Tag Archives: Pain

Broken Heart of Love – A Poem

Broken Heart of Love

This searing pain in my heart
I wish it would go away
I pray for it to leave me
But it is love
I would be hollow without it

I watch you drowning
in a sea of turmoil and fear
I reach out my hand,
the one connected to my broken heart
“It’s okay, the sailing’s fine,” you say

I walk away, thinking perhaps
My eyes deceive me and you are not
drowning, or else why
would you say otherwise?
I know you would not lie

But still this pain
deep down inside my aching heart
reminds me
that you are not fine,
the sea is not calm

The storm rages
but I cannot rescue you
You cannot see my hand
reaching through the darkness
beckoning you to dry land

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Focus on the Known

Some things in life are unknown. Right now I’m facing the unknown of health concerns. After multiple tests, doctors still don’t know what is causing recent symptoms. I do have a list of what it is not. Whenever a test reveals that it is not something else I’m told it is good news. And I know that for the most part it is. But the difficult news remains that we don’t know what it is.

I thought of this post this morning, but decided not to write it because, frankly, I get tired of complaining about my health. I know there are a lot of people worse off than me, and I’m sure it gets old for others to hear about my various maladies.

Then I went to my list of blog subscriptions to see what others had posted for today. I clicked on a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Karla over at Out of Eden Ministries. The post was called “at the beginning going low.” She starts with a discussion of how Rahab the prostitute appears in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5, and goes on to talk about how God makes the insignificant into a significant part of His plan. Karla writes:

 Phone calls and prayers and prostitutes and a scarlet cord and you, yes you. Your life, your love, your pain, your prayer, and your hunger for more. All significant in the plans and the hands of God.

I immediately knew I had to write this post after all, because although it starts with my insignificant struggle with pain and its unknown cause, it doesn’t end there. It ends with a focus on the known. What I thought of to write for today was how, even though I don’t know what is wrong with me, God does. And even more importantly, I know the truth of what God has revealed in His Holy Word. Here are some truths that I cling to, that I choose to focus on, as I face my insignificant struggles.

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. Romans 8:28 (NIV).

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV).

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV).

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

My own struggles are light and momentary in the grand scheme of the universe and God’s plan. Though I will suffer a little while, Jesus will restore me and make me strong. He will use my sufferings for good in the big picture of His purpose. He has plans to prosper me spiritually, and He will faithfully fulfill this promise.

(You might be wondering why certain words are bolded in the above verses. These are the words I remember and that I used to find these verses on Biblegateway.com, since I seldom remember the actual chapter and verse of the scripture that I have stored up in my heart.)

Karla’s post made me realize that I needed to listen to the prompt in my spirit to post about my struggles and the known promises of God that I choose to focus on, because there just might be someone out there who is struggling too and needs to know that God is with them. If that happens to be you, then hold onto the promises of God and He will see you through.

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Prayer – A Poem

Prayer finds me
seeking You for
comfort and healing
here on my knees

As I come to You
my mind is turned
to others who need
what I seek for me

Immanuel, You
are with me now
as I focus on You
instead of my pain

Never to forsake me
You have promised
I find it is true
when You I seek

Check out some other poetry at dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night #15.

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Natural Consequences of Sin Aren’t God’s Punishment

I often hear people say that the bad things that happen to them are God’s punishment for something wrong they have done. I have a friend who desires to find someone to marry, but has said that she doesn’t think God will ever bring her a mate because of all the wrong she has done in the past with respect to relationships. In the news we hear televangelists say that natural disasters are God’s punishment for the sins of the people in the area hit by the disaster.

But I don’t think God works that way. James wrote, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” James 1:17-18 (NIV). God desires to give good gifts, not punishment.

I also think of Job, a man who endured great suffering and loss. But none of it was punishment from God. Rather, all of his sorrows came from Satan, albeit with God’s permission, so that Satan would see that God’s redeemed and faithful servants would never reject Him simply because of trials they face. See
Job 1-2 (NIV).

For the believer in Christ Jesus, all the punishment for our sins has already been meted out at the cross. As Jesus said, “It is finished.” John 19:30 (NIV). To believe that we need to suffer punishment for our own sin is to believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was insufficient. The apostle John wrote, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 (NIV). God does not seek to punish, but to restore and redeem those He loves.

