The Purpose of Pain

I feel lead to say a few things about pain in general. I have recently been reintroduced to the idea that we have pain in our lives only because of sin and if we live a  sin free life we will live a mostly pain free life. That if you have pain in your life you need re-examine how you are living and figure out where you are sinning and repent. That pain in and of itself is God’s way of telling you your sinning and you need to change.

Although I agree that some pain does directly come from sin, for example a painful divorce can come from adultery in the marriage, you get drunk you’ll have a hang over the next day and I concur that this kind of pain should be avoided, I in no way support the idea that by living a sin free life you will live a pain free life.

I can think of many examples in the Bible where someone has gone through a painful experience at no cause of their own. I believe that pain in and itself is a tool that God uses to test and grow us. When pain, in any form, spiritual, physical or emotional, comes into your life it is God’s way of calling us to attention. His way of drawing us closer to Him so we can learn more of Him. One of my favorite quotations form C. S. Lewis is from his book the Problem with Pain,

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain, it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

In the old testament the story of Job greatly illustrates my point. Job’s sufferings were not caused by any sin he committed. It is made quite clear in the first chapter starting in verse 13 that Satan was allowed to test Job. Job’s cattle, children, and health was taken from him. He suffered physical pain, grief, and financial pain.  His friends came and sat with him and his friend Eliphaz the Temanite made the above argument. He says in Job 4 verse 8-9 “As I have seen those who plow wickedness and those who sow trouble and harm harvest it. By the breath of God they perish and by the blast of His anger they are consumed.” Eliphaz is convinced that Job’s suffering is brought on by a sin he has committed.

Job knows he is righteous and he has to defend himself against all three of his friends and his wife. What I find interesting is what Marlo Schalesky says about Job in her book Wrestling with Wonder. “His friends, who have sat with him silently for seven days, are eager to offer their answers. For thirty-four long chapters they attempt to explain to Job why God has done this to him. And for thirty-four long chapters, Job knows their answers are wrong…But still like so many of us, he continues to cry out various poetic versions of “Good Grief, what did I do to deserve this? God, why is this happening to me?”  Schalesky points out next that God never answers Job’s question of why. Instead He spend the next 4 chapters describing who He is. God uses Job’s pain to draw him closer and allow him to discover the type of God we serve. Has he done that in your pain?

I’ve asked why a lot in the past two years, I blamed myself until my therapist told me something as simple as a sneeze could rupture your disc if it was compounded and not treated. I have come to solution that I did everything I could to get well when my back was sore. I could not have prevented my fall that caused my compressed disc. God knew way before I was born that this was going to happen. It was written in my story.  Did I make mistakes in the mist of the accident, yes but was it caused by sin in my life. I don’t think so. Just like when my friend had numerous miscarriages I knew it was not her fault. Like when my father had cancer I didn’t blame him. Hardships and pain come for everyone.

Jesus was a sinless being and yet he experienced a great deal of pain, and I’m not talking about just the cross. We know Joseph passed away sometime in his youth. That brings grief. He spent his childhood at refugee in Egypt in hiding. That brings the uncomfortable pain of fear. He caused pain too, to his parents at age 12 when he stayed behind at the temple instead of traveling home with them. For three days Mary and  Joseph searched for Jesus. The pain and fear of loosing your child.

In her book Wrestling with Wonder Schalesky poses the question “Would Jesus, who embodies the character of God in human form, ever intentionally cause us pain?” And I ask did he shy away from pain in his own life?  Schalesky goes on to say “He told his followers they would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood which distressed so many that “from this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” See John 6:66.  Jesus didn’t shy away from pain or stand in the way of it for others. He understood that sometimes walking through pain is what builds us up, pulls us closer to His father.

  Schaesky argues “When God causes us pain, its not an oops but rather an opportunity to encounter him more genuinely to see him for who he truly is.”

My final example is that of Paul. Paul suffered greatly once he became an apostle. Jailed, stoned, persecuted, shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake and imprisoned and he had an unknown thorn in his side. He also wrote the most profound letters about his pain. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8.

When asking God to take away the pain in his side. God never took the pain away he instead told Paul. “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Paul knew pain, and He rejoiced despite it, gladly boasted in it, and contently weathered it.  He reminds us that pain should never be a stopping point. A resting place. God has taken the uncomfortable to the devastating to and turned it into a tool that allows us to see who He is intimately.

