The Blessings of Pain


detail shot of Merging #3

We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscious, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. C.S. Lewis~The Problem with Pain

Things have been quiet again around here and it hasn’t been by choice this time. If you’ve been following me on my Facebook or Instagram feed you know I’ve been dealing with some pretty serious shoulder pain that has yet to get better. What happened you ask?

Well I woke up one day with a stiff neck that got rapidly worse and moved into my left shoulder. I went to my doctor to figure out what it was and he thought I had bursitis in my shoulder, prescribed the standard medication and told me to take it easy and let it heal. So I tried. Then on one of the coldest days in Alberta my the pain got so bad that I couldn’t stand without balling my eyes out and my left arm started to loose sensation so we immediately went to Emerge the pain was so bad that it was affecting my blood pressure and they thought I was having a heart attack and immediately gave me an ECG to check my heart. Once they determined that was fine they shot me full of muscle relaxants and sent me home.

So I followed up again with my doctor, got Xrays, and Ultrasounds and discovered I do have bursitis in my left shoulder but I also have calcific tendinitis in that same shoulder, osteoarthritis and my C4 & C5 are showing wear and maybe pinching a nerve in my neck causing major inflammation on my upper left side. I can’t sleep, I can’t stand, I can’t work, I can barely do basic house stuff like pour myself a glass of water or load the dishwasher without laying down and doing heat therapy every hour and that’s with all the meds they have me on. So I started physio every other day for the last several weeks but it hasn’t been helping so I got referred to a new physiotherapist and I had my new assessment yesterday and instead of going for traction like prescribed and thought would help I left yesterday with yet another diagnosis to add to my ever growing list, Arterial thoracic outlet syndrome which essentially means the structures around my collar bone are impinging on an artery that is cutting off blood flow to my left arm. I dunno what’s going to happen from here, I need to follow up with my doctor and surgery is probably in my future.

I don’t write this all for sympathy or for explanation of why I haven’t been around much but to tell you that even in this God is teaching me truths and I wanted to share those with you so that all this can glorify God.

First let me clarify something I’m no saint I’m not going to sit here and say this is a cake walk and that I’m not struggling through this because that would be a lie. I’m not going to say that I haven’t been upset, scared, angry or questioned the timing of all this because I have and am but even still God is whispering to me, I know he is there in this and I know he desires an open and honest relationship with me not just my highlight reel but my broken moments and raw emotions too.

So often I find Christians profess that Jesus is God but forget that he was also fully human. He gets it, he has felt the whole gambit of human emotions, he has experienced pain and suffering and he too asked God if he could skip the suffering part but he also said “your will be done” and that’s what I’m trying to do, find peace in knowing that God’s will, will be done in all this. I don’t know what that looks like, but perhaps me just writing this is part of it so you can find some truths you need in a time of your own suffering. So here are a few things I’ve gleaned in this season and my sincere prayer is that these seeds of truth will bear much fruit at harvest.

Don’t be Surprised

1 Peter 4:12-13

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

John 16:33

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

So often we are shocked and surprised when something happens to us, as North American’s in particular I feel we forget that THIS is not heaven. We are still living in a broken world, with broken people and broken mortal bodies so things won’t be perfect until Jesus comes back again. If we remember this, keep this thought in our minds then when things do go wrong, when the Storms of life hit because they will then we won’t be surprised and can be better prepared. These trials aren’t just things that happen to someone else, at some point you will be faced with struggles so prepare now during calm seasons so that you will be able to endure them by standing on the rock that is Jesus.

Jesus is Lord over the Storm

Matthew 8: 23-27

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

We’ve all read this passage at some point in our spiritual walk, but what really hit me in this season of my life was not that Jesus was sleeping but that the disciples had a choice. They could have trusted him in this time of chaos and just curled up next to him and had a rest but instead they woke him fearful. I don’t know about you but I’m tired, and there will always be another storm in our lives to deal with. How different those moments would be for us if we just rested, letting the waves rock us as we lay next to Jesus waiting for the storm to pass. To me this concept fills my soul with much needed peace. I’m working on this truth as I sit stuck on my couch I’ve been listening, praying and studying God’s word more resting in the knowledge that awake or asleep Jesus is Lord over the storms in my life.

In ALL circumstances

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Mark 12: 41-44

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

You might wonder why I chose this passage to share. This was one of the particular passages that the Holy Spirit brought to my mind in this particular season. It is so easy to give God glory and praise in our times of “wealth” and prosperity when we feel good, when our life has had blessings poured out on us when everything is going well, but what about the times when it isn’t. The widow gave out of her poverty, she gave in her time of need when she didn’t have anything else to give she gave her all. I think this is key for us to learn. When our hearts feel heavy with despair, when our bodies cry out in pain can we give praise and glory to Jesus in those times of brokenness and physical/spiritual poverty? Can we give our all? He did. With nails in his hands he still cared for those around him, he still called out to God. Can we do the same?

Suffering leads to Humility

2 Chronicles 33:12 – In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. 

Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 [g]gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

The curse of pain is also it’s gift. Pain shows us where the place of hurt and need are so we can address and focus on healing those areas. When pain happens in our physical bodies we go to the doctor to address the issue and seek healing, without it we wouldn’t know there was a problem until it was too late. The same is true of our spiritual life. It is in our times of suffering that God works to refine us. Pain strips us of our strength and self reliance and forces us to see the weakness in our own characters and our need of others in our life and our need for Jesus to bring healing and to carry our burdens. If we never suffered our eyes and hearts would never be opened to this truth and we would be poorer for it.

God is Good ALL the time

Romans 8: 28 –  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

There’s a saying among the protestant communities that goes like this:

“God is Good all the time, all the time God is good” I want this to be my statement of faith. I want to declare this in the times of blessing in my life and in the times of suffering. I want my soul to know fully and without doubt that this is TRUE, God’s got this, He is Lord over my storm, he is working good in me even in the times of the pain and suffering. Even when everything is out of my control. That’s the point of faith isn’t it to keep going even when it’s not clear on how God will use this for good. I don’t have to see or know the plan, I just have to keep seeking him with all my heart and trusting that he is in control of the plan and believing in the his promise to give me hope and a future.

Dear present and healing God, I am weak and so often I run from pain. Give me your strength to help me look into the face of my own pain and suffering and see it as a way to share in your humanity. Transform my mind so that I can look at my suffering and respond the way you would respond with grace, humility and long suffering. Teach me to draw closer to you through pain and suffering. Teach me to see my pain as evidence of places that need the most healing not just in my body but in my soul. Remind me that pain is temporal, on this side of eternity it hurts but you offer the promise of eternal healing and wholeness. Give me courage to walk through this season of life, give me your peace. Whisper the truth to me that you will never leave me or forsake me and teach me to rest in that truth. In Jesus powerful and healing name, Amen.

I pray this will be a blessing to you in your time of struggle or will help prepare you for future storms.

Amanda

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