There are, however, natural consequences of sin. If we are gluttonous, we are likely to be overweight and suffer various illnesses that come from poor eating habits. If we get drunk, especially habitually, we will suffer in terms of health problems, possibly losing a job, or having financial difficulties because we spend too much money on alcohol. If we get involved with other drugs, the same problems can happen, perhaps even worse if they are illegal drugs because we could end up in prison for breaking the law. If we are sexually promiscuous we may contract diseases, end up with a child we didn’t want, or will suffer emotional damages and loneliness. If we gossip and badmouth others, we will damage others view of us and damage our relationships.

Every sin has natural consequences. Sometimes we are fortunate to avoid the worst of the natural consequences, but not always. And all sin results in the natural consequence of separating us from God because our guilt and shame cause us to avoid God. That has been the case from the first sin in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve hid from God.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:6-10 (NIV).

God knows what is best for us and has declared what is sin based on His superior knowledge of what is beneficial for our physical and emotional well-being. Just as He gave to Adam and Eve all that they needed in the Garden, He desires to give us good and perfect gifts.

In addition to the natural consequences of individual sinful behavior, the sinful nature of mankind over the centuries has brought into our lives a brokenness that leads to pain and suffering. The evil nature of some people can lead to suffering by others, such as a violent man who beats his wife, or the drunk driver who causes an accident that kills others, or a serial killer who tortures his victims. Our sinfulness is also engrained in our DNA and can lead to sickness and disease that brings suffering as well.

So if you are suffering and think that God is punishing you, think again. Return to God and seek His face, seek the good and perfect gifts that He has offered. Lean on Jesus in your suffering because He desires to restore and redeem you, not cause you more suffering. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 (NIV). Come into the light and rest in His love.

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Pain and Suffering – A Poem

Okay, this is going to sound weird to some of you, but my Thankful Thursday poem today is titled “Pain and Suffering.” I’ve been trying to think of what to write all week and couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t trite. I thought of the new paver driveway and patio I just had installed, but didn’t think that would make much of a poem. I thought of the housekeeper I wish I had, that I would be thankful for if only I had one, but that didn’t seem right either.

Then last night I was driving to the doctor to discuss refilling my pain medication. I thought of James 1, which our youth minister preached on last Sunday. James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV). Although I would love to live a life in which I experienced no pain or suffering, that is not my lot. (I’ve never actually met anyone who did live a life with absolutely no pain or suffering.)

But I have come to a place where I can find the good in it all – the “silver lining” if you will – in that it has taught me perseverance and compassion. For that I am thankful. I am also thankful for God’s promise that my perseverance will finish its work so that I will be mature and complete.

Pain and Suffering

I will pray
because I care
as the pain drags
you down
exhausting
endless
pain

I understand
how you feel
I’m exhausted
just like you

I have no power
to eliminate
the pain
Yours or mine

Will you let
compassion blossom
from the compost
of your pain?

Or will bitterness
engulf your soul
as pain ravages
your body?

Because I care
I will pray
that we persevere
that the pain
will be eased

I will remind you
this, too, shall pass
someday

It might not be
until Jesus returns
or calls us
home

But we’ll make it
We’ll persevere
and become mature
and complete
I will pray
because I care

Will you pray
for me, too? 

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
James 1:12-18 (NIV).

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Jesus Understands Our Invisible Pain

So the last couple of posts I’ve mentioned that I haven’t been feeling well, that I have been in pain. Had the beginnings of a migraine two days last week but was able to catch it in time, and then started having a mild flare up of my fibromyalgia.

I really didn’t want to write about it, but then I realized that sharing my struggles with this syndrome might help someone else who struggles with invisible pain.

When someone breaks a leg, or suffers a severe burn, or is covered with cuts and bruises it is easy for people to see what is wrong and to sympathize. But the pain of fibromyalgia is invisible pain. From the outside the person suffering with the pain of fibromyalgia looks just fine, and so people don’t understand what they are going through.

It is also an unpredictable pain with no easily determinable cause or trigger. One day you feel just fine and you wake up the next day feeling like you got run over by a freight train. I’ve gone for months feeling fine, with very little pain, then suddenly every muscle in my body aches and certain movements cause sharp pains in my legs, arms, and neck.

I try to figure out why. I’ve had doctors give me conflicting theories of what causes this pain, and I have read conflicting theories as well. One doctor told me it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Another has told me it is caused by what I eat, by an inability of my muscles to process sugar that results in toxins in my muscles. Another suggested it is a symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that stems from some early trauma. I have also read that there is a strong link between fibromyalgia and Epstein Bar Virus (or mononucleosis), which I had when I was in junior high. Finally, I have read that it is simply hereditary.

