It’s the call in the middle of the night, or a child’s cry from a bad dream. It is the unexplained noise in the next room or the tornado siren in middle of the day. It’s the screeching brakes of the car behind you and the growling dog in front of you. It is the uncertainty of a detrimental diagnosis or the certainty of the impending layoff. It can be a spider on the wall or the words, “I don’t love you anymore and we are out of time.” It is a part of betrayal, injustice, potential pain and letting go of a loved one. It’s the unknown, imagined, known and unimaginable. It is fear.
Last week, I received news that no one wants to hear. “You need surgery.” I have had pain for as long as I can remember. Cheerleading in college, a serious car accident, and my genetics caused chronic, neck pain, migraines and degeneration in my cervical spine. I have had two neck surgeries and now face my third.
While I don’t feel angry about dealing with pain, I do feel cheated by it at times. I feel sad and wonder what it would be like to wake up and not hurt or need doctors and medications to function. I feel frustrated that I can’t do everything I want to do. A third major surgery was not in my plans. I wanted the minimally invasive, home the same day kind of quick fix I see on television. I wanted relief without pain.
As I drove home from the surgeon’s office, crying ugly tears, I told God how I upset and fearful I was. I told Him if He wanted to heal me, now was the time. I told myself that I did not need surgery. I wouldn’t lose the use of my hand and arm, now numb.
Have you ever faced a fearful situation like that? Did you feel angry or frustrated? Did you feel anxious? Were you fearful? Did you try to talk your way out of it?
What I realized on that drive home, and in the days that followed, is that I am going to have pain in life. It isn’t fair. Things happen that do not make sense. So how do we navigate it? How do we get through it? How do we encourage others in it?
We have to take our eyes off the problem and put them back on Christ. He sees our situation and He understands our fears. When we focus on our problems, we cease trusting God. I am not saying, we should not work towards the best solutions, be informed and make wise decisions. However, some situations are out of our control and bigger than we can handle. When we don’t see the outcome, and only see the hurdle, it causes us to acknowledge that we truly do not have control over life. However, we can trust the ONE who does.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like pain. I am always trying to get out of it. Whether it is physical, emotional or mental –I do not want to experience it. I don’t know anyone who does. However, God is not always interested in delivering me out of my pain. Sometimes, He wants to use it to shape me into a person, who is ready for battle. To be able to do battle, you first have to train. Pain is a great trainer. You have heard the expression, “No pain, no gain.” Training is hard work and it usually involves pain. That pain however, develops strength.
In addition, God wants us to be light to others. He desires that we shine His love to others. I was reminded of this last week when I broke a glow stick. The glow stick is a pretty color, but it does not light the way until it is broken. Many times, we cannot understand others pain and minister to them, if we cannot identify with them and what they are going through.
2 Corinthians 4: 6-12 says, For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not indespair; persecuted,but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
Corinthians tells us that we are like the breakable jars of clay. However, we have the incredible “treasure” of the Holy Spirit within us. Because of that gift through the salvation of Jesus Christ, we have life. It is our responsibility to shine the light of Christ to others, in and through our brokenness.
That is why we can be crushed, but not despairing, persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but never destroyed.
Today, you may be facing a difficult trial or situation. Your child will watch how you handle it and learn from you how they should handle adversity.
Teach them, that while hardships and injustices do come, and life is full of uncertainties, we can always take shelter in the one who is always certain, Christ.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)