Wednesday, June 30, 2010

He is strong

One of my all-time favorite passages about God and living in chronic pain is writen by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians. We don't know really what condition Paul had but in other places he talks about his eyes being weak - and having a physical illness. Here is the passage:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (New International Version)

7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But 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. 10That 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.

I have probably talked about this passage before - but it is so rich in encouragment. Here are some of the main points that I think can be applied to the life of anyone with chronic health conditions and also to the family and friends:

1. Paul was given this health issue from GOD. And the reason was because God had given Paul great knowledge and had revealed much to him. The illness was put there for the purpose of keeping Paul from being proud in himself. I don't know about you, but I find that prideful people are the hardest ones to be around ... and I don't want that in myself. So if God gives me any health issue to help keep me on my face before God and giving the glory for my life to God rather than taking it for myself ... awesome!

2. Paul is honest about how he didn't want this life. He begged God 3 times to take this away from him. I think the Christian world in particular makes those of us with physical problems feel bad if we acknowledge that our illnesses or pain is not something we wanted in our lives. Paul's writing is so honest. Let's be honest with each other - and with ourselves. Sickness and pain are not easy, they are not things that most people would ask for. But as we see later - God can redeem something that is hard for us and make it into something to rejoice in!

3. Paul is content. I have done a lot of research of what's out there as far as support groups and forums for people in chronic pain. I am greatly saddened at much of what I see. There seems to be an attitude with people who are in pain or people who counsel them that contentment will never happen as long as whatever issue is not cured. But I also have seen that so many people never get cured on this earth. Once we have been honest about the fact that pain hurts in many ways - we can then move on to being content even happy in the midst of physical illness and pain. Paul did. He even goes father and says that because of his physical weakness God is shown strong in Him. The final conclusion is that it's all about God. If people see someone who they think should be a victim to their illness living a life of purpose and joy and giving all the credit to God - then God is glorified.

This is what I desire in my life.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

ALL Things

When you are sitting there in the midst of pain that won't go away - unable to do things that you want to, struggling with wanting to be accepted, and all the other feelings that chronic pain brings; it is hard to see anything good ever coming from your situation.

In Romans 8:28 there is a verse that challenges the natural feelings that come with being in chronic pain: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." WOW! In talking about "all things" that God causes to work together for the good ... wouldn't this include pain and illness? He doesn't asy "some thing", or "things that are easy" .. but rather he saysL "ALL things". This verse should be engrained on the memory of every person who calls themselves a follower of Jesus! We are all (not just people with chronic pain) going to be faced with something that is hard. I have said this over and over again. But the Apostle Paul understood that ALL things - suffering, sickness, pain, good times, bad times, friendships, employment ... ALL things are in God's hands and God will work with those things to make them come together for the good for those who are His! We can't see the big picture but I think it is so important to remind ourselves of the fact that God CAN. And to remind ourselves and each other of the fact that God knows everything and that He knows what really is GOOD for each and every one of His children.

I am reminded of being a little child and wanting things that were probably not good for me - I often wanted candy, but my parents were dedicated to healthy eating - and so candy was a rare treat. Now, as a child I could have seen my parents not giving me candy as being mean - as causing suffering. But as an adult I now understand that candy as a child is very harmful on growing teeth. To this day I have never had a cavity! My parents saw the big picture - just like God does, and they gave me just what I needed for my GOOD - just like God does. As a child I once was bitten by a wild squirrel. I ran in with hand bleeding and I was crying - but my Momma took me directly to the doctor - who I knew would help me. However, when we got there the doctor immediately gave me a big shot and it hurt much worse than the squirrel bite. I had expected the doctor to be kind to me and not to add more pain to my suffering! But the doctor knew that the danger of me getting tetnus was very real - and that by causing pain for a moment would protect me from getting a dangerous infection. God is like that doctor - He causes pain in our lives and we often can't understand why. We want Him to just give us everything we want ... but then when He allows suffering or even causes suffering we don't understand. But God knows what the future holds - He knows what we don't --- He sees the big picture.

I for one am determined to trust Him even when He allows pain - because just like my parents, and that doctor - He sees the big picture and He alone truely knows what is GOOD for me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Life to Come

There is one thought that makes all the suffering of being in chronic pain endurable for me. When I feel as if I just cannot take another moment of agonizing pain in this body of mine, when I feel as if each breath is impossible, each step unbearable ... this thought alone can ease the pain: HEAVEN. I am not alive in this life only ... but as someone who has accepted the grace of Jesus Christ as my Savior I know that this life is but a shadow of the life to come for eternity in heaven. The thing that makes heaven so precious to me is that I know that there I will be able to see God. I have loved God from my earliest memories, and I have loved Him through years of confusion and illness, I have been unable to escape from His amazing love even when I contemplated leaving Him - I was unable to because I know His love. Being always in the presence of my Jesus will be joy unspeakable. Seeing that Holy Face with my own eyes ... unfathomable. Even now as I sit here and write - I find that the thought of being in heaven forever with my God takes my breath away.

