Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Power in Pain

I've been blessed recently to connect with a small group of women dealing with chronic pain. I have learned so much from them as we've discussed what God is teaching us about the power of pain.

I love the way that one pain sister expressed how she experiences God by walking at the beach: “the seemingly endless wild ocean before me never ceases to turn my inward spiritual gaze onto my all-powerful, all-knowing, always present, all good Father Who knows me and loves me and as soon as I connect with Him in that moment I feel the freedom of being His daughter and His beloved and I am at rest and I respond in praise no matter what I am going through. His goodness is everlasting and rich...There are layers of His goodness and glory that I don't think we are even able to reach without the experience of pain. There's no glory in resurrection without death and there's no victory without a battle. I don't understand it but I think I'm learning to accept and appreciate His ways more and more.”

Another sister said that she's learned power through surrender. We have to reach a place of surrender for healing to start.

Another choice we have is that we can see ourselves not as victims of the pain, but as victors. We always have the power to choose our response.

As a group we've discovered that one of the blessings we've gained through pain is empathy for others. One sister exclaimed, “It's our super power!” There's so much we would miss in our relationships with others if we didn't look at life through the lenses of pain. Each one of us has grown in the area of compassion.

We've talked about the stripping effect of pain. The rawness and vulnerability. And feeling of being alone. The desire to find ways to escape when dealing with pain that won't go away. And the challenge to find more healthy responses. Entering into the pain with the questions: Where are you God? What are you doing? What do you want me to let go of? To embrace in this moment?


Our group discussed the ways pain has affected our capacities. And the image of a fruit bowl came to mind: when a piece of fruit representing Pain comes in, a fruit labeled Capacity has to leave. When more Pain fruit comes in and takes over the bowl, it can feel like there's no Capacity fruit left at all. But we hold all this fruit in a beautiful bowl. And the bowl is not affected by how much Capacity fruit we can hold. It remains beautiful and its purpose is to Receive, to Hold, and to Give. Whatever we can do that day based on the pain limitations, we can choose to find reasons to be grateful.

1 Chronicles 4:10 records the prayer of Jabez who asked God for quite a lot: “'Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.' And God granted his request.” We can all relate to these longings, to be free from pain. To have an enlarged territory. But sometimes God answers in a different way. Can we thank Him because of the blessings that come with pain? Did Jabez actually miss out on some of those blessings because God granted his request and he was free from pain???

"There are layers of His goodness and glory that I don't think we are even able to reach without the experience of pain."

The Apostle Paul pleaded with God to remove his thorn in the flesh. And God chose not take it away. “But he said to me, 'My power is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.'” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Paul experienced God's power in new ways because he became a weak resting place. And God showed Himself strong through Paul's complete dependence on Him. He will do the same for us. As we rest in His power.

Today I read a beautiful poem by Becky Stephen about seeking God's power in the midst of pain:

Jesus, here I am,
all weakness and wishing for
Something more,
Something else,
Something better.
But without the power to bring it about.

Jesus, your grace is enough for
My painful situation,
My longings,
Me.
Apart from You I am nothing and have nothing.

Jesus, I am relying on You for
Perspective on pain,
Peace in pain,
Perseverance through pain.
May Your power rest upon me.


3 comments:

  1. Jodie, I am so grateful God gave you the itch to have a group around chronic pain and you scratched the itch. Thanks for the peek into what God is teaching you :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. or showing . . . maybe not so much teaching :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your encouragement Amy and for giving me the opportunity

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