The pain of fibromyalgia is truly invisible. There is no medical test that shows whether someone has fibromyalgia. There is a “tender point” test in which the doctor checks 18 designated tender points on the body and if 11 or more are tender to the touch a diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be made. But even that test is somewhat subjective.

All my life I have felt pain in circumstances where someone else thought I shouldn’t have felt pain. I can remember saying something hurt when I was a kid only to be told, “That didn’t hurt.” This summer I experienced pain from something that didn’t seem like it should hurt. I was at my cousin’s house in Houston and his granddaughter was playing with three pine cones. She kept handing them to me to play with, but the sharp points started to really hurt my hands. I said I didn’t want to play anymore because it made my hands hurt. My sister looked at me and asked, “Does that really hurt?”

Invisible pain. It’s difficult to cope with sometimes. But I know that Jesus knows how I feel, and that give me a great deal of comfort. Although the pain Jesus experienced when He was scourged, beaten, and crucified was quite visible, He experienced an invisible pain, too. He experienced the pain of having the sin of the world laid upon Him and of His Father turning away as He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 (NIV).

If you struggle under the weight of invisible pain, take heart that you are not alone. Christ understands your suffering and your pain. You also have fellow Christians who understand what you are going through. The apostle Peter provided for us who suffer a wonderful encouragement in his first epistle:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.  1 Peter 5:6-11 (NIV).

Satan would love to devour us in our pain, to make us fall and cease to be of use in God’s kingdom. But if we cling to Jesus, cast all of our fears and anxiety on Him, He will help us to defeat Satan’s plans. If you are struggling with invisible pain and feeling like you are at your wit’s end, leave me a comment and I would love to pray for you. It would be a blessing to me to be able to ask our Lord to strengthen you and give you peace and comfort, that you might be enabled to stand firm in your faith. Would you do the same for me?

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Faith Brings Joy Even in Pain

There are many things in this world and this life that I do not understand. Today, I don’t understand chronic physical pain. I get the purpose of acute pain, such as the pain you feel when you touch a hot burner on the stove or cut yourself while chopping vegetables. That pain tells you there is an injury that you need to attend to. It is pain that can be dealt with and has a purpose and a definite end.

But chronic pain just goes on and on as a reminder that something is wrong that you can’t do anything about. I struggle to understand a purpose for that kind of pain. I suppose it makes one sympathetic to others who suffer from chronic pain, but if it didn’t exist at all then such sympathy would not be necessary. Which leaves me right back at not understanding. Sometimes it’s enough to make me want to give up altogether.

But then I remember something that I do understand: faith. Martin Luther said, “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. It is so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” When I consider the faith that has been granted to me by the Holy Spirit, I know that I cannot give up. Faith helps me remember that this life is not all there is, and that chronic pain will have a definite end someday. Maybe not today or tomorrow, or even next week, but there will be better days and there is eternity living in God’s grace.

I wasn’t going to mention any music in this post, since that seems to defeat the purpose of having a designated Music Monday. But there is another song on the MercyMe CD I’ve been listening to this week that has really helped to strengthen my faith and helped me to endure the physical pain. It’s called Move, and the second verse and chorus have been such a blessing to me this week:

This hurt is getting heavy
But I’m not about to cave
Everything is about to change
There’s gonna be brighter days

I just might bend but won’t break
As long as I can see Your face

(Chorus)
When life won’t play along
And right keeps going wrong
And I can’t seem to find my way
I know where I am found
So I won’t let it drag me down
Oh, I’ll keep dancing anyway

I’ve mentioned before that I have a deck of angel cards in my office with an inspiring word on each card. I periodically pull three new cards at random, one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Spirit. Today I decided it was time for three new cards (though I hated to put  Beauty, Grace, and Love back in the deck). The three new cards that I pulled are Joy, Healing, and Truth. These seem quite appropriate for today.

As I pondered these words, I realized that there will be Joy in Healing when I am no longer in pain (whenever that may be). But more importantly, there is Joy now in the Truth of God’s mercy and love. Joy is not dependent on my physical wellbeing, but is the natural state of a heart captured by Christ. Joy comes from faith that is confident in my position as a child of God. This is the promise that Paul shared with the church in Rome:

Faith Brings Joy

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:1-5.

