Walking Through the Pain

I’ve been walking through some significant pain this week – the kind of pain that just makes you want to up and quit altogether!  My legs ache with extra fluid, keeping me awake at night.

The pain started when I tried to push a little too hard with my workout routine.

Instead of my typical brisk walking, I thought I would jog in intervals, just for a few minutes at a time. I want to reach that goal-line so badly on this weight-loss journey, and picking up the pace seemed like a good idea at the time.

Even though my knees didn’t hurt at all while I was walk/jogging, the pain the next day made me unable to even walk up steps with my left knee at all.  Ever since, I’ve been walking through the pain but the injury has certainly slowed me down. Now I have to walk longer just to reach my Fitbit step goal, let alone get in extra mileage.

I’m fighting weight-loss discouragement.

I thought I was strong enough, but I became impatient and pushed a little too hard to reach my goals.

I ran ahead in the journey, so to speak.

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We often walk through pain in life, not just physical pain, but emotional and spiritual pain, also. In fact, the Word tells us to expect it!

 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you..” 1 Peter 4:12

Yes, that’s often how it feels at first, isn’t it – a strange thing? We’re walking down the path of life and suddenly an insurmountable obstacle stands in our way!

And because we dislike pain, we try to rush the process in order to escape the difficulty. We want a quick fix! Amen? :)

Or perhaps in our attempt to rush, we start pretending that there is no pain – there is no problem. We deny the truth of where we stand in our journey because we so desperately want to be further along in the process. We don’t want to keep persevering. Instead, we want to be able to say, “I have overcome!”

So we buy into the lie.

We hide our heads in the sand; we put on our rose colored glasses and call sin and self-reliance “okay.” We convince ourselves that we’re okay, they’re okay, it’s okay – whatever the situation might be.

Walking Through Pain, persevereing, weight-loss journey, trials in life, walking through a painful trial, suffering, keeping our eyes on Jesus in the midst of trial, waiting on the Lord

But often the fix isn’t quick. Often the lesson drags out and pain is prolonged.

Sometimes the best way forward is to take a step back, to slow down long enough to build some real spiritual muscle.

When we deceive ourselves into believing we are further ahead than we really are in our current trial, we step into dangerous territory. We open ourselves to injury or to trickery on behalf of the Enemy. The best way for him to ensnare us is to convince us that the way ahead is clear, is it not? To keep us from crying out to our Father for rescue?

The trick is not to be defeated by the pain, but to persevere in spite of it. Not to be deceived by sin nature nor the Enemy, but to humble ourselves before the Lord and allow Him to lift us up in the proper time.

“…but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” 1 Peter 4:13

We must slow down enough to build the muscle, but not enough to the point of quitting altogether.

We must be truthful about where we are at, so that we can look to our Savior for the grace and strength to get where we want to be. Wait for the Lord to signal “full steam ahead!”

We may not get “there” as quickly as we’d like to. We may take two steps forward and one back, but we will reach our destination eventually as long as we stay focused on the Sustainer of Life!

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

My sisters in Christ, let’s be content with the pace the Father sets for us. Let’s not rush ahead of the lesson. Let’s not grow weary in doing good nor grow discouraged by setbacks. Instead, let’s persevere in this journey.

Run that race.

Walk that race.

Whatever your pace may be,

Keep pressing on!

Jen :)

Sharing with: Grace and Truth, A Look at the Book

Broken Yet Not Destroyed

It’s time for Five Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo Baker at www.lisajobaker.com, when we write for five minutes (more or less) on a one-word prompt that she gives us.  No planning, no editing, no stress; just words.

 

This week’s word: Broken

He didn’t have a chance really.

A divorce early on, a father who left.

A mother forced to work way too much, and siblings who despised him.

Innocence stolen.

He was broken almost from the beginning.

She didn’t have a chance really.

Used and abused by those who are supposed to nurture.

Sold at a price way too cheap for a soul.

