Posts Categorized: pain

I Have Never Been Stranded on Mars, but if I were . . .

“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem and you solve the next one, and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.” –Mark Watney (The Martian)

I have had a multitude of troubles thrown my way, but I can honestly say, I have never been stranded on Mars. In the early days after Jonathan’s death a friend asked, “How are you doing this? How are you able to function?”

My answer, “I’m not.”

I knew several things almost instantly the day Jonathan died.

  1. This was hell on earth.
  2. I could not stand in this furnace alone.
  3. I would grieve with hope.

Galatians 2:20I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

I live, because Christ lives. The more I am crucified with Christ, my fleshly desire to have Jonathan alive dies. So many of us do not get over losing our children because it is a way of keeping them alive in our minds. God does not say, “Just get over it.” He mourns with us! At the same time he invites us to the realization that God will be glorified. We cannot stare longingly at the grave of our past and expect to resurrect what is not within God’s will. We must keep our eyes fixed upon the cross if we want to live.

I wrestle with this aspect of God’s character, but I also know he did not spare his own son. When Jesus started talking to the followers about “eating his flesh”, many walked away. (John 6:53) This is a hard teaching! Will I leave Jesus because I cannot fully get my mind around what he is asking of me? No! Who else in this world has changed my life. Who else has loved me like you? You are the Christ and my salvation is in you alone.

I am finding that the cross is the juxtaposition of Christ! Opposites collide on the cross– life and death, pain and pleasure, law and grace, sin and holiness, shame and glory. On the cross Jesus understands, both my deepest sorrow, and the heights of his fathers glory. And as I die my spirit is revealed more and more. I pray that I too, one day, can fully state. “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” I don’t have to scramble, alone, to solve enough problems to get home. Christ already solved them for me on the cross. I’m already home!

 

Betrayed by the body

Lamentations:320Surely my soul remembers And is bowed down within me. 21This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 22The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.…

Matthew 26:38Then He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.”

 

Sometimes our body betrays our attempts at escaping depression. Chronic pain, chronic insomnia, chronic stress all break down our body. In other words, our body comes into agreement with depression. So when we begin to change our thinking and our actions the body doesn’t always respond, sometimes because of physical illness it will never be able to respond and at times it out and out rebels.

I often joke that I’m so used to chaos that panic ensues when I experience something normal. Anyone who has ever had an addiction can attest to the war between the body and new habits. Caffeine withdraw can cause headaches, because our body becomes used to caffeine and craves it. Our body can crave depression.

Don’t lose heart when the body doesn’t respond to hope or new habits of acting in faith. Keep forming new ways of thinking, interact with humanity because it IS the right thing to do, not because it feels right. Do what is good, even if the body betrays you.

Perseverance: The “Hooah!” of Christian Discipleship

Romans 5: 3Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

My sciatic nerve is damaged. I have had pain every single day for the past eight years and it would be weird if one day the pain was suddenly gone. I have learned to adjust how I sit, stand and move to keep the pain at a tolerable level.  My grandfather, on the other hand, burnt his foot because his nerve receptors were destroyed and he didn’t know he had stepped on hot coals. Which would you rather?

Losing Jonathan hurts worse then any other pain I have experienced. I could try to avoid it, many do, or I can allow it to teach me perseverance. Some translations use the word endurance, but I see perseverance as the “Hooah!” of Christian discipleship. Perseverance comes from the gut of our spirit, and is an outward acknowledgment that I hear, understand, and obey the will of the Lord. When I persevere I am allowing God to draw out my character, which makes the impossible possible (hope) and displays God’s glory. At my core is the knowledge that God will not fail me.

Many of us endure trials, but not many allow those sufferings to complete the work in us so that we are not lacking anything (James 1).  That is what my suffering has the potential to do. Jonathan death motivates me to speak boldly on the behalf of others, to be aware of depression and suicide in a way that I never have before, and to seek the face of God every day. I know the pain will not always be this severe. But until that moment comes the pain is necessary and teaches me the discipline of perseverance. Hooah!!

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