There is no growth without pain.
God reminded me of this truth again this past Saturday night. A fiery, throbbing sciatica flare up made an unfriendly and extended visit to my right thigh, rendering that leg about as useful as a cane. I could not put any pressure on the leg and felt like a peg-legged pirate dragging the miserable thing along as I walked. The pain was so intense that I could not sleep and was whimpering like a wounded animal, causing Mike and I to consider an expensive out-of-pocket trip to the emergency room of our local hospital.
Didn’t God know that I had no time for pain? I was scheduled to share about the sanctity of human life at church Sunday morning and after that, had a full day of ministry ahead of me. What was God thinking?
It dawned on me that Satan was trying to take me out. I was not going down without a fight, so we prayed for healing, I loaded up on pain medication, got ready and went to church. I was not disappointed but the devil was. Instead, I was blessed by:
- Art’s insightful teaching from the book of Numbers;
- Shawn and the worship team’s song set which was loaded with my favorites and lifted me up;
- Don Hansen’s moving song about abortion from a father’s perspective;
- Many in my church family who expressed compassion for my suffering and prayed for me; and
- Dan’s sermon from the book of Job, reminding me that my temporary sciatica pain could not compare with the suffering of Job, who lost absolutely everything and everyone, including his health and his family, and yet still praised the Lord.
God does not want our inner peace and joy to rise and fall with our feelings, the balance in our checking account, or even with the level of our physical, relational or emotional pain. Life is a storm. There will be pain and it will suck. While we all want to enjoy pain-free living until the moment we die, that is not how life works.
God allows adversity and uncertainty in our lives to test our faith, to remind us of our need for him and to conform us to his image. It’s not that he doesn’t care about our temporary happiness. It is just that, like a good father, he cares more about our best interest. We only see our horizon, but God sees our eternity, far beyond where heaven meets earth.
We will not grow stronger, more resilient and reliant on God if we do not face adversity. For it is in the midst of suffering that we are forced to trust in Him alone for deliverance and where we finally understand that He is sovereign over all our circumstances and will use them for our good and His glory.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Job 13:15
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Lord, thank you for using my sciatica suffering to bend my knees, bow my head, lift my eyes and raise my hands in praise and gratitude to you for all that you have done for me. Help us to remain joyful in our trials, not because they are so much fun, but because we are confident in the fact that you will use them for our good and growth in you. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen!