Every day I am in pain but some days are worse than others. Today was a really high pain day because there was an incident that occurred when I was walking the dogs. A loose dog came after Max and Marci. My daughter held Marci and continued onward but this loose dog kept after Max and he wasn’t too keen on this new acquaintance. Somehow I got my hand twisted inside his harness and the more movement from Max meant my hand was being squeezed until it could not be squeezed anymore. Finally someone nearby made a grab for the loose dog and my hand was free. It was a great feeling to have my hand free—but the pain has been lingering ever since. That was my bad hand already; I’m not sure what to call it now.
On days like these, days when the pain brings tears to my eyes, I cling to God’s Word. You can page through your Bible and read about people suffering, about people in pain, about people in anguish. This morning I turned to Psalm 73. But as you page through God’s Word, you also read about His promises. Psalm 91 says “’If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,’ says God, ‘I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!’” (v.14-16 MSG)
I am very blessed. Each day, I am grateful for another day—another opportunity to serve. I know there’s a purpose. I know He has a great plan. I know that one day I won’t have to wear braces on my knees, ankles, or anywhere else. I won’t walk with a limp. Things will be different for me and for you. No more pain. No more tears. No more struggles. Think about the party God is going to throw. Yes, there will be a day—oh what a day!
“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.”
Psalm 73:25-28 [NASB]
I’ve been having a lot of shoulder pain for the past few months. It started to be very bothersome and interrupt my activities of daily living. Someone who knows a thing or two about shoulders has told me I have a weak shoulder. Yes, a weak shoulder. I never thought it could be possible—that I could have a weak shoulder—as I am always active. The problem is the particular area doesn’t do the work as other muscles and it has become too weak to support itself.
So now I am in a lot of pain and lately I find myself with eyes filled with tears as I try to sleep. I find myself having to do exercises to work out the weak area. This therapy is painful. This therapy can be draining or overwhelming. This therapy is necessary.
As God chips away at us, helping to mold us into we are meant to be, we might feel some pain. Change requires loss. We grieve. We drag our feet. We don’t understand. To move along with God and walk alongside Him doing our part, we find ourselves making adjustments to our lives to make room for Him and that can appear overwhelming. We say things like, “I have to wake up earlier so I can get my morning devotion read or it won’t get done” We find ourselves stepping out in faith in small and big ways. Turning down jobs. Traveling to unfamiliar areas. Changing direction. But just as I need this therapy to strengthen my muscle again, so we need God’s Word, His direction, His prodding. I pray today you allow yourself to be molded by our Maker, rejoicing as you trust His perfect plan. Praise Him. Trust Him. Embrace Him. Dig into His Word—not just here and there, but every day. Take it with you. Write it down. Remember it. Cherish it. Eat it. Speak it. Love it. No one who trust God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.
“With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: ‘God has set everything right between him and me!’ Scripture reassures us, ‘No one who trusts God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.’” – Romans 10:10-11 [MSG]
There is something that I hear and read too often – My life sucks. Sometimes it really can be frustrating to hear these words, especially from the mouths of Christians. Usually it is not something that is said once, but it is a way of life for some people. Perhaps the person believes he or she is the only one who has problems, trials, and hardships. Perhaps the person is not happy because he or she is not getting what’s desired. Either way, it is like nails on a chalkboard to hear those words.
Since sin entered the equation many, many years ago, everyone has hardships and struggles and pain. It is not how God intended the world, but we made a choice. Jesus has defeated death and through Him we overcome; however, trials and suffering still occur here on earth. I could list many of my personal struggles, and people who know me well can see them just by watching me walk, but it is not about that at all. When people see me and know of my struggles, they don’t hear that my life sucks—they hear that Jesus is taking care of me, helping me through each and every day. They see my testimony without me opening my mouth.
Does your life suck? Are things not going the way you intended? Do you have limited funds? Do you hate your job? Do you have relationship problems? Are you struggling through life? I am sure you have a lot on your plate. We all do. But remember, each day is a blessing—each day is a gift from God. You can walk through life complaining about each day, being ungrateful for the gift or you can ask God to use you, to strengthen you, to be a part of your life and things will be very different. I might have pain this morning as I write this, but I have a joy and peace that only Jesus can give. My life does not suck. No matter how bad it gets, no matter what challenges and hardships come my way, each day is another opportunity, another gift. Each morning I thank Him for giving me another chance. What will you do with your opportunity today?
“The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” – Psalm 29:11 [NIV]
“This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24 [NLT]
This past week was a difficult one for me. My routine was missing in action. Sleep escaped me. My level of pain was at its highest. We were relocating. I was working every day, all day. It was draining.
I was standing at work in pain, tired and dreading the end of my shift when I would return home to move more stuff to the new place. I asked a friend if she had some hard candy like a Lifesaver, because my throat was dry. Little did I know, a customer was listening to the conversation. As I finished with his order, he handed me the Lifesavers. I argued that it was against policy to accept things from customers. He then said he would leave them sit for me, that it was his policy to be nice. Jokingly, the lady behind him said she liked Three Musketeers. I was amazed as I spied him picking up yet another small gift to bring another smile around.
My day was not going well. I was exhausted and found myself on the verge of tears, nearly falling asleep standing, and wearing more braces than ever before because my body was feeling the week’s work. Then here came this fellow who became a lifesaver for a moment. His attitude and generosity had a great impact on me and the other customer. One small gesture had a ripple effect. It was a great reminder of our great Lifesaver. The gentleman paid attention to those around him and took action. It did not cost him a lot of money. It did not cost him a lot of time. This reminds me of something Mother Teresa said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” – 1 John 4:7 [MSG]
As I was driving home from work, the sky looked scary. A storm was nearby and the sky was gray up ahead and promised a nasty storm. There was a rain shower that quickly passed. I drove toward the gray area after a long day at work. Third Day’s song “Lift Up Your Face” was playing on the radio. I was in pain and only wanted to get home and put my feet up.