So no blaming here. Where your pain is coming from is not really the point. Could you live a less painful life without sin, sure you could. But that is no guarantee.  If pain is fertilizer for your growth do you really want to live a life without it?  Allow the pain you feel to pull you closer to God not further away and in that pain you will discover who God really is.


Thankful for Improvement

In my last post I wrote about my surgery that I am still recovering from. After seeing the Doctor last Tuesday I was released to walk in the boot. I spent a week with a new freedom of being able to go to different rooms and down stairs. This past Tuesday I was given a further freedom as my bandages came off permanently and 11 of my 15 stitches were taken out.

The doctor put band-aids over the remaining four stitches and gave me a compression sock to wear. I am now able to wash my foot and shave my leg! Something I did gladly this morning. I still have to wear the boot when I walk but I’m hoping next week that will be gone too.

I think about how much I have learned to be grateful in this journey. I can remember in my college speech team years wearing the biggest blockiest heels I could find and walking around the college campus’s, too proud to put tennis shoes on between rounds. Now, wearing only tennis shoes for the past two years might be my penance, but the gratefulness I feel when I am able to walk again. The joy I receive when tired and hurting I had made it 3 miles on my birthday and 6 miles on vacation. The hope I have that as I heal I  will be able to walk further, drive further and feel more normal.

I am so grateful I will be able to walk normal again, even if its not today I know it will be soon.


Recovery, Pain in Healing

IMG-1093I had surgery on September 5. Today is September 16 and it is the first day I have been able to successfully sit at a computer and process it all. I was very afraid before the surgery of the after I am living in now. The day of the surgery is a blur but I remember God kept me calm on the way to the surgery. I started to panic once my IV was in and the doctor was kind enough to begin sedation before I became to upset.

Waking up from the surgery I cried, the nurse said it was the anesthesia but I remember the guilt I felt of not knowing the trial I was about to put my family through. That was 10 days ago and we have survived. My husband, David, has been wonderful caring for me and I have wonderful friends who have brought food, flowers and one who is willing to sit with me during the day so I’m not alone.

On my vision board there is a quote I cut out of a magazine, “Some battles are best fought with an army of friends.” and I feel like that is how this battle has been fought so far. I am so thankful for the friends and family God has surrounded me with.

It has been hard and a times stressful to sit in one place unable to get up and help, or solve a problem. I have a great understanding for someone who cannot get up and help, who is dependent on others to get around. It is hard to sit and face a feeling of helplessness even if it is just temporary. I am thankful I have a God I can pray to in those times and that he does solve the problems.

Tomorrow is my second doctor appointment and if all goes well I will be able to begin to walk on my foot with the help of a boot and crutches. Until now I have not been able to put weight on my foot. I’m praying all my stitches are still in tact and look good so that I can have this clearance. I have a rather large incision up my ankle and another between my big toe and second toe. Most of my pain is in my ankle although I do have nerve pain in my toes and foot at night right around bedtime.

The doctor said my nerve did not look good when he released it. He said most nerves are a shiny white, mine was a dull yellow and frayed in places. I refuse to be discouraged by this. I know my God can heal and now that the compression is off my nerves I am still asking for healing. Hopefully they will begin to slowly repair themselves.

A friend reminded me of a beautiful song my daughters danced to a few years ago at church. ” Beautiful things” by  Shane & Shane.  When I listened to it the first verse really got to me. I know God can take all this pain and make it into something beautiful in the end.

Being Invited to Trust More

I have a date for my surgery, its Thursday.  The apprehension and fear of 6 to 8 weeks in a black bulky boot are becoming reality. I realized at church yesterday that when I’m worrying and thinking through how I’m going to do certain things I’m really not trusting God. I realized that as scary and as hard as this is God is just asking me to trust Him a little more than I already do. He’s also asking me to trust my husband, my kids, my parents and my friends who have offered to help.

That verse in Proverbs chapter 3, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, ” is something I have not been doing well. I have been trying to understand. Understand how I’ll get up and down my stairs, Understand how I’ll take a shower and other things, instead of just trusting that at the end of 8 weeks I’ll be healed.

I’ve asked for healing for so very long. I believe God can heal me I just was wanting a divine intervention and didn’t expect it to come dressed in surgery gowns. Marlo Schalesky says in her book Wrestling with Wonder, “God is whispering in our year, If there was another way to get you to where you need to be, I would have taken it. This is the only path.”

