Learning Through the Pain
December 29, 2014
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
I’ve been dealing with some chronic pain for almost four months now. It comes and goes. Sometimes the pain is somewhat dull, but constant. Sometimes it’s very sharp, and suddenly takes my breath away. Even as I start to write this, I’m experiencing a dull, distracting sensation. I’ve seen doctors and specialists. I’ve had numerous pictures taken of inside my body. I’ve had hands laid on me in prayer. The pain is still there. I’m fully aware that our Heavenly Physician could think it and my pain would be vanquished. I’ve experienced that relieving intervention before and it’s beautiful! This time though, He’s allowing me to experience this pain for an extended amount of time. I believe that God uses these times in our lives to grow us. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:9-10, 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.
This time is no different. Our Father is allowing this thorn in my flesh in order to stimulate me in other areas of my life; to make me weak, so His strength is evident.
One of those is my prayer life. Even as I often pray when the pain comes asking for relief. That’s not what I’m talking about. The Holy Spirit is using my painful situation to enhance my prayer life and showing me others that need to be lifted up. When I start to pray for relief, I pray with a focus on my pain. Then it happens. My heart is drawn to someone else who is also going through something. For example, I know of a young woman who for around a year has been going through some physical issues far more severe than what I’m experiencing. I can’t fathom what her and her family has been going through. I find my prayers for my own relief becoming less and less and turning towards this young woman and others who are hurting increasing greatly.
Another thing I’ve been taught in this time is patience. Ugh. That’s not easy to admit. I’ve hit the arm of the couch with my fist because the pain has been so intense. I’m fully aware that I will be healed. I know there will come a time when this malady will be gone. I can pray and ask for healing and be confident in that, but it’s not in my timing, it’s our Father’s timetable. Even as difficult as it is, I’m learning to be patient and wait because I trust what my Father has ahead for me. Galatians 5:22 points out that patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit. Evidence that God is at work in me is that I’m learning to be patient.
Lastly, He’s teaching me to rest. I’ll be honest; this has been the hardest lesson for me to learn. I often fail at it. With what’s going on, physical exertion increases the pain. For the past couple of months I’ve had to avoid a lot of physical activity. I wrote last year of my new time working with a trainer and the results it’s brought. I’ve tried to work out and it brings pain. I’ve tried to circumvent what the Holy Spirit has shown me and work out anyway. I’ve easily rationalized it because exercise is good for my body. How could He not want me to exercise?!? When I’ve done this, the pain has actually increased; enough so that I realize that He’s trying to tell me something. So I’ve obeyed and stopped working out for now. That’s been really difficult for me to temporarily give this new area in my life that I’m excited about up. When I’m home at night, I need to rest as much as possible to help alleviate the discomfort. When I was younger, finding time to rest wasn’t an issue. I could easily find time to relax and put my feet up. Now, with the experienced eyes of a “grown-up” I see all the things that need to get done and I’m always up and moving trying to get things accomplished, straightened or cleaned. It’s difficult for me to just BE. (That’s another entire devotional on it’s own!) As difficult as it is for me to find time to rest, I know and understand its importance. Early in the 6th chapter of Mark, Jesus sends out the twelve disciples in groups of two to do ministry. Later in the chapter we see that when they come back together, verse 31 says, ““Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.” Jesus is the one that said that they should find a place to rest. He understood the importance of finding time to rest. Even God, who is omnipotent, powerful above all, the source for everything found time to rest after He created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 2:2 says, “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.”
These are just a few things that the Holy Spirit has been teaching me through this. What about you? We all are going through some type of pain. What are you struggling through? Is God trying to teach you something in the midst of your struggles? I would encourage you to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal those things to you. Find some time to be still and listen for the instruction of the Holy Spirit.
Oh Father! Thank you so much for revealing yourself to me in these times of discomfort and pain. I know that my pain doesn’t bring you joy, but you are growing and teaching me in these times. Father I still pray for relief from this pain knowing and believing that you will heal me in Your time. Lord, I also lift up those that are physically struggling as well. It’s my prayer that you would not only heal them according to Your timetable, but that they would hear and see what You have for them in this time. I ask that in our time of weakness, You would be strong, just as Your Word says. Thank you Father. Amen.