In the Bible the Apostle Paul wrote: "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." (1 Corinthians 15:19) What he is saying is that if we believe and put our hope in Jesus for this life on earth only ... what's the point? The life to come in heaven is where all of our deepest hopes put securly in Christ Jesus will come to fruit. We will finally see the big picture. We will finally see our God face to face. We will have no more pain, no more tears, no more suffering. Oh the thought!!!

Let no one pity us who have found the peace and joy of our Jesus as we look expectantly toward heaven!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Asking according to God's Will

In Luke chapter 5 verses 12-13 there is a story of Jesus healing a man who had leprosy.

"While He (Jesus) was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and im[plored Him, saying, "Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean." And he streatched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him."

This was a man who was probably very lonely (as many illnesses or chronic pain can be) he was shunned because of the contagious nature of leprosy, and suffering greatly. Here are some of my thoughts about this account:

1. This man knew the reputaion of Jesus - he knew that He was powerful enough to heal. He put himself under Jesus authority and called Him "Lord" which means "master". There was great respect in the way that he asked for healing. The man knew that he should not demand healing - rather he aknowledged that Jesus has the power to heal and said "If You are willing..." I find this in direct opposition to many who feel that they have the place to demand healing from God as if he were our slave rather than our God and King. I have actually had Christians tell me that it is wrong to pray "Thy will be done!" because I need to demand of God what I want! I figure that I am human and my understanding and vision is limited - while God know and sees everything ... so why wouldn't I pray that He do what His will demands?

3. Jesus touched him. This gives me goosebumps. This is a man who had lived a life probably for years (he was covered with the horrible skin disease)of being "untouchable". People would have shunned him - the law had many rules about leprosy - to protect others from this disease and to not make others "unclean". I feel that the stigma of leprosy was similar to what some people feel about the AIDS epidemic. Much of the attitude around leprosy was ruled by fear. I can only imagine what it felt like to have Jesus - the famous teacher and Lord TOUCH this man!

Sometimes, being ill or in chronic pain can make you feel untouchable -- and lonely. Often I just want to have people interact with me like a "normal" person. I am sure this is nothing compaired with what this man with leporsy felt. But, it is the feeling of so so many people in the world. Having people afraid that they might "catch" whatever .. or afraid that they might hurt you, being unable to participate in some areas of life ... all of this adds up to feeling alone. But Jesus is the God who reaches down to our suffering - whatever kind of suffering it may be, and touches us. He doesn't put on a glove or medical mask .. when He came to the earth He came just like us ... He lives and suffered just like us. We don't have to feel like He doesn't care.

The same God who reached out His hand to touch this man so many years ago is the same God who desires to touch each of us with His love and heal us in exactly the way that is best according to His will for each of us!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Eternal Weight of Glory!

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renbewed day by day. For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things that are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This is one of the most encouraging passages in the whole Bible to me! We live in a culture that puts almost all of it's focus on what we see - what is here on this earth - clothes, food, homes, romance, pleasure, possesions ... but this attitude is so different from what the Bible says shoudl be our focus! We need to have eyes for eternity. Even as a child I remember loving the idea that our lives as believers in Jesus continued into heaven. I loved a movie where the body of Johnny Appleseed is described as "Just his mortal husk!" I knew that there was so much more to life than just this body of ours. It's just a home for our spirit during the short existence of this earthly world. The REAL and best existence is our life which will continue forever in heaven.

Another thing that this passage in Corinthians reminds us of is that there IS suffering for believers here on earth. If you study the life of the Apostle Paul he endured so much agony - he was stoned and left for dead, shipwreked, beaten, imprisoned, and he also had what he called a "thorn in the flesh" ... and yet he calls the sufferings that he endured, "Momentary" and "light". He kept his eyes on heaven and didn't let the physical and emotional sufferings of this world bring him down.

I certainly need to take a lesson from Paul! I have been discouraged lately because of suffering that is really not that big of a deal. I need to remmeber to keep my eyes on the greater life to come - and on the outcome from suffering - if I am willing to allow God to work through the pain in life.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BACK finally and diving into the Word of God in relation to pain and suffering!

Hi Friends! I am so sorry that I have not been blogging lately - my sweet husband and I moved at the beginning of June and just yesterday finally got internet installed! I have missed my semi-daily blogging - and this discipline of writing lately so am very excited to be back!

Since this month i am trying to focus on God and illness. suffering, pain I wanted to share a passage in the Bible that has been great encouragment to me: Isaiah 43:1-2

God Speaking: " Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Isreal, you Savior."

About two years ago I had surgery to inplant some ellectrical boxes into my back - I believe I have mentioned this before - but I was awake for the entire surgery - and it was very painful as the surgeon guided the wires through my secrum! My dear Pastor Phil Stevenson had given our Church this passage in Isaiah to memorize and thankfully I had done so. As the surgeon cut into my back and began working I said this passage over and over again. It gave me great peace during this painful surgery.