So I’m going the only path to get to where God wants me to be. That gives me some comfort. That he planned a path for me, put experiences in my life to ready me and has given me a clear place to go. He is a good Father. What path are you on that seems hard to walk? Do you feel God asking you to trust him more? Share in the comments below.

And We Wait…

I Will Wait On You, Poem by Kelly Mallasch 

The line doesn’t move, the clock doesn’t tick 

time feels wasted and you stand shifting your weight from foot to foot. 

You have somewhere to be, things to do, places to be, problems to solve, kids to feed, but the line doesn’t move

You stand there, silently waiting. Shopping cart perfectly lined up for unloading

Waiting is hard. 

You wait in line, in traffic, at the store, on your kids, on your husband, on your life, on your promise…until the weight of waiting tires you out, weighs you down

And you still have to wait

Waiting is hard

Your divine appointment hasn’t arrived yet. Your still pregnant with the thought of something big, life changing. The conversations you had with your heavenly Father sound a redundant when.

When will things change? when will I step into my purpose?, when will I heal? when will my life have meaning?  When will they see the big picture? When will I not be alone? When will this line move?

It changes to please, 

please just change things, 

please just heal me, 

please just…move.

And you still have to wait

Waiting is hard

It didn’t rain for 3 years and 6 months. He came and crouched down on the earth, put his hand between his knees and prayed. He then sent his servant to climb to the top of the fertile plain and look. Nothing, He looked again. He saw a blue sky and the waves of the sea.

He looked again, no clouds, a beautiful blue horizon. 

Four more times he walked to the edge and looked at the waves, the blue empty sky, nothing.

On the seventh time he saw it. A small puff of white the size of his hand coming up over the waves. He ran to his master and in a little while the sky grew dark.

How many times will you have to look?

Scanning the surface of your reality hoping for a change, even small.

How long will you hope, expect, anticipate?

Will it be long enough?


But those who wait for the Lord 


 look for,

 and hope 

 will gain new strength and renew their power, they will lift up their wings and rise up close to God like eagles ,rising toward the sun.

They will run and not become weary,

 They will walk and not grow tired.

I will wait on you Lord.

I still don’t have a date set for my foot surgery. I have been waiting, rather impatiently for a phone call this past week. This is a new kind of waiting for me. That date is surrounded in fears but I don’t know when it is. I know when I’d like it to be, but as I have to wait longer and longer for it I begin to doubt that it will happen in time. My stress level has been very high this past week as my mind wants to think about all the what if’s surrounding my surgery. There has definitely been a battle going on in my mind to stay calm.

So what do you do to get your mind off the “what if” train? The worry train. That’s something I’ve been studying for a while now. I haven’t come up with the “right” answer just tons of little ideas that all seem to work temporarily. Joyce Meyers says to speak allowed promises of God. She says in her book “Power Thoughts” When you are fearful to say, “I will not live in fear”.  Prayer helps, telling God my worries and then saying, “Ok I’m giving them to you, its yours ,” works too. But I can only derail the train temporarily so It has been a battle for me this past week to stay hopeful.

God does give us instructions on what to do while were waiting. Psalm 130:5 says in the Amplified Version, I wait (patiently) for the Lord, my soul (expectantly) waits, and in his word I do hope.” That sounds like Meyers saying to put your hope in God’s promises to me.

Psalms 27:14 says to wait in confidence and”let your heart take courage, Yes wait for and confidently expect the Lord.”  Lamentations 3:26 encourages us to wait quietly for the Lord. James 5:7 says to wait patiently for the Lord.

I get this picture of an unmovable place in which we are meant to sit and wait. One where worry and anxiety does not phase us just a peaceful, still place. But while were waiting our hearts need to take courage Psalms 27:14 says. So that makes me think that God knew that waiting was hard and that in that waiting we would be so tempted to worry and to have anxiety. So maybe your still and quiet on the outside, unmovable in the belief that God will come but on the inside you are having to “take courage.” Maybe it takes more courage to sit and be patient then to try to figure out how to end the waiting.

Waiting is definitely a time of testing, at least it is for me. I hope its God’s way of growing me a little more so that I am ready when the surgery comes. Do you struggle with waiting? What are some of the things you do to stay patient in the waiting? Leave your comments below.