Years of love poured out, yet not strong enough to overcome.

She was broken almost from the beginning.

They didn’t have a chance really.

Two broken souls finding solace in one another’s embrace.

Trying to do what’s right for all the wrong reasons.

Saying “I do’s” with no foundation to build on.

A marriage broken almost from the beginning.

It didn’t have a chance really.

Knit together in its mother’s womb.

Ensconced in warm liquid.

A single choice made.

Its life broken even before the beginning.

Broken is everywhere.

Need is everywhere.

Despair is everywhere.

Pain is everywhere.

Grief is everywhere.

Evil is everywhere.

But what they don’t yet understand: God is everywhere.

And what they need to hear: they,

they are broken, but not destroyed.

Because He,

He gave them a chance.

Born in a stable, despised and rejected.

Trading Kingly rights for human weakness,

He became the need,

He became the despair,

He became the pain,

He became the grief,

He became the evil.

His body broken and poured out.

By His wounds they are healed.

Image

Go tell the Broken,

That they may receive Life.

*Disclaimer: I’ve received so many lovely comments from visitors about the ability to write this in just five minutes. However, this week’s post took more than five minutes total.  The first half literally poured out, but I struggled with the ending.  It was just so dark and so hopeless that I felt overwhelmed by burden for the people I thought of as I typed out the words.  So, I took a break to talk to the Lord and came back to it after He reminded me that He was broken, too, and for that reason alone, the darkness isn’t the end of the story!  I broke the five minute friday time-limit rules, but I kept them in spirit. Yes, there is grace for five-minute-friday writers, too. :)

If you’ve never tried your hand at a Five Minute Friday, why not start now?  This week we’re linking up at Lisa-Jo’s facebook page because yesterday her blog was Broken. ;)  https://www.facebook.com/lisajobaker

Jen :)

Faithful Friend or Critical Chrisitan ~ A Word on Chronic Suffering

I have a soft spot for those who struggle with chronic health issues, those who experience chronic suffering.

Just recently, I had yet another bout with sinusitis and was reminded once again how much I dislike being ill. I have a medical history complicated by allergies and asthma along with an immune system that just doesn’t work well and never has.

Truthfully, the ONLY positive medical rarity I’ve experienced in life thus far is giving birth to twins! :)

While my medical issues pale in comparison to so many others, I struggle often enough to understand some of what it feels like to battle chronic medical conditions.

I understand that chronic sufferers often feel lonely because illness keeps them at home in isolation.

I understand the judgment sometimes felt from uncaring medical professionals, unsympathetic friends, and even gossipers who relate physical health to spiritual health.

I understand the weariness of facing yet another day of pain with no end in sight.

I understand total helplessness.

Over the years, I’ve heard people say some pretty harsh things about our sisters in Christ with chronic conditions, and I’m very ashamed to admit I’ve even had these same thoughts on occasion:

They’re just depressed. They need to get help.

They obviously can’t handle pain well, so they exaggerate their symptoms.

All they do is complain!

They are not living a healthy lifestyle. If they would just eat right, exercise, etc. then they would feel better.

They are not disciplined enough. They should just do what’s right in spite of how they feel.

They’re not trusting God enough.

While all of these statements have the potential to be at least partially true in many cases, they come across as self-righteous.

Is that a little harsh?

Perhaps.

However, such self-righteous thoughts or even voiced opinions do nothing to uplift or encourage that sister in Christ who is so lonely, so overwhelmed, so discouraged, so needy.

Consider these excerpts from Job, who suffered for the glory of the Lord.

Job 12
4 “I have become a laughingstock to my friends,
though I called on God and he answered—
a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless!
5 Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune
as the fate of those whose feet are slipping…

16 Then Job replied:
2 “I have heard many things like these;
you are miserable comforters, all of you!
3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?
4 I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.
5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief…

19 Then Job replied:
2 “How long will you torment me
and crush me with words?
3 Ten times now you have reproached me;
shamelessly you attack me.
4 If it is true that I have gone astray,
my error remains my concern alone…

Job was “blameless and upright”; he had done nothing to deserve his suffering, and he continued to turn to the Lord throughout. Yet, how did his religious friends respond? They criticized him. They questioned his faith.