One thing that I have noticed is that in this passage God is saying that His peaple WILL have troubles - they will pass through waters, fire etc. He doesn't say that they might but that when they DO ... I have heard many so called Christians talk about how if we are really loving and following God we will have nothing but "good" things happen in our lives. I just don't see that in Scripture. Some of the most precious and faithful men and women of God suffered greatly in Scripture. I want to be willing to suffer if it will bring me closer to loving God - I want to be willing to call on Him through the waters and fire that often surround me and to know His peace that passes all understanding!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Whose Fault?

I love the stories of Jesus healing people. In John 9 there is a story that sheds light on te whole topic of pain and illness. Jesus met a man who had been born blind. The religious leaders of that day immediately did what so many religious people still do today: they decided that someone must have sinner and done something wrong for this man to be "punished" by being blind. John 9: 2. But Jesus amswered them: "It was neither that this man sinner, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him." Jesus went on to heal this man of his blindness.

I think that so often it is easy to point fingers and say that illness must be the cause of something a human has done. There definately are illnesses that can be from doing wrong or abusing our bodies .. but this Bible story shows us that we should not be so fast to judge when we meet something who is ill or in pain. God is big enough to use even something like a baby being born blind to bring about a greater purpose that we can see.

I for one would be happy if God has allowed my physical weekness and pain to somehow bring people to see the bigness and wonderfulness of our great God!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Job 2

I don't ever want to be like Job's wife. All through the suffering that Job endured his wife was there - but not as an encouragment at all. Over and over she tells Job to "curse God and die". She sees the suffering that her husband is enduring and she has no hope. The only escape that she sees from his agony is for him to turn his back on God and die. We don't know exactly what went on between her and Job - or all of the details of her experience. We do know that she lost children and home and her husband was very ill. She had every eathly reason to despair and she did. I don't think that her attitude is too far off from what ou culture tells people to do in the midst of suffering. In fact, I think her attitude is right on with what our government and culture feels is right. DIE. Life that is full of suffering is not worth living. Life that has finished it's poductivity is not worth living. I am sure that Job's illness (he had boils - horribly painful sores covering his whole body) was a huge burden on her. She probably had to care for him, clean his oozing wounds. YUCK! But rather than look past the horrible suffering her husband (and herself) was enduring she gave up and begged Job to do the same.

There is a movie which I hate. "Million Dollar Baby" is the story of a young girl who raises out of poverty and becomes a famous boxer. But during her last fight her neck is broken and she is paralized from the neck down. While lying in a hospital bed she beggs her good friend and coach to help her kill herself. She tells him that she was born to fight and since she cannot box anymore her life is worthless. What a contrary view from the Word of God! God is in the business of redeeming - taking something ruined and turning it into something good.

Let's not be like Job's wife! Let's see past our pain and suffering and know with all of our heart that God can use us as broken vessels and give joy even in the pain.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


When I think of a Biblical character who went through suffering (physical or otherwise) Job is right at the top of the list. The story of Job is that he was a righteous man and Satan thought that Job only followed and loved God because of all the blessings and easy life that God had given to Job. So, God gave permission to Satan to test Job by causing trials in his life. And wow how that trials came! Job lost his children, his house, his health ... everything "good" was stripped away from Job.

There are a lot of great lessons in the story of this man - read the whole book of Job if you never have - and even if you have this story can be great to read over and over again.

One of the most important things that I have learned from the story of this man is that sickness, trials, pain, suffering are not a result (always) of sin or making wrong choices. There is a bigger picture than just this little piece that we see - this piece that is so full of pain for so many of us. Job was a good man. And he still suffered great agony in every way - but he never turned his back on God. So many times people will hint that I am in pain or suffering so much physically because I don't have enough faith or that I am being punished for something. I am so far from perfect, that if God was a God of vindictive punishing I would be very deserving! BUT, the Bible is clear that many times physically pain and illness is part of a bigger plan.

As I struggle through the pain - it helps to keep my eyes on the face of God and the fact that He sees the bigger picture! That picture that I will see someday - how He was using and redeeming the suffering He has allowed in my life.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


WOW it's already June! I am sorry that I have not been on blogging as much - we are getting ready to move and I have been sick with some flu thing with fever for a while ...

But i just wanted to give you an idea of what is coming up for June with my focus and the blog. I have mentioned God in relation to my chronic pain and I am wanting to do some study about God and pain .. why He allows it, what He uses it for, how He interacts with us specifically through pain etc. If you have specific questions about God and chronic pain or pain in general just message me!

I have gone through a LOT of opinions about God and my health. One day at my college I was just making copies in the Library minding my own business and then out of nowhere some guy walked up and said that he knew I was sick and that of course I must be demon possessed to be sick for so long! Seems that with illness people have so many opionions and often it comes down to the fact that the ill person must have done something bad to deserve this "fate". I will focus on some of my thoughts about that as well as other items related to God and illness or pain. BUT I will be relying on the Bible not just my own opinions as we look at this - the Bible has a lot directed at health and illness ... some of which might be surprizing to some of you.

Get ready this month will be a lot of fun - and a lot of challenge!