Another Stop on My Journey

“I found out last week I need to have surgery on my foot. ” I think I’ve said to a handful of people. The anxiety and fear around it hasn’t changed though. I have struggled with nerve pain in my foot since I ruptured my back and had surgery in May of 2017. I’m limited in how far I can walk and drive. I started seeing a podiatrist around the beginning of this year and the previous visit he mentioned the possibility of surgery, this last visit it became a reality.

The funny thing is how God has prepared me for this. In 2006 I began working in a podiatry office  check-in and check-out  patients and coding the appointments. Where I worked had a program where you could attend weekend classes and be trained on the job to be a podiatry medical assistant. By my second year there I was a podiatry medical assistant. I had my license to take x-rays. I trimmed nails, unwrapped legs, pulled stitches and even got to sit in on a few surgeries and observe.  Although I am not familiar with the type of surgery that I am going to endure I knew the basic in and outs of what I have experienced so far. I had seen it so many times in the 2 and half years I worked for the podiatry clinic. So when the injections were helping but not solving my problem I wasn’t surprised that the doctor I’m seeing began talking about surgery.

I’ll say it, I’m scared. I’m going to spend my first few weeks non-weight bearing in a boot. I know what that foot is going to look like when the bandages come off week two, I used to be the one to unwrap the bandages. I remember how miserable some people were after surgery. That’s going to be me. I’m walking through my past as the patient and its scary.

But God has put on my heart multiple times this past week and today. “God is God and I am not.” I’ve heard him say, and ” I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I truly do not have strength to do this alone but I’m trusting that when my surgery day comes He will give me the strength to walk through it with peace. The truth is God has ordained every thing that has happened in my life. Getting a job at a podiatry office was no accident. It did more than train me for the wonderful job I had for over 7 years at a pediatric doctors office. He was preparing me for this. He knew how scared I would be and that I would need to know what was coming so I could prepare.

My dear friend came over yesterday and we hobbled on my stairs with my crutches planning out how I’d get up and down the stairs and climbed in my bathtub to figure out how I’d take a shower. She was wonderful and the perfect person to help me because she had endured living in a boot for 8 weeks. I am so thankful for her and that she was able to calm my fears and help prepare me for what is ahead.

I have a lot to do, to get ready for this and I have to remember its not forever and God willing, I will walk better and be in far less pain once its all over. I can’t let fear stop me because I need to be physically better for the plans I know God has for me. He calls us to hard things but their good things too and in His strength we can do it. I hope this helps someone today. I hope you are reminded that you can do that hard thing if you ask God to help you.  Our worship pastor said something beautiful this weekend. He said “God loves you too much to leave you unchanged.” Change, growth these are hard things He calls us too, but they are also so good.

“But Perfect Love Drives Out Fear”

I’m working through a new type of fear as I’m sure all of you are too in the wake of a weekend of two mass shootings. It’s a fear that makes you want to stay in your house, with the door locked. Has you second guess every concert you want to attend, movie you want to see and now going to the local Walmart for groceries. I find this phrase go through my mind over and over this past weekend, “What brings a person to do that?” I mean I don’t understand how someone can wake up and begin to plan a mass shooting. Can plan to take so many lives. I really don’t.

Heartbroken is too small of a word for what I feel for all the families and friends of these victims and those who witnessed the shootings. I think there are no words big enough for such horrifying events as every shooting that has taken place and it seems to get worse and worse.  The “thank God its not me” approach is just not working because each time it seems to hit closer to home. The helpless attitude that is spreading throughout our country is growing and as my pastor said in prayer this Sunday our society has a ” heart condition that needs healing.” So today I’ve been mediating on this verse.

1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. NIV

Christians we are called to be salt and light. We can’t be paralyzed by this new fear or polarized by government propaganda. We can’t hate. We need to love each other and show love to each other. We need to commit to walk in love every day of our lives because we don’t know when and where were gonna meet someone who needs to feel love and right now there are more people in this country who need to feel it than who are carrying it.

So as we try to navigate this new kind of fear lets use it as jumping off point to be part of the solution and not the problem.  Lets walk out of our houses everyday showing love to everyone you meet. Because this life is too short and too precious to waste on anger or hate. I know I need to live like this because then at least I don’t feel helpless and the fear doesn’t win. I’m motivated to do something more than hug my family tighter. I don’t want to live in a world of fear, lets start changing it together.