattainable.   What has been lost is the art of being patient.

Even though it’s called “fast food.” it’s really not that fast.  At least not by the standards of many in the drive through lane.  Imagine this scenario; you have probably witnessed it.  Many times.

  • A customer speedily enters the parking lot of his or her chosen brand of fast food. Despite encountering a long line of cars winding back from the drive through order board, they take their place in line because its “more convenient.”
  • As the line seems to move slower than Christmas for a 7 year old, the customer begins a process of huffing and puffing, followed by fits of rage when the car in front does not immediately move up when the other cars move.  Ranting and cursing may ensue.
  • When finally reaching the spot to place an order, the customer is fit to be tied when the employee fails to hear the order properly.  When reaching the pay window, the employee is regarded with contempt.  The last straw occurs when the customer is asked to wait a few more minutes in the drive through parking space.  Oh the humanity!

You get the idea.  More, now.  Better, but not any slower, now.  We have become a society of convenience on its own terms, and they aren’t up for negotiation.  And, when disappointing results occur, well, that’s license for a tantrum or conniption fit.  And of course, we are implanting these traits in succeeding generations. Especially if they see us as parents and grandparents acting this way.

And of course, now comes the rub.

The reason that I am writing this is precisely because I have been the person yelling at the slow car that won’t get out of the passing lane and is holding me up.  Or been abrupt and unfriendly to people working in fast food that receive 99 comments about how awful and slow things were, and not one thank you or word of encouragement.  Now, of course there are people who are poorly trained or who just don’t care about doing a good job.  I’m not minimizing that.  But I also know how far a word of encouragement can go in lifting people’s spirits.  We ought to be more intentional about that.

And it starts with that lost art of being patient.  Paul had a lot to say about that in the New Testament:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.  [Philippians 4:11-13]

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  [1 Tim 6:6]

Yes, I need to be reminded of this.  At times, we all do.  If you read my last post, you know that I am dealing with pain that just doesn’t seem to want to go away.  My wife has lovingly reminded me of times when I have been short, impatient, and downright cantankerous.  Mostly because I have forgotten the lost art of being patient.

God wants us to wait.  Not to be mean, but to help us grow into people that are kind, encouraging, understanding, compassionate, and who are able to lift another’s spirits because we have been in that valley before.  Of course I want instant pain relief; but that’s just not God’s timetable.  And Father knows best.  Perhaps, one day, I can encourage someone else dealing with pain.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.  [Gal 6:2-3]

How about this?  I will pray for your patience, and you pray for mine.  It’s a practice worth developing.

 

Poem:  Test of Patience

People who seemingly cannot drive

But on the highways seem to thrive

…and multiply

Forgive my thoughts and epithets

Take them home with care

and still my mind

cool my jets

that I might love

those who drive me insane

The Purpose of Pain

One could easily say that the past month of my life would fit in the category of “thrown for a loop, and then run over back and forth by said loop.”

For 50+ years, I prided myself on my general good health.  And this from an infancy where I was sickly, had to drink soy milk, and began to see an ophthalmologist at age two.  But for most of my adult life, I had little if any health problems, never saw a family physician [I did ask my father – who was the epitome of the rural general practitioner – general health questions], and praised God for my good health [except when I was running from Him, nee Jonah].  I had a record of never spending the night in a hospital, that I intended to keep.

As I got to age fifty, I celebrated a half a century on earth with continued good health.  I did have one issue that was not bothering me too bad, but finally underwent surgery to correct it last year.  But I convinced the surgeon to send me home same day, thus keeping my record intact!

And then there was the latter half of August, 2016.  The pain in my right leg went from nagging to intolerable.  It would be later diagnosed as a bulging disc in my back doing a number on the sciatic nerve that runs down the leg.  I was unable to walk.  To get to the car, my wife and my brother-in-law had to support me as I took one baby step [or dragging of the leg] at a time.  Then a whirlwind week of ER visits [yes, multiple – a story for another time], painful MRIs, and finally referral to a Neurosurgeon who fixed the disc.  But my record came to an end with an overnight hospital stay.  Oh well – age…

God was working through this entire ordeal and has been exceedingly good to me; I truly am forever grateful.  I can walk!  Hallelujah!

And that would be the end of the story, but for…

Pain.  Despite a successful surgery that has allowed me to walk again, I have a lingering neuropathy on my foot.  The surgeon was hopeful that this would go away on its own, but that has not been the case.  I have asked God to take away this nagging, sometimes burning, sometimes shooting pain.  My foot is ultra-sensitive.  Medication prescribed has little effect.  Sleep is difficult.  Wearing a shoe is extra painful.

I am hopeful that as I return to see the surgeon this week that some other course of therapy – medication or otherwise might be helpful.  And my prayers are still that God would heal as he did for the leprous man in Matthew 8:2-3

Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared

But God may have a greater purpose for my pain.  I am steadied in my resolve, that if God does not heal me and this pain continues to beset me – He is still holy, glorified, and sovereign.  He is still worthy to be praised!

The Bible tells us that God’s power is made perfect in our weaknesses.  Paul certainly knew this with his “thorn in the flesh.”

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
[2 Cor 12:9-10]

Is this easy?  Not at all.  But I am confident in God’s plan for my pain.  Whether He takes this nagging thing away is irrelevant.  His plan, His purpose, His Word; my obedience, taking up my cross [light as it is], and becoming more Christ-like are the issues.  Thy will be done.

Amen.