I try not to talk about my health issues very much because I feel like I'm just feeling sorry for myself - which many times I am - however, I ran across (funny how that works) a passage during my quiet time this morning that really hit home. It just spoke to my heart in such a clear way that I felt that God wanted me to share.
A little background first - I no longer work outside the home because of health issues. We have recently moved to North Carolina and live in a cabin on a mountain with only one neighbor in sight. I have not met anyone here yet and have not started visiting churches due to the pain that is associated with a herniated disc. Because of this isolation, I feel that at this time and in this place, my ministry has to be through written word to unknown receivers. I am trusting God that He will deliver my heart through my words to those who can be comforted and find faith in Jesus my savior.
I have been struggling with severe back and leg pain for the last six months. An MRI was finally ordered and revealed that I had a herniated disc that was pinching my nerve root causing sciatic pain. While I was not happy with this diagnosis, it at least gave me hope of a cure. However, to make a long story short, I am not a good candidate for surgery due to my other issues. So I find myself with only the hope that God will cure or give me the strength and mercy to function with the pain and limited ability.
I happened to read 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 this morning. As is often the case, I find that during my quiet times, if I read long enough, God is going to speak to me about something I'm struggling with or something that a friend is struggling with. This morning was no exception:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction"
Note - Here is a promise that God will comfort us in all of our affliction and what is amazing is that the God of the universe goes on to give us an answer to our question "why must we suffer"
"so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too."
Wow!! My suffering isn't in vain - not only is God going to comfort me but he is also going to use my pain to help others in their pain - he even says that I will share in the pain of Christ - I can't even get my head around this completely, but when I look at my suffering compared to Christ's suffering - this is a reality check and a sure fire cure for feeling sorry for myself.
"If we are afflicted it is for your comfort and salvation: and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort."
Here is another blow to my ego as Paul reminds us of his sufferings, but we already have the promise that God comforts us in all of our afflictions - he doesn't use a scale. Notice also that Paul says our afflictions can result in salvation! What more could we ask for? This makes my pain bearable and that is comfort in itself, but Paul also tells the Corinthians that his hope for them is unshaken. He turns the suffering around - he doesn't dwell on it and question it - his love and hope is for those who he ministers to. My prayer is that God will give me this love for others that will outweigh my pain and circumstances. Paul goes on to explain the depth of his despair.
"For we do not want you to be unaware brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death."
Paul completely opens his heart here when he talks about the depth of his affliction to the point of death! But in the next verse he is quick to give a heavenly reason for even this extensive pain.
"But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us."
Bingo! He brings it home. Sometimes God allows pain, suffering or a dangerous situation to make us not rely on ourselves but on Him! This makes my anxiety drop as I stop trying to "fix" things and simply go to Him for my comfort and His answer to whatever it is I'm going through. Next Paul makes a confirming statement that we can adopt for ourselves.
"On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again."
Paul finishes off with the reason for prayer.
"You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many."
I never stop being amazed at the Bible and how it speaks to our individual problems. There is so much content in these few verses, so much wisdom, comfort, direction and truth!
Whatever your affliction might be - death of a loved one, an illness, a hurtful relationship, finances --- you are promised that if you turn to God for your comfort, He will not only provide the mercy that you seek but He will also use it to comfort others -- even to the point of their salvation. The hurtful and painful situations that we find ourselves in can be used to the glory of His name and will allow us to play a part in the building of His kingdom! Instant relief is not promised - comfort is promised, furthering God's kingdom is promised, as well as salvation.
I don't know what you are going through but it is my prayer that you will find comfort from God through my words and that they may point you to Jesus who suffered the ultimate sacrifice in order for those of us who believe to find our eternal comfort. I would love to hear from you! I love reading comments! I don't confess to have all the answers but I know who does!
Have a blessed day!