Saturday, April 29, 2017

Don’t Touch My Pain

wound-106374_1920Spring weather has arrived and with it many afternoons spent playing outdoors. With five children, I always have the Band-Aids close by. There is always a scraped knee or scratched elbow from running, climbing trees, or riding bikes. Recently there have been a plethora of ticks also, so we have to carefully check for them and remove them to prevent disease.

With each scraped knee, splinter, or tick, my kiddos cry out for help and relief from the pain. I reach for the peroxide and the Neosporin, but they pull back away from me. They are afraid of the sting which I know will clean their wound and ensure that infection is kept at bay. The sting is just for a moment, but without it the pain of infection will be worse and longer lasting. But my kids don’t understand that.

Even though I coax and whisper sweetly that it will be alright, sometimes they don’t trust me enough to care for their wound. I know the pain will stop in a moment, but they only know the certainty of the sting and pain of the cleaners and cream.  They want me to fix it, but they don’t want me to touch it.

As I repeat this several times each week, I can’t help but notice the similarity to my own life. I experience a trial or difficulty and I cry out in pain for God to stop it, to heal my wound, to make it all better. I grip my bleeding, painful heart and scream that I can’t handle the pain. I plead with Him to help me, ,to remove the pain, and to wipe away my tears. And yet, when He comes to me with healing hands, I shrink back from what He is doing, afraid of any more sting and unwilling to have Him touch my open wound. The pain has blinded me. I don’t realize that He is working and purifying my life. I don’t feel His touch as tender because I can’t get my mind off the sting. I don’t see that He is preventing the infection of sin and worldliness because I only feel the fresh pain of the open wound or the tweezers removing the splinter.

Pain is purifying. It removes the dross. It cleanses away the weakness. It makes us stronger. It is not pleasant and I hate the feel of it. Sometimes I shrink away from what I know He must do in order to restore wholeness and holiness to my life, because it just hurts so much. But I must let the Great Physician work. He can see the wound with eyes that grasp the whole picture, not just the moment of pain. He knows the best medicine, and His skillful hands perform surgery with the highest success rating.  He is using this pain for my good.

Even in my pain, I must trust Him to touch. He can heal. He can hold me and bear the pain with me. He knows best.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Day in the Life of Jesus

Pacific City, OregonRecently I have been reading through the Gospels, particularly to watch and see the suffering and trials that Jesus endured while on earth in a human body.  The Scripture tells us that He was tempted in all points like we are, but I know sometimes I feel like I am the only one going through _______________.  Sometimes I even wonder if the Lord knows how I feel or what I am struggling with.

In Matthew 14, we get a glimpse into the daily schedule in Jesus’ public ministry.  It makes me weary just thinking of it, and it helps me know that He understands when I feel like life is swirling out of control and I am weary to the bone.

This chapter begins with Jesus learning that His cousin, and His ministry partner, John the Baptist, has been executed in prison.  Jesus immediately departs for a “desert place”.  I can imagine He wanted to be alone.  To mourn.  To process what had just happened.  Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in everything going on around me, and I can’t quite get a grasp on it because more and more keeps flying my way.  I need to take a break and have some silence.

However, Jesus doesn’t get the silence or the quiet time to pray or talk to God.  The multitudes of people follow Him, and He spends the entire day healing them and teaching them.  When evening comes, His disciples implore Him to send the people away so they can buy food.  But Jesus takes His ministry a step further and feeds the people.  He expends yet more energy to perform a miracle, provide the meal, and clean up the leftovers. 

Jesus instructs His disciples to get in a boat and go while He sends the people away.  Have you ever seen a stadium after the crowd has disappeared?  What a mess is left behind!  Or entertained another family for dinner, and after they go you don’t have energy to wash the dishes?  But I don’t imagine Jesus left the hillside a mess.

Finally, Jesus will get His quiet prayer time.  I sometimes get to the end of my days with five little people and realize I didn’t have time to pray or study my Bible that day.  I’ve been trying to make place for it all day long, but it constantly gets crowded out by the needs of others around me.

Jesus gets to His quiet place, and then He sees that the disciples are struggling in the middle of a great storm.  So He goes to their aid.  My Bible says it was the fourth watch of the night, which I understand to be 3-6 a.m.  As a mom, sometimes I cannot wait for bedtime.  I finally close my eyes in exhaustion, and the baby cries in the night.  Even far into the night Jesus hasn’t had much time to Himself or to rest or to “recharge His batteries.” 

The Lord comes to His disciples walking on the water to still their storm, but they scream in terror and assume He is an evil spirit.  No faith to believe Him or to trust that He would come to their aid.  They panic.  Were they even praying for His help?  Were they looking for His rescuing hand?

Peter musters the faith to walk on the water to go to Jesus.  But in his distraction he begins to sink, and Jesus must perform yet another task – rescuing Peter from drowning, and then stilling the storm.

The weary men finally arrive at the other side of the sea.  But the sleepy town is waking up in the wee hours of the morning, and they hear that Jesus has come.  So they bring to Jesus all the diseased people to be healed.  And so begins a new day in the ministry of Jesus.

I am not putting myself on the same level as Jesus, but I am realizing in new ways that He has experienced the same things I am experiencing.  He has walked in my shoes.  And in dependence on the Holy Spirit, He was victorious and had a successful ministry.  In His strength, I can minister to the needs of my family and others around me today, though I be weary, and though I didn’t get much time to pray, and though the demands never seem to cease.  Even though the baby had me up half the night and I never got to prepare mentally for a new day.  Jesus is there.  Am I like the disciples, of little faith,  not really expecting Him to come to my aid at all?  Or do I have faith to walk this road with Him by my side, knowing He has already traveled the road before and knows its final end?