Surely goodness and steadfast love shall follow me all the days of my life... Psalm 23:8 PAIN!
Bloody! Cutting! Unrelenting! and Soul-numbing...or is it?
For me, pain has a way of sifting through the non-essentials of life!
And I find my soul awakened abruptly from its numbing slumber to longing, loss, grief, confusion, perspective...
...but most importantly, the presence of GOD.
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. C.S. Lewis
In pain as in joy, I'm learning to hold onto two truths that are my "Unchangeables," my non-negotiables:
GOD IS GOODThe LORD is good...
I AM LOVED...and His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 107:1
But I'm hear to affirm by faith...
God's character is often bought into question when we face the "hard things" in life, like sickness, death, broken relationships, financial reversals, and so on.
When our son and daughter went through serious health problems (cancer and what turned out to be benign tumors) within months of each other, it threw me into incredible pain and confusion: "How could this be happening to my children!?" "What kind of toxic waste dump have we been living in!?" And I struggled on...for a long time!
Finally, it was Jesus' words to His disciples, the night before He died, that stabilized me:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
But why all the suffering? God's Word tells us that because of the Fall, everything and everyone has been suffering:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:21-23
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29
As Bible teacher Kay Arthur says,
Everything in our lives is filtered through fingers of Love!
And that brings me to my second "Unchangeable"...
I am LOVED and you are too!
We all are seeking perfect love...loving and being loved in a real and deep way. This is God-given. But I get myself into trouble when I expect perfect love from another person, or I try to live up to others' expectations simply so that they will love and accept me.
The realization that I am loved with an everlasting love by the Lover of my Soul, the Lord Jesus Christ, enables me to let others off the hook. It also frees me to admit and repent of my failures to love...and then forgive myself.
Maybe this is part of what we each must go through in adulthood in coming to grips with our "parent issues." In a perfect world, all of us would have been parented by perfect parents who met all our needs. But in reality, none of us has...though some of us have had some pretty darn good ones!
But in finally coming to grips with our grief and loss, we can forgive others for not loving us as only God can.
It's at that moment that you and I can fully embrace God's incredible, perfect love for us...and embrace our life, choosing to love with the love with which we have beenloved by God.
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing,... None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing— nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable —absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:35-39 MSG
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1 ESV
Click on the highlighted links for further study. There are several Bible-based articles by Biblical scholars, Scripture references, and links to other posts that have further explanation and Scriptural background.
When I was in the midst of writing this blog post, I came to chapter 5 of Ann Voskamp's beautifully written book One Thousand Gifts: Dare to live Fully Right Where You Are. Ann shares the raw pain and suffering in her life that led her to the same conclusion-- God is always good and I am always loved. I was delighted, surprised (but why should I be!?), and encouraged that God is speaking this same liberating message to His children everywhere. I highly recommend this beautiful book!