Focus: Enduring pain
Isaiah 46:4 (NIV) Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
There are all kinds of pain and nobody gets through this life without their share. Pain comes in all kinds of packages. Maybe yours came looking like a beautiful birthday present to begin with—but, it blew up in your face. Or, it might have come in an unassuming parcel that had no sign or notice of the untold and unexpected pain it carried—and the effects were ‘time-released’.
Pain can come through events that didn’t turn out as we had hoped—and linger like a dark cloud on a humid summer afternoon. It can come through a split second injury which gave you no warning—and sometimes hang on you the rest of your life. It might show up after the loss of a loved family member or friend—and change you in ways you didn’t think possible.
Sometimes you see it coming—and sometimes you don’t. Pain doesn’t always call ahead when it’s headed in your direction. That’s one of the things that can be so challenging when it comes knocking. If you had been warned, maybe you could have prepared yourself somehow. If you had known it was on its way—maybe you could have just ‘been out for the day’ so you wouldn’t have been home when it rang the bell and you opened the door so unsuspectingly. Oh, why does pain have to ever come at all?
Some pain comes in the form of consequences. As much as we’d like to think it shouldn’t exist, pain from ‘consequences’ is one of the worst kinds. Consequences can follow you around like a ball and chain, or a dark shadow that won’t go away. You’d like to move on and make it stay in the past—but in truth, you can’t get rid of it. A consequence doesn’t leave—it’s something that is here to stay and you’re just going to have to deal with.
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Physical pain, as a result of injury or disease can send you staggering. A person who never touched a common over the counter painkiller might end up addicted to prescription narcotics. If they become able to ‘manage’ the problem of physical pain—they usually wind up with problems of other sorts. A person on narcotics can’t live a normal life. Relationships suffer—energy levels fluctuate—behavior is unpredictable—they can’t think straight enough to accomplish much of anything, even if they were able to consider doing something constructive. In that kind of bondage—there is a whole other dimension of pain.
The pain resulting from rejection can leave a grown man or woman whimpering like a lost child. Bewildered and humiliated—you awkwardly grope for purpose and significance in the wake of a loved one casting you off like an old cell phone—as though you had somehow outlived your service contract—while they move on to the next fascinating thing.
A pain that can gnaw on your mind and stomach comes from ‘regret’. We’ve all had some of that, too. It shows up in the form of, ‘if only…” When you have a chronic problem with this kind of pain it can be very tormenting. You wander from one scenario of the past to another—reliving failures. You may also glimpse moments when life was all in front of you and you made a choice that took you down a dark road that led to alienation and misunderstanding. You can’t seem to help going back to that place and wonder how things might have been different, if only…
Pain shows us who we really are, and what we are really made of. From a spiritual standpoint, pain will most definitely take you further from God—or drive you closer to Him. A long-term struggle with physical or emotional pain is the acid test for any person’s faith.
Yesterday, I heard a country re-write version of the old song ‘Love Lifted Me’. The familiar message of the song came flooding back and brought encouragement as I recalled some of the words I learned so long ago. A line from the chorus stayed with me as though it had been dropped out of heaven like a lifeline. The words were, “When nothing else could help, Love lifted me.”
There are some painful things in life that we just have to endure. Things we’d like to fix—but we can’t. Things we didn’t want to see break—but, they did. When pain like that forces its way in and there is nothing we can do to make it go—God is Love—and Love can still lift us. Some pain might never leave—but neither will the Love of God. In spite of our circumstances, or our consequences—His Love can sustain us and see us through.
Declaration: I will find new strength and get to know God in a deeper way as I endure pain. I will be encouraged in the Lord as I experience the ability of His Love to lift me above my circumstances and consequences when nothing else can help.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.