Does Pain Lead to Perfection?

I’m no stranger to health problems, lately.  I’ve documented several of them on this blog, and truthfully, was hoping I’d never have an opportunity to write about another one.

However, as I write today I’m out with a bad back, and have been confined to my bed for the past two days.  Though I’m sure there are days when we all wish we could hang out in bed, when we have no choice this occasional luxury becomes like a prison.

To be completely honest, the first few hours after my injury I was angry at myself for allowing it to happen, and spent some time complaining and moaning, and making everyone around me almost as miserable as me…maybe even moreso.

But, eventually, I got in control of my emotions, and have been able to accept that this is just another one of those things – something out of my control, and I’ve got to figure out how to react appropriately, and hang in there with the belief that God is going to see me through to the other side of it, whatever that is.  He always has, and I believe He will this time, too.

Christian Life Difficult

If this sounds entirely too noble to you, then please, let me assure you, it’s not.  By my own accord, I would still be moaning and complaining, and probably throwing things and cursing God and everyone around me.  That would be my human nature and reaction to things not going my way.

As proof, I spent a few minutes actually crying yesterday that I wasn’t able to be outside playing with the boys.  And I was fuming that all the plans I had for this week are going down the drain.  The thoughts and feelings I had were definitely not noble, and not Christ-like.

^^ I'd rather be doing this! ^^
^^ I’d rather be doing this! ^^

However, I’ve had some practice in these situations as of late.  My many health concerns (and please know, what I’ve been through, though not fun, pales in comparison to what many of you are going or have gone through) have allowed me to have some experience on how to handle these times of health crisis.

Today’s devotion in “My Utmost for His Highest,” by Oswald Chambers, was especially relevant:

“The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome….If we fail, it is because we have not practiced.  The crisis will reveal whether we have been practicing or not.  If we obey the Spirit of God, and practice in our physical life what God has put in us by His Spirit, then when the crisis comes, we shall find that our own nature as well as the grace of God will stand by us.”

God has allowed me to go through some pretty tough healthcare crises over the past few years (you can read about some of these in a couple of my previous posts if you’re interested: The Problem of Pain, my pregnancy experience (HG)) and I’ve experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all.  And through it all, through these “practice runs,” I’ve learned a little more about Him, and how He operates.

I've learned

In fact, in going through the tough things that God allows me to go through, and learning these things, my human nature is actually changing.

I’m also learning how the cares of this world are temporary.  I’m learning that I can endure a lot of rotten things.  I’m learning that others do love and care for me, and that I can depend upon that support.  And I’m learning that God is with me, constantly, in the alone times, in the darkest moments – even the ones I refuse to share with others who are closest to me.

James 1, 2-4

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  (James 1:2-4)

I am not boasting in myself when I quote the above Scripture.  I am boasting in the power of the Holy Spirit, who works in me and through me…yes, to perfect me.

No, I’m not perfect – yet.  One day I will be – when my spirit goes on to live in the presence of Christ and I am perfected in His image, with a new body, and a perfected mind and spirit.

The trials of this world, though troubling and painful at times, are oftentimes God’s way of sanding away the rough edges – and sometimes taking a sledgehammer and pickaxe when necessary – to mold and make me into that perfected image of Christ.

And each time I go through something like this, I learn more.  I learn more about the fragility of my human nature.  I learn that unless I am walking daily with the Lord then I am prone to wander away from the course He has set me on – and that He may have to start all over with me again, if I have gone too far.  I am learning just exactly HOW dependent I truly am upon Him – for everything.

And now, as I wait upon Him for resolution, I am praying that He will mold me more (it feels like He’s using the pickaxe this time!), and that next time I’ll be even closer to Him, and able to withstand the trial even more – with more faith, more hope, more strength, and more submission to Him – hopefully without throwing a fit and having a pity party first.

In the meantime, the Lord is patiently showing me how to get through this, how to endure.  Each time something like this happens, I turn to Him much faster, and much more willingly, than I did the last time.  And when I ask Him to, He shows me exactly what it is that He wants me to learn each time.

Last night, my husband and I were praying.  He’s having some pain in his neck and back, too, so we both need healing at this time.  Our prayer wasn’t just one of asking God to heal us, though.  We are learning more and more how to actually “commune” with God in our prayers.  They aren’t just laundry lists of what we need or what we want Him to do for us.  We are learning to talk with Him, to praise Him and acknowledge WHO HE IS in our prayers.  We have learned how to come to him with repentant hearts, which opens them up even more to receive His forgiveness, His Word, and to hear and discern His direction for us.  And we have learned how to be grateful, to thank Him, even in difficult situations – because we know that He is doing something powerful and amazing in the midst of our struggles – something that could eventually bring glory and honor to His Name, if we are willing to submit to His will.

And so this prayer was long, and we poured out our hearts to Him.  And yes, we asked for healing, but according to His will.  His healing could take on any form – not necessarily the one that we are hoping for ourselves – and we acknowledged that.

And here’s the crazy, honest truth – right after that prayer, my pain went away.  Like, seriously, COMPLETELY GONE!  We are talking the worst back pain you can imagine – I’ve not been able to walk or move without assistance since this happened, and last night, in the middle of the night, I felt like dancing!  I actually got out of the bed on my own, walked all around the room, on my own, and felt no pain!  For a few minutes – maybe ten minutes overall.

But, today I’m back down in pain.  However, those ten minutes strengthened my faith even more, and helped me to trust even more that God is in control, and that He is with me – he knows what I’m suffering, and He is going to get me through it.

Simple as that.

My attitude is much better today.  I have so much more HOPE, less stress, and less worry about the situation.  My head is clear about it, and I’m able to draw closer to Him, and to even share this with you.

So, here’s the deal:  Yes, we are going to suffer in this life.  Some of us are going to suffer more than others, and some of us are going to suffer A LOT.

2 Corinthians 4

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which 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)

But, we do not live as people without hope.  If Christ is your Savior, then you can have an eternal perspective on the trials of this life, which are temporary – and you have HOPE.

It’s not a “crutch,” my friends.  It’s TRUTH.  I’m living proof – and I believe I will be again.




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