Mundane Monday: Hope in Affliction

No Grit No Pearl Blog

Galatians 4:13

“But you know it was because of a physical illness that I first proclaimed the gospel to you.”


Being sick is no fun. I ought to know. Diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases, I have had to learn that delicate balance of trying not to do too much to push myself into a flare up but also challenging myself to live a full life.

Ironically, I have a very full plate and do not even like to look at all God has me doing. But there is a difference when it is not in fact you doing it, but Christ doing it through you.

As much as these illnesses have been a source of discouragement, they have also been my greatest joy. No, that was not a typo. How could infirmity and weakness be something that leads me to joy? It is because in those moments of pain and sorrow, I cried out. I drew nearer to my God and it flowed out into the formation of this blog and encouragement of others, as well as myself.

Paul wanted his “thorn in the flesh” removed, and so do we all, but he also recognized how God would use for the benefit of others what most look at as a handicap and a burden.

God does not look at things as we do. Where we see inconvenience God sees opportunity. Where we see pain God sees character and where we feel sorrow and burden, God wants to be our joy.

Sometimes I have wondered why God could not impart deep truths without the suffering. It would be a lot easier to write songs and sing them from a place of physical strength, I reasoned with the LORD. But perhaps living a perfectly comfortable life would not enable us to have the depth of understanding needed to go deeper.  God gets our attention with afflictions so we can remember what is really important and stay on mission.

A little pain causes us to either want to escape it or to give in to the pain and let it defeat us. It was not until I was hospitalized for 9 days with pneumonia that I realized this illness could be an opportunity to impact those around me more than a moment of self pity. The suffering was great, but my God was greater. My greatest triumph was rising from my bed to write the Scripture of the day on the dry erase board. My greatest joy was giving away the flowers given to me to everyone up and down my hall who had no gifts. My sweetest moment – fellowship with the LORD in that place and a nurse who rededicated her life to God. Character earned – hubby told me I had “true grit”.  🙂

Everything in this life is not about us. Surrendered to God in whatever curve the road takes us on, we begin to see that afflictions, blessings, joys, sorrows – all come through His hand with the purpose of more people knowing the goodness of the LORD at all times. The beauty formed in each vessel that allows the grit of life to work in them for God’s glory is irreplaceable and not found anywhere else.

We are not forgotten in times of affliction, no, instead we are remembered. Jesus understands. He walked that road of affliction first. 

Blog Singature

Worshipful Wednesday: The God Who Gives Rest

Rest

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Rest is necessary to be productive.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalm 23:1-3

1 “A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He takes me to lush pastures, he leads me to refreshing water. 3 He restores my strength. He leads me down the right paths for the sake of his reputation.”

Psalm 127:2

“It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.”

Those who suffer with autoimmune diseases know the drill well.  Awoken by sharp pain in the back of both sides of my head, my eyes hurt to open.  Carefully, I tried to ease into the day the best I can.  Trying to move through the suffering to a place of functioning, I contemplate how grateful I am for the times when I do not feel this bad.  But for now, I rest.

Rest.  That word that should be so welcoming, but not when there is work to do.  Until I realize that there is always work to do. Inconvenient interruption of suffering!   And yet, perhaps God brings pockets of rest when we need them most.

Today it was a stubborn migraine that would not dissipate, no matter what I tried.  I continued to work despite it, but the throbbing reminder was almost too much to bear.  It is in this place of pain that I cry out to my Abba Father and ask Him to grant me strength. He does me one better.  He offers me peace and makes me to lie down, basking in His love.

This is one of those weeks where there was too much on my plate, anyway.  I rose earlier to make sure I would get it all done, but today God canceled most of my commitments.  Kind of like a snow day when all of the obligations suddenly are postponed – only today it was the threat of tornadoes nearby.

As my children and I all huddled in the basement, I found myself in awe of God’s power and protection.  With a breath or a thought He can affect our world.  We have limits and our flesh speaks loudly when our frail bodies have reached them.  In humility, recognizing that I cannot do it all makes me rely on God and recognize my need for rest.

God is so good to help us momentarily step out of our busy little boxes and see our world the way God does.  Instead of seeing rest as inconvenient, we can create moments of rest as a priority and recognize the necessity of refueling to be able to finish the race he has marked out for us.

Lord, thank You for making me to lie down – even when I would not choose to.  You are not a God Who ruthlessly works us – You want to fellowship with us and give us a rest that restores our weary souls.

 

 

The Opportunity of Emotional Baggage

Photo Credits simplykashonna.com

Photo Credits
simplykashonna.com

Isaiah 7:2b

“They and their people were emotionally shaken, just as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.”         

