The air was full of chatter and the smell of hot butter. It was a Sunday evening, the hall filled with fellowship, popcorn, and anticipation. My friend, Sherry, dressed in her green Celebrate Recovery t-shirt, stood at the microphone and without shame told a crowd full of people that she struggled with anxiety and depression.
You know what the people said? Hi, Sherry.
There was no judgment or gasps of unbelief. All I could feel the room feel was understanding.
I sat in the corner (munching on the popcorn) taking it all in. Another girl, about my age, stood up and shared her testimony. While her struggles were different from my own, I related to her story about being the oldest, desperate to be good. She was brave and I clapped along with the rest of the crowd when she finished her story.
As the lights dimmed the room, the movie began. The people in the room watched and related to the pain that was being portrayed on-screen. Pain that happens when the people we love hurt themselves and us is pain that penetrates the marrow of our souls. It is pain that can't be healed quickly or by self. It is pain that can only be healed by Jesus' love.
Right now, several people in my life are struggling with different kinds of pain. Some are from a mistake made by a family member, others are the side-effects of addiction. Yet others are experiencing physical pain and emotional pain of not getting what they so deeply desire.
Next week, I begin progesterone (hormone) shots to help prevent pre-term delivery. I will take one shot a week from 16 weeks to 38 weeks. For those of you that are bad at math like me, that's 22 weeks of shots.
To be honest, I'm rather scared of the pain.
But, I thank God that smart people have created shots to help me not go into labor early. I can't help but be hopeful for a full-term pregnancy and the chance to hold my baby after he or she is born instead of waiting a month. These shots are a way to help keep our baby safe and as a mama, what more could I ask for?
Still, the fear of pain is looming. How do we live the abundant life that God wants us to live while experiencing pain?
How, through the chemotherapy, do we wake up and say, "Today, I rejoice?"
How, through the worry, do we allow ourselves to hope for a brighter future?
How, through the addiction, do we get get to a place of healing and restoration?
The answers to these questions begin and end with Jesus.
Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
Again in Matthew we are told, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
Hebrews 2:18 tells us that "because he (Jesus) himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."
Friends, I'm not going to tell you that I completely understand why we have pain on this earth. It is so easy to ask God why he allows us to suffer. But, what I can tell you is this: our sufferings have the power to save us.
When we invite Jesus into our pain, we are admitting that we can't suffer alone. He saves the brokenhearted and those crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). First Peter 5:10 tells us that after we've suffered a little while, the God of all grace, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. Jesus is with us and God is for us. No pain can ever stop us from having the Holy Trinity on our side. With them, what shall we fear?
With God's strength, we are not overcome with the fear of pain. Instead, we become fearless warriors, filled with courage and strength unimaginable. We become brave enough to tell others of our struggles and not fear rejection or disapproval.
Pain is so often an internal struggle. But, when we open up: to one person or a small group or even a large crowd, we begin to see that we all struggle with some sort of pain.
Today, whatever pain that you might be feeling (or pain that you feel for someone else) take a moment and give it to God. Don't suffer alone or put on a brave face just because you feel like you have to. Admit that your pain is real and you can't go through it alone. Give God your fears, your worry, your addiction and allow him to work through you and turn this pain into good. Then, and only then, will you find joy through the suffering.
Question: How has God helped you through a physical, emotional, or addicting pain?
Till next time, let your light shine!