When pain comes, moving through it by faith is a legitimate mindset that believes God is Sovereign and has our back, which I truly believe he is and does. Yet, feeling trapped and stumbling through events and processes seems to be a new norm of living out my relationship with Christ that I think needs more conversation. No, I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s spiritual parade, but trusting God with, in and through our pain is a battle of trying to figure out how He is for us and not against us. At least on an emotional level it is for me these days.
Things and attitudes can change quickly depending on the type of pain, the intensity of pain and the length of pain that we’ve been suffering. Let me explain.
Many of you know that my wife, Judy, has been dealing with Lymphoma and then four weeks ago she took a fall down our Condo stairs.
I’d become a caregiver. Her pain becomes my pain, even though my pain is nowhere near Judy’s pain. Then there’s the fear of loss, especially if what a loved one suffers is life threatening. That fear could grip and choke me no matter who I am in the faith, or how old I am in the faith.
Then there are times of pain where I’m reduced to one simple issue. I’m sorry to say it, but I can be as twisted as anyone when it comes.
After taking a break in caregiving two weeks ago, I took a bike ride. I love riding my bike to relax. I have a three-mile loop I do that passes a golf course. Granted, my mind was on Judy. I was reflective and praying for her while riding past that course. Then it happened.
I wiped out!
It was like in slow motion. I knew I was going down and did everything I could to limit the damage to my bike and me. Now here comes the twisted part.
It was a hard fall. I was bruised and in pain. Strangely, I immediately bounced back up on the cart path of that course. I didn’t wait to see if I had broken a leg, arm or if I cracked my hipbone.
Then, I shouted to God after making the assessment I was okay, although hurting.
“What the heck (and I used the word heck people) is that all about? Angry about the pain my wife was going through. Angry about the uncertainty in all of it. Trying to stay positive and helpful, I let God have it. “I don’t need this pain (from wiping out on a bike). I’ve already got a load of it,” knowing God could read my mind.
My question implied my wipe out on the bike was God’s fault. Immediately I knew I was into twisted thinking, and it hit me with humor.
In my mind’s eye, I could see and hear God or the cloud He was in, speaking to me.
“Jerry (in a soft, gentle voice that had a smile attached to it) I wasn’t the one riding the bike.” Then sheepishly, I smiled.
Yes, this wipe out was on me and not him, even though I still don’t know how it happened.
I couldn’t believe how quickly I went to a deeper angry place of entitlement and took a victim stance with God. After years of being in ministry, teaching the bible, counseling others, the pain of wiping out on that bike brought me to a moment where I question if God was for me. Clearly he is. The Cross of Christ demonstrates that. The resurrection proves that. And there are so many times in the past where Judy and I have experienced God’s faithfulness that the memories alone would settle the question.
But the truth is that PAIN has to be negotiated every time it comes to us until we see Jesus. We never arrive at the place where we can say “No problem.” And then I began to understand how pain is not something that is against me. My body yes, but not me.
Wiping out on that bike brought me to an intimate moment with Him. Working as a caregiver and being concerned for how Judy is suffering doesn’t call for putting on appearances with God. We can be real and intimate with each other and Him. And, I can even experience anger at myself for causing my own pain and still be good with Jesus.
I gave up my demand to feel good and be in control. Rather than trying to spend my time escaping pain, I chose to embrace it. Like C.S. Lewis once said in the movie Shadowlands, “The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.”
Hope is clearly there in the resurrection of Jesus. Until we see him, CS Lewis’ thought makes sense to me.
I don’t say this lightly but “On to the next day!”