Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Purpose of Pain

I have realized this week that we often have a disjointed view of pain.  When pain causes me to pull my hand back from further injury from a flame, or a sharp object, or a moving object scraping away my skin, I view pain as a good thing.  I appreciate the warning that the pain is to me in removing my hand from the place where further injury could occur.

When a pain causes us to go to the doctor and get checked out, so that the doctor finds the underlying cause of the pain and fixes something that could have caused our body a great deal of harm.  While we do not enjoy the pain, we can appreciate the purpose it has served in our body.

Pain is God's way of telling us that there is something wrong.  For those who suffer from chronic pain, it would be easy to say "Enough!," but the truth remains that the pain tells us that there is something wrong. 

Our view of pain becomes disjointed when we move away from the physical realm.  Pain in relationships.  Pain from people, pain in losing something we care about.  These things aren't physical pain, although the pain caused can affect us physically.  When we move into this realm, we more often than not view the pain as the problem.  We seek to remove the pain.  Someone has hurt me, I will not give them that opportunity again  so we shut them out.  We have lost someone we love, so we purpose not to love that deeply again.  We take offense at something someone says to us, and we view them as the problem. 

If we carry over our lesson from physical pain, could it be that we often look to solve our pain by fixing other people?  Why is that?  Could it be that emotional pain in our hearts and minds is more indicative of something wrong in us?  Why do I take offense at gossip shared about me?  Because I have pride in who I am, or in what I've done, and it hurts my pride.  Certainly the gossip is wrong, and should be fixed, but is it possible that the pain is pointing to a part of myself that also needs to get fixed?  If we dealt with the pain from that perspective, it will free us up to forgive as God desires us to. 

I don't know if I've been as clear as the thoughts seem to be in my mind, today, but I hope I've encouraged you to view emotional pain in a different light.  As a symptom of pride in some form in our lives that needs to be dealt with.  When we count up the wrongs against us in our minds, it forms a blockade in our hearts against forgiveness, but when we take ourselves out of the picture, remove the pride that tells us that we deserve better treatment than we got, we'll be free to live without pain, and with forgiving hearts.

Why deal with pride?  because:
"He must increase,
but I must decrease" 
John 3:30

Thursday, May 13, 2010

God is Good

It almost feels silly to title a blog entry that "God is good."  Of course He is good, basically, the whole point of my blog is to comment on situations in life and show God's goodness and how God shows his love and mercy and grace in all of life's circumstances.  Many things over the past few weeks have been piling up to declare God's goodness, and I wanted to share some of them.

God promises to provide for our needs.  We know that, but normally we like to figure out how it will all work out.  I'm a budget guy, I like to see it in my budget, figure out how to make the budget work, and stick to it.  The problem is, 6 growing children has made it harder and harder to stick to our budget in the food and clothing categories.  Not the end of the world, I assure you, but still something that was beginning to weigh on my mind.  Garage sales had come up short the last two summers, the garden hasn't been as productive in the freezing and canning areas, so we were beginning to feel a pinch.

A couple of weeks ago, I began more earnestly praying for God to provide our needs.  At times it feels selfish, because we already have so much, but I knew that God wants us to call out to him and trust his provision.  Strange things have been happening ever since.  We had a windfall of clothing finds at the first set of garage sales of the season, on top of a friend offering to buy things we needed at garage sales.  So much for the clothing budget pinch.  We continue to pray that God would provide for those needs, but less worried about how.  That's up to God.

Last week, I got a check in the mail from the NY labor dept.  It said that I had been underpaid at a previous job over 6 years ago, and the check was what was owed me by my previous employer.  Not a significant check, but a reminder that God has more resources to meet our needs than we know about.

This week, we were the beneficiaries of some leftover food from a wedding reception.  I had just told the church on Sunday that it is strange to pray for our daily bread when we know where it is already - whether we have the loaves on the counter, or have the flour to make bread in the cupboard.  But there, in the pile of food that was given to us, were 36 rolls to go with the sliced roast beef.  Truth was, I didn't know where my daily bread was coming from, and God had to remind me.  It comes from him.

These are the highlights, but by no means the total of God's blessings over the past few weeks.  I could tell of God working to neutralize gossip and false witness in the church and town, of God working in a families lives to grow and challenge them in Gods Word, of answers to prayer on many fronts.  Sometimes we focus on the struggles and the challenges, but today, I wanted to focus on the blessings.  God is good!

Praise ye the LORD. 
O give thanks unto the LORD; 
for he is good: 
for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 106:1