Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mine is flared muscles. What's yours?

If you think you are the only one in the world with a problem, think again. No one is immune to having some struggle or suffering that they wish just weren't so. For some people it is relationship centered. Children, husbands, wives, friends...they all can be the source of great joy or great heartache. And sometimes both in rapid succession. Other people struggle with financial turmoil. A house payment that is too high, a job that pays too little and more collection calls than a man would care to count. Still others carry the weight of failure, the agony of defeat and the sorrow of unrealized dreams. And then others, like me, suffer from something physical. Cancer. Lung disease. Arthritis. Legs that don't work. An illusive diagnosis to a debilitating condition.
Or flared muscles.
Everyone has something. No one's life is pain free. Oh sure, we've all looked over the fence at our neighbors lawn or into the lives of Facebook friends and thought, "If only I had that life! If only I had their life of ease instead of my life of pain!" Be careful what you wish for, dear Facebook stalker. Because what looks like all butterflies and roses is really just a life with a different set of problems.
We can try to wish away our trouble. We can try to run from trials. We can try to trade our problems for a different set. But no matter how far and fast we run we will never escape pain. The discomfort we face in this life is part and parcel of being human and living in a fallen world.
You may be thinking to yourself that this sounds like a whole bunch of bad news. Gloom and doom with no happy ending. But the post isn't over. The story isn't done. Because God has a plan and a purpose for our pain and it doesn't include being relieved from it or swapping it out for a different model.
Our pains - your pain, my pain, your "my life is perfect, just look at my smiley pictures" friend on Facebook's pain - is our own specially designed source of joy, signed, sealed and delivered by God on high. Yes, that's right friend. God loves you so much that He gave you a pain to remember Him by so that you will never forget to rejoice.
....He gave you that disobedient son to remind you that you were a rebellious child, separated from God by your sin but that Jesus came and rescued you and reunited you to your Father!...God gave you that little, tiny bank account as a daily reminder that you can and should depend alone on God who is your Provider and Sustainer. You can count on God to know what you need and to see you through even the bleakest of financial seasons....God gave you that disease as a constant reminder that your body and flesh will fail but that won't be the end because you have an eternity to look forward to in Heaven. You have a God who cares so much for you that He has prepared a place for you where your body will be perfect, where doctors won't need to poke you with needles and blood cell counts won't count for anything....
...And God gave you that flared muscle to remind you with each tug and pull that paralyzes you from taking another step forward there is a pull greater than any force this world will ever know - it is the pull of God on your heart. He loves you. He desires to be with you. And He is pulling you towards Himself for now and forever more. He is pulling you in to depend on Him, rely on Him and rejoice in Him. Every step you take forward in physical discomfort you have a moment-by-moment reminder that you are united with Christ in His suffering and will one day be reunited with Him in His eternal glory.
We can rejoice. We can praise God. And we can remember to do so because we each have that persistent pain as a daily, constant reminder.
Don't ask God to take away your pain. Don't covet your friend's particular set of painful circumstances or physical maladies. Don't kid yourself into thinking that the grass is greener on the other side of someone's fence. It isn't. What they have may be different. Their pain may come in a different package, wrapped in a different bow. But that's not because it is less aggravating or somehow better. It was just designed specifically for them. And your pain is designed specifically for you. So rest in it and thank God for it. Because He made it especially for you, with your name on it and God's hand upon it.

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