Saturday, March 15, 2014

Part 3 Do You Have a Good Story?

We've discussed personal pain on this blog in the last couple weeks, starting with this post, and then this post.

Today we'll discuss whether God heals pain completely. Our discussion will include the pain of loss and the pain of rejection/betrayal/abuse.

I can honestly say the Lord completely healed the pain of my two miscarriages (21 weeks in 2000, and 10 weeks in 2005). Tears can still flow when I think of the memories at the hospital, the funeral home, the mountain-top gravesite. But the tears are fleeting and infrequent, after 14 years. Following both miscarriages, I had healthy babies. Had that not been the case, the pain would have continued, I am sure. He healed me by filling my arms again, but he could have chosen to allow barrenness in my life.

Sometimes, loss is incomprehensible. A couple years ago I read about a Christian woman with nine children who lost her relatively young husband in a tornado. And I know there are lonely widows and widowers out there who had no one with flesh on to fill the hours of solitude, after a 50-something spouse's death. That means a possible 20 to 45 years alone, depending on the surviving spouse's health.

The pain of loss can be excruciating, especially when the hole is never refilled...if no baby ever comes, if no new spouse appears on the horizon.

Sometimes, God asks us to be alone and that's a horrible feeling. People come to the funeral, but week by week they call less, visit less, and get swept up by their own lives, their own pain. The grieving person is left alone, wondering how long God will allow it.

What about the pain of rejection or betrayal or abuse, which can be especially devastating when inflicted by people who are supposed to deeply love us--like a parent, spouse or sibling. Does God fill the holes left by such pain?

Do strong Christians deal with ongoing pain from rejection, betrayal, abuse, loss, or barrenness? It's easy to say that God can fill our emotional holes and be our spouse or our parent, but there are many people hurting, despite their allegiance to Christ. Are they not praying the right prayers? Are they stubbornly clinging to victim-hood, as though it were a badge to be proud of? Why can't they get better, completely, if Christ is sufficient?

Is Christ really sufficient? Can his presence erase pain?

Yes and no. He's sufficient when we are in his presence, through Bible reading, prayer, or quiet contemplation of his glory and faithfulness. When we go to his throne of grace with our troubles, he makes us whole.

But devotional time doesn't last forever. We can't be in his presence all day long, although with practice, we can walk with him in our minds in the midst of our daily duties. But no one can perfect this. No one walks with him 24 hours a day.

We can only conclude that in this life we will have trouble, and God will comfort us. His presence will fill us and even at times, overfill us.

But the complete healing? The healing that erases our pain? It's called Heaven. Heaven is our inheritance, our wholeness, our complete transformation. We are pilgrims, just passing through here.

Let's now consider the concept of redemption, in regards to our pain. God redeems our pain--beauty from ashes--making it shine His glory. Redeemed pain serves a holy purpose, for it points hearts toward Him. He assures that it does. Our redeemed pain exalts Him. We are bought and paid for..slaves to Christ. This means it isn't about us, but about his glory. He can use us as pawns in his plan, and it's okay. He is a just God--something we accept by faith.

For didn't we deserve eternal suffering, and aren't we instead looking forward to Heaven? Salvation is unspeakably generous. It is enough.

So, our pain is redeemed. It is eclipsed by His glory. But the complete healing? I say again, that's Heaven. If healing were complete here, why would we look forward to heaven?

It will always hurt me that I had to reject my mother because she couldn't get out of the cycle of drinking. It will always hurt me that my speaking the truth from a young age meant that I was the hated one (though it was a disguised hate). I must live with the knowledge that I broke her heart--a choice I made for my own health, because of her history of poor choices. It stinks that I had no choice. It stinks that when my heart aches for a truly loving mother, there is no replacement, other than the Lord himself during my quiet times with Him.

I must daily choose to give thanks for the generous blessings God has bestowed on me and my family. I must daily choose to walk with Christ--to set aside my busyness and give him my time. When I fail to make that time for Him, I am the most brokenhearted. So you see? We have a choice as to how much pain we carry daily, but we will never be completely healed until our last day, when we enter through the glorious gates of Heaven.

We have now the Holy Spirit, who is the down payment on our eternal inheritance.

Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.

We look forward...not behind.
We give thanks...not succumbing to bitterness.

We praise Him...not questioning Him.

We enter into His presence...not looking elsewhere for a filling.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

1 Corinthians 2:7-9 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,”What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Psalm 103:2-4 "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,"

Speak to me. Does entering into His presence heal you for a time, as you wait for your complete transformation on the last day? 

Close your eyes.
Get quiet.
Open your eyes.
Read Scripture.
Close your eyes.
Pray again.
Sit quietly, letting Him speak life into your soul.

4 comments: said...

'We have now the Holy Spirit, who is the down payment on our eternal inheritance.' I like that!

I also like the way you wrote about how you feel about your mother. It does stink. I can't imagine what it is like to not put your children first. I just can't. But I am so, so glad that you have become who you have - beauty from ashes, by grace. I know you go through this same battle/transformation every day, just as I do. Slowly, the pain is less, the barbs don't sting as much, or for as long (I think false guilt is one of the strongest of the enemy's barbs) And when I enter into His presence it is just like that old hymn 'O still small voice of calm'. It's like learning to breathe after years of drowning. I'm not glad that you have suffered like this - it's inexcusable what you have been through, but I am glad that you understand, as I do, the sweetness of redemption. I could go on and on, but I shan't because this is your blog, not mine! I am praying for you and your family Sandy x

Christine said...

Write as much as you want, always, dear friend.I don't have it hard compared to so many others. It's just sad.

Tesha Papik said...

I read this a few days ago but just now having time to respond. I love the way that your posts always make me think! For me there have been different seasons of hurt and of healing. There have been times when I am alienated from my mother and feel very sad and alone to not have a mother. Especially when so many of my friends have wonderful Christian mothers. At times the sting of rejection from my childhood Will come but it other times I feel completely healed from it.

I have learned about myself that I'm especially sensitive to death therefore some of my greatest struggles have been people passing away. (this could be because my safe haven in childhood was my grandparents, and I feared them dying)
Sometimes even knowing the promise of heaven I have such sadness in my heart over the death of people that I love. Specifically my Papaw who was like a father to me, my father-in-law and Jonathan. I was in the room when my Papaw and my father-in-law passed away and of course I held Jonathan's little body. Periodically these events will come to my mind and such heartbreak will enter my heart that it takes my breath away. I just have to seek the Lord for it to go away but it doesn't feel healed. Like you said that healing for me is reserved for heaven. I do think the Holy Spirit and dwelling in God's presence helps more than anything when I'm struggling emotionally. I also totally agree that heaven is where all of our healing will take place and I thank God for that! Love this post you did a beautiful job pointing hurting people to Jesus!

Christine said...

It's a very good point Tesha that people grieve differently over different things, so we have to be nonjudgemental and just a shoulder to cry on when trying to help our family and loved ones. To try to be Jesus with skin on is a good goal I think. Love to you!