I think anyone who has lived in continual pain or discomfort for any period will agree that remaining hopeful is difficult. Our hope can be as erratic as sun and clouds – one minute shining, the next hidden. One minute our eyes are fixed in faith on a light at the end of the tunnel, then the next we feel as if we’ve been wandering around in darkness forever with no chance of ever getting out.
As I mentioned in my previous post, September – Half a Nutshell, I’ve been struggling with reoccurring pain. As I also mentioned in that post, especially in late September, God spoke to me and comforted me about this and renewed my hope. I began to think maybe it would lift soon.
Then October started, and I mentally watched another month start to disappear under more discomfort. This past week has been very difficult, not only physically – but mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I have been in pain. I think anyone who has struggled with reoccurring illness or pain will understand what I’m saying.
Last night, I was getting completely overwhelmed. What bothers me even more than pain is not being useful, not being able to accomplish anything. I have been very limited in what I’ve been doing lately. I was panicked as I considered how I was going to lose and waste even more time to this pain.
And then I realized an amazingly simple truth. I had known it before, but the Holy Spirit made it new in my heart.
Time spent in humble prayer cannot be wasted time.
At the end of my life, or perhaps in that brief moment before He “wipes away every tear,” I will not be wishing I had worked more, written more, traveled more – no –
I’ll wish that I had prayed more.
I felt as if a boulder had been rolled off my shoulders. My biggest fear was alleviated. I was so overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude that life was not “passing me by.” I didn’t have to look upon it as months of my life, a quarter of 2017, wasted and spent doing nothing.
If I prayed in detail for every family member, every extended family member, every friend and friend of friend, our nation, the War on Terror, the persecuted Church, the Body of Christ – not to mention whatever the Holy Spirit might bring to me through the gift of tongues – if I pray in detail for all of this, I could fill every minute of the day – I can be quite busy – in my spirit.
I believe, with everything in me, that C.S Lewis was correct in saying that we know Him a little here so that we might know Him there better. I believe our walk here will be a direct parallel with how well we know Him in Heaven, how close we are to Him. And I want to be close, so very close.
So even though pain does not come from the Lord – this time where I am unable to do my normal work can be an amazing gift to me. I haven’t had something taken from me, He has given time back to me; time to draw close to Him, time to grow in Him, time to listen.
The Scriptures tell us to offer up the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15).
Praising God for a good day, health, or something we wanted coming to pass is easy; praising Him in hard times is not so easy, that’s why the Bible calls it a sacrifice. I think that praise offered to God at these times is not only sweeter to Him, but it is like medicine for us – an antioxidant for life and all its sin and hardness.
But when a truth really reaches me, when He whispers a reality into my ear so clearly, praise comes easily to me.
As it began to flow out of me, peace began to flow in. I went into the bathroom and just stood there saying over and over again: “You’re so beautiful,” tears streaming down my face as I thought about Him instead of myself.
How easy it was to switch tracks and turn the train. In a few moments I went from crying about me, to weeping over Him.
I had known He was with me and yet, I felt alone. But suddenly I felt Him, as clearly as I felt my own skin.
Have you ever had the Holy Spirit suddenly overcome you? It’s the most amazing, exhilarating and comforting feeling in the world and it’s almost always when you least expect it. It’s like the love of your life suddenly swept through the door to surprise you.
This last month and a half, I felt like a woman walking endlessly up and down the beach with a metal detector, always looking for gold but making do with dimes until suddenly, without warning, she finds buried treasure.
I get so wrapped up in asking the Great Physician for results, I forget who He is. As I stood there, overwhelmed by Him, not by what He’s done and can do, I began to sing two songs under my breath, “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful,” and “I Stand In Awe Of You.”
If you truly slow down and contemplate the words to I Stand In Awe Of You, it says He is TOO wonderful. How can anything be too wonderful? Too marvelous for words? Only Him. He is TOO BIG to fit into those small, finite words. He is beyond us, beyond everything.
Most Christians, when they are thanking God, thank Him for what He has done (dying for us, living for us) and we absolutely, categorically should praise Him without ceasing for this.
But will we praise Him just for who He is? Just because He is worthy of praise? Not because of ANYTHING He has done, but because of His character? Because He is so beautiful, so perfect, so terrible, so amazing, that we simply want to gaze at Him and worship – and not ask for or expect anything – including salvation – because we are overwhelmed with awe?
At 3 am on a Sunday morning, I was filled with peace and joy – I returned to bed almost bursting, smiling, tears still flowing. I laid down to sleep in peace, because I have looked upon someone that makes me and this world shrivel away. I was an artist looking at something so beautiful, no one can ever capture it, because it is Beauty Himself. He is everything I am not, He is God – He is everything I’ve been searching for all my life.
This is a hard life and God can’t or won’t always “kiss it and make it better.” And yet . . . He does kiss me (in His own way) – He shares intimate love with my soul . . . and yes, He does make me better day by day.
Wednesday through Friday, I spent time fasting certain things, entreating God for guidance on this situation – on what was causing it and if there was something I needed to change. Saturday morning I was frustrated, because there didn’t seem to be any clear answer.
But after any time seeking God, if you are open and truly seeking, if you are fasting and looking to Him, some clarity will come, if we are open to receiving an answer that might not be the one we were seeking because we “ask with the wrong motives.”
Some of you know that reoccurring pain is a constant battle. The war is not won once – it ebbs and flows – one battle after another, good days and bad.
But today, I have chosen it to be a good day – and my prayer this Sunday is about Him. I don’t know what’s going to attack me tomorrow, or even this evening – but right now, this is my prayer.
O Lord Please Light The Fire
That Once Burned Bright And Clear
Replace The Lamp Of My First Love
That Burns With Holy Fear
Praise God for the cup of mercy in hard times. At least for today: “He has restored to me the joy of my salvation.” Psalm 51:12
In every inspirational photograph I’ve ever seen – you always see the person in a particular pose, head up, arms wide.
Look up, lift up your eyes, peel your arms away from your heart and open your arms wide. Let your mouth praise Him – not because of His promises, not because of what you want or need from Him, but because of who He is.
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. Psalm 81:10
If you have entered a season in your life with more time than usual on your hands – pray and ask Him how you should pray. There’s not a moment to lose.