Emotions are a funny thing.  One moment you can be full of joy and the next full of sorrow.  Ever felt overwhelmed by multiple circumstances all pounding you simultaneously?  Like a sledgehammer in the enemy’s hand, you are pounded down and discouraged.  Where was the faith you had yesterday?  It is in times like these that we have to take captive our emotions, which threaten to undo us.

The perceived lack of care from people around you can make the sting of pain more intense, making you feel boxed in with no means of escape from the oppression of hurt which has you bound.  The operative word is “can”.  God has given us emotions – we are meant to feel.  When we suffer emotional pain, the temptation is to want to escape that crucible of suffering – but how do you escape from the pain in your own mind?  This is perhaps what makes emotional pain so difficult to overcome.

I often try to guard myself from intense emotional pain, as it produces in my autoimmune system a physical response that is unpleasant and incapacitating.  But sometimes surprises come and you feel the full impact of sorrow.  I think God wants us to feel that pain, not avoid it.  Emotional pain can lead us to our Savior’s feet, surrendered and desperate before Him.  Hurt can, instead, be fuel for revival or self-absorbed pity parties.

Some pain is thrust upon us by others and some we presume in our own minds.  Taking captive thoughts that are not biblical is the first step toward emotional wholeness.  It is incredibly difficult to avoid fleshly thoughts of consolation, but doing so enables us to break out of the emotional bondage trying to enslave us.  The saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is actually not true.  Coming to the realization that everything is about God’s glory brings perspective that opens a door.  A door for us to walk away from life’s surprises and people’s words that can either become sin through bitter unforgiveness or a doorway to victory and emotional freedom from anyone’s judgment.  He has made us to be free, indeed – from emotional baggage, too.

Lord, we don’t like to be hurt or to suffer emotionally.  But You know what that feels like, too.  May we not resist the fruit of such suffering and glorify You in the midst. 

The Strength of Weakness

Photo credits www.prweb.com

Photo credits http://www.prweb.com

Galatians 4:13

“But you know it was because of a physical illness that I first proclaimed the gospel to you, and though my physical condition put you to the test, you did not despise or reject me.”

Weakness.  Despised by our culture and not something to be proud of.  Yet it was physical infirmity that first propelled Paul to share the Gospel with the Galatians.  Paul’s weakness is not known – perhaps the recent stoning he was subjected to, or a sickness of some sort.  Either way, it was an uncomfortable distraction that God used.  God had chosen to use weak vessels before.  He even came as an infant Himself – the most fragile state of humanity, in a crude rustic dwelling.  Why?  It does not make sense to our sophisticated culture or ways that God, Who is Almighty God and Creator, would allow Himself to be taken care of by weak humans.

But the wisdom of God confounds our supposed insight and ways.  It seems to me that Paul could have done even more for the kingdom of God if he were physically well, but then sometimes when we operate in our own strength we do not see our need of God and take for granted the health we do have.  Sickness humbles you and that is a gift in disguise.  Oh, I know, I sound so pious saying it is a gift – surely I cannot mean it.  But it is, in fact, in the midst of some of the most humbling health challenges that I have felt the closest to God.  Now that makes it all worth it.  Add to that being able to help another soul struggling along because you have been there – incomparable to having a perfect pain-free life. 

Oh, sure, it hurts, and sometimes I wonder why.  But the struggle is part of living – the highs and lows, the joys, triumphs and sorrows.  Where would I know the comfort of God if it were not for those precious moments of deep pain?   Oh, I could wish that I would not have to feel the throbbing sting of impertinent diseases, but I trust my Savior’s hand, and I know that I know He will never let a trial or a pain go unused for my good and His glory.  I find myself in a similar situation as Paul. God still births songs and devotions in my heart to share with people, and simultaneously I am battling physical battles, as well.  I am not sure if autoimmune diseases were around in Paul’s time, but whatever affliction Paul had, it was significant and it affected him.  His illness made sharing the Gospel harder, but it was also a catalyst for his mission and the growth of the church in Galatia.

Why does God allow in sickness, hardship, things which are a stigma in our culture?  The rain falls on the good and the bad.  Now, I am not calling myself good – God calls righteous those who are covered by the blood of His Son.  If unbelievers see the rain falling on Christians, who turn around and praise God while it is raining, doesn’t that provide a beautiful display of God’s grace in the fire?  So it’s raining right now, and I am choosing to sing in the rain.  My body hurts and it makes it harder to do normal things, but I will praise His Name and look for His deliverance!  If you feel like you cannot keep going on, lean harder on Jesus and know that He is able to grant you strength beyond what you could ever imagine.  You never know, you might even find yourself doing something crazy like thanking Him for the very thing you despised.

Jehovah Rapha, I thank You that You are my Healer.  You have healed me before and I look to You again as my Healer – spiritually and physically.  I thank you for this thorn in my flesh and pray that You are honored and glorified in it.  Please help those who are hurting and doubting Your goodness when life is challenging.  Give them Your hope and joy.