God In the Midst of Pain
That morning began like every other morning of my life.
Getting out of bed was easy, and as I brushed my teeth, the day’s events passed through my consciousness. But first…Jesus and coffee.
There in my devotional reading was what I thought was a sign, a glimpse into what may have seemed odd, but still,
I read through.
“Do what you can to establish and maintain spiritual and emotional balance. It is imperative that you stay strong and steady, especially when faced with uncertainty and upheaval. I will give you wisdom in accommodating change. You will once again find a sense of normal but not without effort and putting your trust in Me.”
Psalm 9:10“. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”
You see, when we walk with Jesus, nothing is as we expect it to be. And I mean NOTHING.
(Re-read that, please.)
My response was a whisper, “Jesus, no matter what comes, please help me to trust in you because I know you.”
Tuesday went on the usual way, and I exercised at spin class, ate my breakfast, and headed out the door for work.
When I sat in my car, I got a sharp pain on my side, like a “Charlie horse.”
But that pain only increased as the hours went by.
I knew something was wrong. I had prayed for God to give me relief, which we, by default, immediately pray for, right?
“Take this away from me.”
But instead, His tender firm response was, “get help.”
Interestingly, we can intuitively know when something is wrong, especially when we walk with the Holy Spirit, and He indeed guides our steps.
When you and I seek God, we will NOT be misled by Him.
He was there when I drove myself to urgent care.
He was there as I was moved into the ER.
He was there when the doctor told me I needed to have my appendix removed ASAP.
He was there when I was taken to the hospital to be admitted.
GOD WAS THERE.
Then I remembered the sign I read that very morning;
“It is imperative that you stay strong and steady, especially when faced with uncertainty and upheaval.”
“Thank you, God, for you always give us a heads up.”
Pay attention to the signs. That’s a good thing to remember.
Waking up after surgery is weird, like, wait, this is really happening.
The doctor tells me, “You will be ok. Your appendix was not ruptured, but I discovered a hernia that needed repairing in the process. Your total recovery is now three weeks of no hard physical activity.”
To someone like me, that’s a lot, and it is punishment. I love physical activity. At this moment, I am still sedated, and therefore I still think that I can move and do. But still, at that moment, I repeat to myself, “adapt Georgina and change.”
Reality sinks in, and I begin to do what I know opens the door to recovery; surrender and acceptance are key.
It is accepting that I am not where I want to be.
I am in pain.
But the reality is that pain is inevitable when you lose part of yourself.
When I talk about signs being there to guide us, I mean it because if our spiritual eyes are open, we can see the world, and everything that happens to us is in a different perspective.
I believe that the concept of pain is one of the most controversial topics when humans talk about God or are trying to figure Him out.
Regardless of the faith we profess, we must deal with the concept of pain and why an all-loving God allows it if indeed He loves.
I heard Graham Cook say, “when God sees you, He sees nothing wrong with you because he sees Christ who took away everything that was wrong about you. Whenever we experience hardship and pain, it is not because there’s something wrong with us. It is because God sees that a part of Him is missing in us”.
Friends, sanctification is never an instantaneous act.
Healing isn’t linear.
Pain is a great teacher that takes us closer to the heart of God and the character of Christ.
It is an opportunity to experience God’s love intimately.
I sense Him as He enters the moment and suffices my need.
Suddenly I realize that to lack emptiness would be to have fullness, and thus refreshing and refilling would not be necessary.
“This is a sign,” I whisper, “you’ve got my attention, God. I need refilling. I need continual renewal.”
“But I will keep watching for the Lord;
I will wait for the God who delivers me.
My God will hear my lament.”
You see, the promise of Jesus is He is with us (Emmanuel).
He is the one who sits with me in my lament. He makes Himself available to face pain and hardship with Him.
So, my response can only be this; I express my gratefulness to Him during my unexpected pain.
My pain matters to Jesus because I matter to Him.
It is at this moment I have made my choice. I choose to believe in a God who wants to immerse in a relationship with me through pain and make it His own pain.
Rather than to take away hardship and never experience that, God would do the unexpected and come down to lament with me!
Yes! I’d rather believe in such an unexpected proof of love.
Because the process that pain provides that not one other thing in the world does is that it repairs, restores, resurrects, and redeems!
Crushing can allow the lift off again and have a purpose that develops to bless me and others!
I’d rather believe that than to believe that God is oblivious to my pain and that pain has no purpose but to kill a part of me.
That’s the upside economy of faith. Nothing makes sense.
I am not where I want to be today.
But this is where I am with Jesus.
At this moment I give myself permission to lament and allow God to heal me, knowing that whatever piece He sees missing will grow out of the pruning of this pain.
It has already begun, and suddenly I can see it.
I can’t help but wonder what it is that His resurrected life will grow in me.
The gift of His presence is that He is here breaking with me, feeling my pain as me.
This week is Holy Week, and every day of it has represented a part of Jesus in me, a part of me in Him. To say that I am not part of Holy Week is to deny that Jesus is in me and I am in Him.
We get to experience this together. My friend Jesus and me.
So, I begin to feel my pain and the humanity of being frail.
Because I have this one thing that I have learned about pain.
His pain, my pain, your pain.
We get to share it and never compare it.
Therefore, faith sees pain past the question of why God allows it. Into the realm of learning to surrender to what is possible.
A life past the darkness of the moment into the impossible beyond what I can imagine.
I choose surrender and humility because these are the keys that unlock God’s power to work all things together for my good. Friends, this gives us the ability to see past anything into what Jesus will do if we surrender our pain to Him.
We give it to Him instead of asking Him to take it away.
In exchange we get Jesus.
This opportunity is always a matter of choice.
I am here now. It is not where I want to be.
But this is not where I will stay.