I have spent the past two weeks in pain. I mean literal pain, the kind of pain that hurts, that is debilitating and feels like it will never end. The kind of pain that makes you feel sorry for yourself and compels others to feel sorry for you and secretly thankful that they are not you.
I spent a week at my dad’s home up in the mountains at the lake with my sister. We were starting the process of sorting through and reorganizing some our dad’s things and beginning the discussions between us and my stepmom about what to do with the house. That is really when my pain began.
It started in my heart as my grief over the loss of my dad moved into the forefront of my mind with the dreaded discussion of what to do with his house that has become my special place, my retreat, and my refuge. I could almost feel my heart bleed knowing that his wonderful house is going to become something different and likely belonging to someone different, sooner rather than later.
I am not entirely certain how I injured my back that week. We did do a lot of sorting through boxes and moving a few things around. I also played with my wonderful 18-month-old giant of a nephew. I am not kidding about the giant part. He weighs 30 lbs. and is the size of a 3-year-old.
Whatever it was that started the spasms in my back left me in sheer agony, hurting so bad that the only place I could find marginal relief was on my side or flat on my back in bed.
It left me with lots of time to think through and experience my pain. I became so consumed by it that I even looked up the definition of pain: suffering, distress or torment that presents physically, emotionally or both. Words used to describe pain are torture, misery, torment, ache, agony and anguish. That was me!
We have all experienced these emotions and my obvious conclusion is that pain stinks. Really, is there any other kind of pain? Before you stop reading because all I have done so far is complain, I want to share with you how God met me in the midst of one of my better pity parties to answer that question.
As I pondered all of these things, feeling horribly sorry for myself, daughter arrived. She lied down next to me and read to me as has been our custom all week. She was very careful about how she moved around me so as not to cause me greater pain. We read and talked and giggled and loved on each other. In the midst of my pain was beauty and God’s love poured over and through both of us as we spent that precious hour together.
It did not take my pain away, but it did bring me some relief, an opportunity to focus on something besides my suffering, distress, torment… you get the idea.
As I pulled open my bible later that night I was drawn to this passage written by Paul in 2 Corinthians:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Now, I am all about living in truth and the truth is I am a chicken when it comes to pain and discomfort. I don’t like it at all. As I said before, it stinks so I will not claim as boldly as Paul did by essentially saying “Bring it on and I will delight in it because that weakness makes me strong!”
However, I will claim the truth that we will all suffer from hardship, disappointment and all kinds of pain. I will also claim the truth that God’s grace is sufficient and He does meet us in the midst of our weakness, in the midst of our agony and torment. I saw God’s power and beauty through my daughter in that beautiful time that we shared and as I look back on the many challenging and painful times of my life, I can see Him there too.
Where ever you are in your life, God’s grace is sufficient for you and his power is made perfect in your weakness too! Seek His face, resonate in His word and you will find Him right there with you even if you have to look back to see Him.
Photo Credit: Heidi Lettau Photography