Recently, Byron spoke about how to handle pain and disappointment. He asked the age-old question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”…
I think we’ve all asked that question at some point.
As he spoke about changing our perspective when we’re faced with the trials of life, I started thinking about the “bad” things that have happened in my own life.
It seems easier sometimes to think of the negative things when we begin to list our most significant life-events. They just seem to be burned into our minds: abuse, the loss of a loved one, betrayal, financial disaster, a life-altering diagnosis…
These things just stick with us – and more than that, they change us.
As we face these situations that cause us to feel completely helpless, we often feel powerless…without choice or consent.
But the truth is that the more out of control life gets, the more we can choose what we will become.
Every time there is no human way to deal with something, the more supernatural power is at our fingertips!
We can see God more clearly when the fog of our human effort is wiped away.
There have been so many times in my life when I have felt helpless – too many to list.
When I had a mid-term miscarriage, it seemed like every one of my friends was pregnant and planning baby showers, I even drove a friend to the very doctor’s office where I had just been told that my own baby had no heartbeat. I wanted badly to be bitter…and I was for a while, but then I realized that my marriage was stronger because Byron & I had walked through something awful together, and I began to appreciate every moment with my two little girls.
But the biggest thing that the pain did was change my perspective toward others. I realized that I could never fully know the pain that someone else was experiencing just by looking at their life superficially.
Everyone has a story, and everyone is deeply loved by God.
So, two years ago when I was in a random car accident that caused severe injury to my spinal cord and gave me a concussion, again, I was faced with a choice. It reminded me again that you really can’t know how much pain someone is in when you look at their Instagram photos or you see their smile on Sunday!
But that accident also did something else…
It allowed me to find out – through several brain scans – that I have a brain tumor. Fortunately, it’s benign – unfortunately, it’s sitting on both my brain stem and my spinal cord and it’s growing aggressively…
So again I’m faced with choices…
This is where faith and reality collide.
I absolutely believe that God can just remove this tumor from my body and miraculously heal me from this and any other ailment or disease I may experience.
But in the meantime…
…the struggle always lies in the meantime.
The apostle Paul dealt with this struggle, and he wrote about it in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 –
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Although the “My grace is sufficient..” verse is the most often quoted, and it has become a life-verse for me, it’s really the verses that follow that stand out as I deal with the daily struggle of “in the meantime”…
Paul doesn’t just settle for a reluctant faith that he leans on because there’s nothing else to do. He speaks of true joy in recognizing his own weaknesses…
His pain has removed any doubt about the presence of God’s power in his life.
So that is where I am.
I am truly grateful for the tumor that has caused me to turn more fully to God’s grace in it’s sufficiency. I’m glad for a few reasons:
- I’m learning about tumors and cancer, and I’m learning to understand what it takes to keep my body healthy. (In another post, I’ll lay out my natural plan for dealing with tumors.)
- Yes, I have a brain tumor and all of the pain and uncertainty that comes with that, but I’m actually healthier than I’ve ever been because the tumor reminds me when I don’t take care of myself properly. (i.e.: Any sugar intake activates the tumor and causes swelling – it’s an awesome deterrent against eating junk food…let me tell you!)
- I’m reminded that life is precious and fragile and to appreciate every moment! For instance, the tumor seems to affect my eyesight, so I’m reminded to really stop and enjoy every beautiful flower or Florida sunset!
- I’m conscious of the fact that we’re not promised even one more day, so every day should be lived like it could be our last…embraced, enjoyed…lived fully! Each smile from one of my grandchildren or loving moment with my kids or Byron should be felt completely.
- Because pain is a constant, on some level, when I have a day that is good and I feel energetic, I can’t waste it! This really helps me with one of my constant struggles: procrastination!
- Things don’t have to BE perfect to FEEL perfect. Some of my favorite moments are when something just doesn’t go right and the whole family is laughing hysterically around the dinner table. Life can be perfectly imperfect…beautiful chaos!
- And most of all, I’m learning to understand Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians. I can be glad that life isn’t perfect, and I can speak openly and often about my own weaknesses because God is using them to make me more like Him and to show off His presence and power!
So, it’s not just words when I say I’m glad. I really am! This journey is just that…a journey, with twists and turns and every moment is valuable when I realize that…
The struggle really will lead me home!
Pain changes us…it always does, but we get to choose what we become – and that truly is something to be glad about!
Peace to you,