I have lived with unnamed chronic pain some 13 years now. As I asked my pastor yesterday, “Please don’t pray for alleviation, unless God is finished using this tool. …I’m just now learning to befriend it.” Through study and various doctors and tests we have narrowed it down and are investigating possibly RA and fibromyalgia. We try meds, we wait to see what happens, we try and learn all we can, we pray, we trust. Mostly the last two.
At my pastor’s suggestion, some months ago I did an intensive study through Job. I had never done that before, nor had I considered my own lot in life to qualify for “real suffering.” This study was of immeasurable benefit to me. I journaled through my reading, using good commentaries along the way to help instruct and lend some objectivity to my gleanings. I have been amazed at how many times small snippets will come across my path from most every direction, just when I have needed encouragement. Here are a couple quotes that have been empowering to me this week:
“Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.” – Charles H. Spurgeon
“Suffering is not retribution. It’s surgery.” – Anonymous
“We are too needy to be satisfied by a mere creature.” – John Owen
“Thanks to God that I am not the Author, else it would never have begun. Praise to God that I am not the Finisher, else it could never be complete.” (don’t know where this came from, but I liked it!)
Cowman’s Streams in the Desert (read it here for free, daily) has been just that for me. Hymn texts like “In My Weakness” and “I Run to Christ” as well as many old, familiar “friends” have strengthened me.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13 (my “life verse” since college)
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:9 (there was a time when I would not have dared to consider myself worthy to claim this one…to put myself on the same plain with Paul…God has instructed me otherwise. It’s not about my worthiness, but His!)
“I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.” Ps 71:16 (and I have learned I not only “go” in His strength, but that it is also required to “be still”…sometimes even moreso)
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Pet 4:12,13 (this trial is not “strange”…God knows every nook and cranny of it and has a design for it, because He is always purposeful)
“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 (this is all a purification process…one that is required in order to remove all the dross of sin that is in me…and He is aware of it all and with me all the way)
God’s word is alive and powerful. The power of the resurrection which we just recently celebrated is abundantly sufficient to route any and all of the effects of sin. All the pain, suffering, weakness, anxiety, frustration, tears…become empowerments when I humbly give them to Him.