I finished the dishes from lunch, wiped down the table, scratched off a foreign substance from a chair and had a glorious thought, “I feel well enough to organize my spice cabinet.” Organizing is never a curse or punishment to me. There’s some sort of warped satisfaction I get by putting things in alphabetical, numerical, or categorical order. I happen to believe that once it’s finished, life becomes ever-so-slightly more efficient. Joy is always a side effect.
A few seconds after switching the coriander jar with the cilantro, I felt the fiery sting of pain in my right hip and a familiar ache crawl up my back, neck and down through my arms. I immediately responded in my thoughts, “No! You are NOT going to stop me again.”
Do you remember how the Bible personifies wisdom in the Book of Proverbs? Well, for some reason, I decided to personify pain today. Proverbs 1 says that wisdom cries out in the streets, city squares, high places and is willing to help simple people grow in their knowledge and understanding of life. But pain? If pain were a person…what kind of personality would it have?
I guess a lot depends on your own experience with pain, but in my life, it is like an obnoxious, unruly child. It constantly interrupts me regardless of what I am doing, who I am with, or the time of day (or night). I can be in the middle of worship, the middle of a conversation, or in the middle of sleep, and it will selfishly demand my attention by yelling, screaming, or increasing its force until I cannot deny, ignore or sleep through it. It never asks permission to interrupt my day and rarely gives forewarning so I know how to plan. Pain seems to be most debilitating when I am with my child. Probably because of the disappointment that floods my heart when I can’t perform all that I want in her childlike world of wonder. Pain is nearly hyper in its relentless pursuit to steal joy, crush hope, and spread discouragement all over limitations. It likes to paint the future with dark colors and play videos with tragic endings. One of the biggest personality traits of pain, is its insidious attempts to attack the character of God with a treasure-trove of lies and twisted truths.
I put the Venison seasoning with the steak and chicken rub at the back of the shelf and looked for my medication bottle. I had my years in the past when “pain killers” came in many different forms and I embraced them all; from chemical to relational, but now I hate medicine. “Highs” bring me low. Then the Lord spoke to my heart, “Pain is not your enemy. It was Mine. Pain’s power lies in your heart’s response.”
Amy Carmichael wrote a poem about the attempts the human soul tries to make in regards to pain, suffering and sorrow. It’s her last line that often comes to remembrance; “in acceptance lieth peace.” Pain can drive me away from God as I kick against it, or it can drive me to the feet of God, where my tears find His comfort. Pain can make me mad as it intrudes into my schedule and stops me from doing what I want, or it can be the vehicle to drive me to His promises of His strength to replace my weakness, His healing to replace my pain, or His grace to submit to the interruption and trust Him for the outcome. When my child sees my suffering and her little face reflects fear and concern, I can listen to pain’s lies about God’s unfairness, or I can pray and trust that my Father is molding her character and knows what she needs to be exposed to for her future.
At some point, pain crossed an invisible line and went from being an unwanted curse to an accepted gift from the Lord. It has become a special professor with life lessons that no other instructor could give. Each facet of pain, for the child of God, has a special invitation attached; “the fellowship of His sufferings. (Phil.3:10)” Sometimes, in the darkest hours of the night, when I cannot sleep through the pain, I sense the Lord’s Presence right with me and I am comforted. But most of the time, I only hurt and sense the throbs, aches, stabs, and discomfort. And it is in those times, that I am certain part of my pain is caused by the Lord holding me so tight. He has taught me to trust Him and to look at the cross if I forget how much my life means to Him. I often forget.
So tell that unruly child called “Pain” to sit still and be quiet. Pain is never allowed to come to our doorstep unless the Lord has great riches of Himself that He wants to give to us. “In acceptance lies peace.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 is a scripture I have often asked the Lord to read and explain to my heart. I’m still listening…
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
If you’d like to read some good books to help you deal with suffering and pain, I highly recommend these below. But there are many that have gone before us…