Many things have been on my heart, but health issues including a surgery has kept them within me. It is time to share those thoughts and to write the book I've been setting aside for too long.
With surgery comes pain and, in my case, was preceded by pain that was making daily life difficult and sleep nearly impossible. Thankfully, now my pain is from of stretching muscles and tendons as I return to using my left arm and shoulder. Life is easier now. Once again I have learned that...
Pain Is Never Wasted by God
Pain comes in all sizes and shapes. It's physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual. We all can relate to pain in some way. My granddaughter's owies are fixed with a mama's kiss and an ice pack or a Band-Aide®. An anti-inflammatory relieves many people's aches and pains. Don't you wish it was that easy for emotional pain?
I've just been through months of physical pain. These events have taught me a few things: that pride keeps me from asking for needed help; who, of my friends, are truly caring; that prayer is essential to healing; and that I'd be in worse shape without the pain.
Where there's physical pain, there is also emotional and mental “side effects.” Like my feelings of lost control, the emotions of gratefulness for help received, anger with myself for not asking for assistance, and the frustration of not being able to do things as usual. One minute I'm appreciative of the relief of medications and friend's help, next I'm having a pity-party. Am I unique or do others respond the same way? As a nurse, I can truly say that pain yields many responses.
It takes more than just medicine to treat pain effectively. With the simple, short-lived pain of a scraped knee, the combination of a mama's kiss and that Band-Aide® works. For more severe pain other measures are needed; like a cast to rest the fractured area, crutches to maintain mobility, extra protein to promote healing, or the reassurance from the doctor that all will be well.
Philip Yancey's book, Pain: the Gift Nobody Wants carries a warning on the cover: Life without pain could really hurt you. It is the story of Dr. Paul Brand's work with leprosy. The lack of pain is what causes the loss of body parts in leprosy. Think about it. You cut your finger or stub your toe and you immediately stop what your doing. Pain is obeyed. You move the vacuum cleaner so it won't be in the way again. You cleanse and place a dressing over a cut to stop infection. And pain lingers in our mind. It has the potential to protect us from a repeat occurrence, to warn us of possible trouble so we can prevent it― stomach discomfort before an ulcer, or to cripple us― never vacuuming because last time you stubbed your toe om the vacuum. [smile]
Scripture also tells us that pain is a gift. It is a teacher, a preparer, a strengthener and more. How we use it is our choice though. It can teach us tolerance and understanding. It can prepare us to be more compassionate and responsive. It can bring us closer to the Lord.
One of those recent painful nights, my pain medication wasn't working as well and I was unable to sleep. I had tried changing positions, using ice, willing my brain to overlook it . . . Why is it that we always try to fix things ourselves?
I knew others were praying for me, but I wasn't. Finally, I called out to God. Within 20 minutes my pain had decreased enough for me to rest, to sleep, to heal. Part of that healing was drawing closer to my Lord, the Great Physician. In the days to follow, I spent precious hours in conversation with Him, reading scripture and other books to lift me up spiritually.
Whether physical or emotional pain, God never wastes our pain. Steve Shores* put it this way: “...affliction will be turned into an obedient creation, whose joy will be to weave skeins of glory in which I will be wrapped as in a splendid robe.”
Can you picture that comforting robe surrounding you like a cocoon, a giant hug, a mama's kiss? Can you feel it? God is always there to hold us, to strengthen us, to instruct us for His work. The ultimate result is the joy and glory that will last an eternity.
“Emotion honestly faced before a loving God becomes worship because feelings show us either blessedness (joy, gladness, triumph, hope) or our neediness (anger, grief, sadness,fear).”*
When I took my pain to Him, it truly was a sweet time of worship, of learning, of giving God control, of knowing, in a deeper way, how much He loves me.
Whether your pain is physical, emotional, or spiritual, it will not be wasted. God will use it! And you can have the blessed opportunity to worship Him with openness, honesty, and gratitude. As you rest in He―who wonderfully and perfectly knit you together, who knew your name before it was given, who will meet your every need, and who loves you as you are―you will be filled to overflowing with His hope and joy.