I turned the corner and listened closely to the song lyrics: “Lift up your face / Salvation is calling.” I looked up and before me was this beautiful rainbow. I considered what the rainbow symbolized and remembered His promises. I thought of a day He promised where I would feel no pain—when things would be different. I considered His love- His salvation- His mercy – His forgiveness. I started to feel a lot better.
Today lift up your face. Focus on God. Remind yourself of His promises to you—His Word—His mercy—His love. Remind yourself that He makes all things new. Remind yourself that things will not always be like this—He has promised us restoration.
“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” – Proverbs 4:25 [ESV]
We all have moments when we are not at our best—moments we would like to erase from our memory. The other day I had one of those moments. I could make excuses and say I was run down, tired, in pain and all of them are true; however, there was a way around the mess that arose. Sadly we so often make that mental note after the fact.
The problems that arose involved three big factors—two that I already mentioned. Firstly, I was in pain. Secondly, I was tired. Pain and exhaustion cause us to react differently than we usually act. You are more sensitive, less patient, more irritable. Thirdly, I had things bottled up. A few weeks prior, things had occurred that I did not get to yet discuss so they were still sitting there in the pot. Oh what a pot that boiled over that evening.
Yes, we all have the moments. Thankfully I have a lot less of them. Today, remember to address things right away. Don’t bottle things up so they can boil over later. Be sure to get the rest your body needs. If you are in pain or distress, address that as well. Don’t leave any room for the devil to stir up a boiling pot so it boils over.
“It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” – Psalm 127:2 [NLT]
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32 [NLT]
In 2 Kings 5, Naaman, army commander & leper went to Elisha for healing of the leprosy. Verse 11 says he “went away angry.” He thought that things would be different. Elisha did not come out. Elisha told him to go to the Jordan River and wash 7 times when other rivers were considered better. The servants then said if the prophet Elisha would have told Naaman to do “SOME GREAT THING” his response would have been different.
Sometimes we come before God with our problems, our hurts, our dissatisfaction, our pain, our troubles– and we think that He will act in a particular way and do “some great thing.” As we know, our thoughts and ways are not like God’s thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8). Even so, we can trust in His plan– it is a better plan. It is not some great thing. It is simply amazing, beyond our comprehension. Walk in faith. Trust in Him. He will do more than some great thing. Don’t try to limit God by not allowing Him to move.
The other night my children and I sat down to watch “The Looney Tunes” on television. The episode showed Porky Pig and Daffy Duck attending a seminar, “Spread Those Wings and Fly,” which seemed to depict something similar to the many self-help programs that are so easily found throughout the country. The seminar provided Daffy with motivational CD’s to listen to and DVD’s to watch, each one giving him the motivation to learn to fly. When he followed what the program said, taking it a bit too literally, he found that he wasn’t a very good pilot or cut out for the job of a flight attendant. The program caused nothing but frustration to him and to those around him. I think by the end of the show, he no longer had the desire to learn to fly, as ironic as it may sound.
As funny as the cartoon was for the children and I, part of me could not help but think of the many people who attempt to find fulfillment in life by following the “wisdom” shared with these self-help programs. Sadly people spend a lot of money trying to be happier, more prosperous, a better leader, healthier, etc., and yet we are offered a great resource to help us be all that we were created to be without any installment plans. We even can contact the One who is behind it all, the One who created us, and seek Him for the answers we need through His Word and through prayer.
I know life is hard. Life is full of struggles, pain, and obstacles. Life is not easy, but having a personal relationship with God makes it not seem so difficult. No program can help you to see your worth like God can. No program can help you to reach your full potential like God can. No twelve steps, no quick fix, no infomercial, no newly released material can give you what you need like God can. We can be like Daffy, aiming to learn to fly from some program that will leave us frustrated and moving to something else or we can chose to look to God to fill the void we have in life, and seek Him to help us to reach our true purpose—His purpose for our life. Seek Him, and everything else will come. It’s not a quick fix, but it is a true remedy and the only way for find joy.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:33 [NLT]
I love taking my dog for a walk. It’s great exercise for the both of us, and it gives me a chance to take a break from everything. Yesterday I invited my children to partake in the adventure. They were having fun racing each other to the next tree and playing games along the way. I started to notice that the peacefulness of my walk was absent. Then something else happened. I had a misstep and ended up having a fall.
It seemed as if I was trying my hardest to hit every body part possible as I landed. The worst of the contact was made when my knee hit the ground. Instant bleeding and swelling. The children were asking if I had a first aid kit stowed away in my pockets; I was wondering how I was going to get back home. It was a slow walk back.
Still this morning I am in a lot of pain and finding it difficult to move my knee much. Walking has become a chore. I realized through this all, how lucky I am to be able to walk. I have my limbs. I have a nice, safe area to walk. I have the time to walk. I have sneakers to use to walk comfortably. I have healthy enough to walk. These are things I don’t think about very often. In overlooking them, I neglect to give proper thanks to Him who provided all things.
We all get busy and we do not look at the things we take for granted. We expect them to be there, because they always are there. We do not consider how life would be if they were not there, because that surely would never happen. Today, as we give thanks to our Lord who showers us with blessings, may we be able to see what we have overlooked. May we thank Him for the big things and the little things, the provisions He alone provides.
“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness,
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.”
– Psalm 100 [NASB]