Sunday, June 4, 2017

PURSUED THROUGH PAIN

If you're reading this then that means you didn't give up on this post because of the title. Haha, awesome!  There are probably many though that thought, ugh, what a bummer topic. Stick with me…please ;) 

My son loves to make me cringe by using the worst grammar, intentionally, but since it fits so well here, I'll say this in his words, "Pain ain't fun!" Three weeks ago, our family was in a car accident. The pain of recovery has been real. Throw in moving, and you have a recipe for slow recovery, sleepless nights & PAIN. For the first week and a half, the cracked & bruised ribs woke me up often each night and most nights I found myself pacing the floors, praying for daylight. Some times those "worst times" can become the "best times" if you're open to it, and that's my story here. I'd love to say I always take that approach, but then I wouldn't be being honest with you. 

About two weeks after the accident, as I walked around our dimly lit house, several hours before the kids would even begin stirring, I realized that I had been able to have some of the best moments with Jesus in those 4a - 5a hours. I began looking at my pain in a different 'Light'. Father God had been using my pain to pursue me in those early morning hours. In accepting His pursuit, my focus shifted from the reason of my waking, to the purpose that it could be used to fulfill. 

The first part of Romans 8:26 says, "And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness". Pain brings weakness and an opportunity for help from our gift sent from Heaven, the Holy Spirit. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:19, "Perhaps you think we're saying these things just to defend ourselves. No, we tell you this as Christ's servants, and with God as our witness. Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you". I know for certain, that if we allow it, EVERYTHING submitted to Christ can and will be used to strengthen us!

There is great potential in pain. The first thing that pain does is slow us down, right?? If you're like me you immediately say, where's the potential in that? Whether it is physical pain, which can literally slow you down, or emotional pain, many things in life fall behind or often just have to pause because of the pain we are experiencing. Unfortunately, I get so caught up in life and on more than one occasion, I have had to go through something to grab my attention to slow down. At times, even force me to slow down. Pain can do that. Pain has done that in my life. It can also help us be more reflective, more sensitive & more appreciative. I believe that those traits are vital to a thriving walk with Christ, yet are so often the first things we let go of when the busy and crazy takes over. Pain will cause you to appreciate things you so often have taken for granted. It will help you be sensitive to the needs & hurts of others but also to what God is doing around you. 

My physical pain from the wreck brought about all of these things, but there was another time in my life when my pain was emotional. Pain from stress, from uncertainty, from worry, from exhaustion…today, June 4th, marks 7 years since Mark's heart bypass surgery and heart attack less than 12 hours after surgery. It was a time of great pain for me. Not physical, but deeply emotional. I was 27 years old, married less than 4 years, a mommy for less than 2 years, a mommy to be again for only a couple of weeks, financially uncertain woman whose life went upside down and inside out in a matter of minutes. Through it all, God pursued me. He used the pain I was experiencing to reach deep into my soul. To change me & show me a love that I had not yet fully experienced. 
 

Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Romans 8:31-39(NLT)

Don't skip over verse 31!  See how it says "wonderful things"?  I've learned that the first step in being pursued is to take the approach that is positive, even when the situation would suggest otherwise. Not living in denial, that doesn't open you up to anything. Instead, look for good to come from your situation! Expect it, plan for it, hope for it, pray for it!!

Whether you're in the midst of a time of pain or can go back in the memories of past pain and remember the depth of it, let these verses from Romans open your heart to being pursued by a loving Father that loves you more than you'll ever fully understand. So much so that He wants to take your pain and turn it into something beautiful. Like those "become of tree after you die" ads…have you seen them? Honestly, I can't take their slogans and ads, they're just weird! But the concept is the same as the truth of God's purpose in our pain…ashes to beauty, sorrow to rejoicing, tears to joy, Death to Life!  If you want it, purpose and even new life can grow from your pain! 

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