Some things I don’t understand, but faith in the love and mercy of Jesus our Lord and Savior I do understand. How it gives me such joy in spite of trying circumstances remains a mystery, but the fact that it does is indisputable.

If you are struggling today with chronic pain that you don’t understand, I can sympathize with you. Don’t give up! Hang onto the knowledge of God’s love that the Holy Spirit supplies, the promise of brighter days that God’s Word offers, and the faith that brings a joy that transcends human understanding.

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An Intercessor’s Heart

Everyone experiences difficulties in life. It can be the loss of a job, an illness that never seems to end, a broken marriage and a broken heart, not being able to make ends meet, a physical or verbal attack by a friend or a stranger, the devastation of a natural disaster, and the list goes on. But the greatest tragedy is that all of these difficulties and trials have shattered hope.

When we go through some difficulty and then we finally reach the end of it, we can respond is different ways. One way is to be happy for ourselves and try to just put it all behind us, never thinking of the difficulty again. Another is to not be able to get over it, to remain bitter and resentful that we had to go through this trial at all, never giving thanks for the restoration we have experienced.

A third way we can respond is to rejoice that we have made it through with the help of God, but to never forget how it felt to be in the midst of that trial. This third response helps to develop an intercessor’s heart filled with empathy. This is the response I have chosen in response to the many trials I have faced in life. God has used this response to develop in me an intercessor’s heart with the desire to pray for others who are going through trials of their own.

I recently learned of the ongoing struggles of a fellow Christian on the Third Day Connect website, which involved several of these difficulties all at once. I don’t know this woman, but my heart went out to her and I wanted to help. But I have no way of helping her except to pray. And so pray I have, primarily that God will restore her hope, which seems to have been shattered into a billion little pieces by the weight of her troubles.

I doubt her story is all that unique. Many struggle because the weight of life has shattered their hope. I know I can’t restore their hope, but I know the One who can. The devil would like God’s people to drown in their trials, but God has promised to restore hope to those who believe.

I have a wooden sculpture of the word “Hope” that I got at the Relay for Life. I sat it on top of a picture in my bathroom and it fell to the floor and broke into many pieces. My son tried to glue it back together using Elmer’s glue, wood glue, and a hot glue gun, but pieces still keep falling off. It will never be the same. I actually bought a new one at Relay for Life this year to replace it, but I keep both on the windowsill in my bedroom as a reminder of hope shattered and hope restored.

The apostle Peter wrote about weathering trials and the promise that God will restore hope:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:6-10.

Peter’s reminder that other believers are “undergoing the same kind of sufferings” led me to another thought. What if, instead of waiting until after we have been restored from our trials to intercede for others in prayer, we also prayed for others undergoing the exact same trials we are undergoing right now?

  • What if, as you looked at a pile of bills you didn’t have the means to pay, you stopped to intercede for all those around the world who were also struggling to make ends meet?
  • What if, as you sat in the clinic chair undergoing weekly chemotherapy for cancer, you prayed for the many who had just received their diagnosis or who were facing surgery to remove a tumor?
  • What if, as you sat in your living room in shock that your spouse had left you or cheated on you, you cried out to God for all the broken hearts and failing marriages across the nation?
  • What if, as you surveyed the damage to your house from fire, tornado, or flood in disbelief that it could all be destroyed, you interceded with our Father for the many who lost all their worldly possessions?
  • What if, sitting in the front pew at your loved one’s memorial service, you shed a tear for those sitting around you and at memorial services throughout the world?

What if we used our pain and suffering to care for others in pain? How would that change us? How would that change them? Would it give God an opening to restore hope to a people that desperately need it? I believe it would. And I believe it would strengthen the intercessor’s heart in all of us. Will you choose to join me in this intercessory endeavor? I hope so.

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Forgiveness Brings Life – A Poem

Yesterday I had to attend an all day seminar on advanced estate planning. Suffice it to say it was less than scintillating and I had to do something to stay awake. So I wrote this poem about forgiveness. It seemed appropriate, since much of what was being discussed in the seminar was the disputes in wealthy families over what would happen to an estate when someone died. Such disputes often are filled with anger and bitterness, leading to broken families and lives.

Forgiveness Brings Life

Hurt and pain
Pour down like rain
From friends and strangers
Throughout our life

We react, anger welling
In our hearts bitterness dwelling
Holding us hostage
Stealing our life

If we forgive through Him
Let go, sing a hymn
He will set us free
To love, enjoy life

 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:34-36.

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