When he needed them most, Job’s friends failed him. How sad that they missed the opportunity to demonstrate brotherly love to Job!

As sisters in Christ, we are called to minister to those in need! Even if those suffering are not as blameless as Job, we are responsible to love them through the difficult times.

I know from experience that suffering from a medical condition can make a person pretty needy, and sometimes we grow weary of giving to someone who cannot give back. Trust me; I’ve been on that side of the coin, too.

As Job said, “Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune…”

How quickly we forget the depth of the dark when we are bathing in the light.

I’m guilty of it myself.

So, how can we avoid being unsympathetic know-it-alls like Job’s friends?

Chronic suffering is hard for many to understand because they haven't experienced it. How can we encourage those who suffer rather than condemning them? Read here for 4 Ways to Comfort a Sufferer

 

1. Check your attitude. Don’t condemn or condescend; show compassion instead. You cannot possibly know how difficult your sister’s life is unless you’ve been there yourself. Try to remember a time in your life when you suffered great physical pain or discomfort. Now imagine dealing with that on a daily basis with no end in sight! “Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another….” Eph. 4:32

2. Remember that dealing with medical issues can be scary and lonely, especially when an issue lacks a confirmed diagnosis. Doctors are not always correct and sometimes they lack the medical knowledge or the compassion to find answers patients need. Just because a person does not yet have a diagnosis does not mean “it’s all in the head.” Remind them that you will remain a faithful friend.

3. Before you offer advice to your suffering sister, consider your relationship with her. Are you close enough to her to have all of the facts, or have you made assumptions based on partial information? Have you first spent time in earnest prayer for her? Do you have a strong enough relationship that she will be able to hear you in love without being wounded by your words?

4. Be the Body of Christ! Offer an encouraging word, send a card or note to let her know you are thinking of and praying for her! Additionally, offer some practical help – making a meal, providing child care, cleaning the house, running an errand, even giving financially to help with medical bills in the case of severe illness. Don’t say, “If you need help, let me know.” Instead say, “I want to help by _________. When is a good day or time?” A specific offer of help is much more difficult to turn down. :)

On the other hand, if you, my sister in Christ, struggle with chronic medical issues, remember that you are not alone and that God IS in control, even when it doesn’t feel like it.    The Word can be a tremendous source of encouragement during such trials.

Do you know someone who suffers from chronic health issues? Are you a faithful friend to them or a critical Christian?  Read here for 4 Ways to Comfort a Sufferer!

 

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

We don’t always understand His ways, His reasons, for allowing trials in our lives, but we can trust in His compassion for us.

Hebrews 4:15-16

“ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Jesus suffered. He suffered physically, emotionally, even mentally in his life as a human on earth. He was betrayed by friends and rejected (albeit briefly) by His own father. He suffered horribly and then He died. If anyone can understand your pain, He can!

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

Over the years, I have learned that God often uses illness to get my attention, to bring me back to that place where I am totally reliant on Him because my physical body has failed me.

I don’t always know or understand why God allows such frequent illness, but I am secure in the fact that He only allows things into my life that He can work for good (Rom. 8:28). I hope you find that same comfort!

So as we go about our week, let’s remember those in our circles who are hurting. I challenge you to put a little time and effort into encouraging a suffering sister in Christ this week!

Who’s with me?

Jen :)

What great ideas or verses do you have for encouraging our suffering sisters?

If you know someone who is struggling spiritually rather than physically, here’s an excellent article on that issue:

http://lori-benotweary.blogspot.com/2013/06/when-someone-you-love-is-struggling.html

Sharing with: Grace and Truth