I preach from a chair, lately. It’s not what I want. It’s not what I anticipated. But, it is my recent reality.
I am a pastor. A teacher of the Word of God. One, among many, who have given their lives to the inspiration and building up of others for real life. In such a vocation, one imagines a life unhindered and always favored. But, I have come face to face with the harsh reality that bad things do happen to good people, and there isn’t always an immediate reply from heaven.
I have been in pain every day for the last 4 months. For some unknown reason, my gut decided to rebel against me, and it no longer is happy moving food through its system. Weakness and fatigue have been a state of being. In my distress, like most people, questions have arisen to challenge my belief. There’s, of course, “Why me?” But on a more guttural level, and more difficult question, “Where is God in it all? Where are His promises?”
I have never faced a more difficult trial in my life. You can’t escape your body. There’s no where to run and not face the pain.
But, in the midst of my despair…truth arose. Life is not the absence of pain, but the revelation of oneself through the trial. If I have heard God in anyway through my current season, He made it clear to me that I am not the only one in pain. In a moment, when I was crying out to God for relief, a conviction in my spirit rose up. God said, “Others are in pain also.” Intuitively, I knew what my Lord meant. My suffering is sharing in the distress of others…of all humans. Like Jesus, “who was the first born among many brothers and sisters,” God has given us all a sharing in the suffering of others so that we might love like Him.
Everyone experiences pain. Whether it be for a day, a month, or even years, it challenges us and calls us to be more than we are. It reaches into the core of our being and draws out of us more than we desire to give, but it must finish its work in us so that we can be made “complete, not lacking anything” for the days ahead.
Truly, I have learned in a new way that God’s presence is not only felt in moments of ecstasy, but in the stillness of the night where hope is our only solace and our true blanket of security. This is real hope…that Jesus’ resurrection gives meaning to life…that God’s presence is always with me…that God’s love will always heal no matter what I’m experiencing.
Does God work miracles, today? He absolutely does! I have seen ears open, cancer healed, and eyes opened. But this message is not about that.
In the western world, we do not have a good theology of suffering. So, when it happens, we get blind sided, and wonder where all the promises of God have gone. Throughout history, people of faith have tried to circumvent these moments where we are made more perfect; but I am discovering they are necessary. Please understand, though, God does not give us disease, nor does He wish evil on anyone! God is good, and loves all the time. But since the fall of humanity, evil has been forced into the system, and so we will experience trials of all kinds. But in the midst of our battles, God’s love becomes more manifest. His light becomes brighter. In it all, we get to choose our transformation—to become agents of His love and light in a world where darkness abounds.
Allow me the joy of speaking strength into your heart. If you are suffering, you are not alone. We are all in this together. God is with you, and He will journey with you. The Lord is not far; He lives within you. Allow His voice to be louder than all others within you. Believe Him, and He will strengthen you until “Victory!” becomes your testimony.
So…let’s keep praying for one another until we become the men and woman God envisioned from the beginning—those that are truly healed, both now and for all eternity.!
I love you all!