Pushing Through the Pain

 

 

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. –Romans 8:37 NIV

My 15-year-old granddaughter Madison loves volleyball. So much so that she spent all summer working to stay in shape for the upcoming season. Good thing, because when volleyball practice started, the sessions were intense and physically demanding.

“It’s a good thing you love the sport,” I told her when she described the grueling (to me anyway) exercises she had to do.

Imagine her disappointment when, after the first match, she sustained an injury to her back. She texted me from the chiropractor’s office: “I’m out for two weeks or longer.”

Then, on top of that, a sinus infection kept her home from school the day of the second match of the season.

But don’t stress, Grandma. Right after the “I’m out” text, she sent me another one: “Never mind. He said if I do special stretches and go to the trainer, I can play.”

She may return to her beloved volleyball on Monday, but her injury, which affects her sciatic nerve—and you know the pain that comes with that—won’t be healed for at least two weeks. But she’s going to play through the pain and sinus infection because she loves the sport with a passion.

Then there’s her older brother, Brent, a senior. He decided last year to go out for football, changing his sport from baseball.

I had my reservations. I know these players take a pounding, and Brent suffered some serious injuries playing baseball, including at least one concussion and a compound fracture of his upper arm.

“I’m going to buy you a big roll of bubble wrap for your birthday,” I told him.

But Brent set his goal to make the team and began a self-imposed program of endurance and strength training. He put on weight and studied the game. And made the team.

He scored the first touchdown of the season for his team (and the first touchdown of his career) in the first game. And the team voted him, a first-year-player, as their captain. (Grandmas are allowed to brag.)

Imagine his frustration (and mine) when, after all that work and all he’d accomplished, after that first game, he ended up with shin splints. And you know how painful those can be. So down to the trainer he goes. But that hasn’t taken him from the game he’s come to love.

“The only way they’re taking me off the field,” he told me, “is on a stretcher.”

Yes, this tangled bundle of bandages and tape came off Brent’s leg after practice.

And so he endures ice baths and miles of ace bandages and tape.

I recognized a familiar disappointment that settled in my heart. My own kids were involved in sports and also suffered pains and sprains, which I felt kept them from performing their best.

But now I look at my grandchildren and their determination and grit, and I realize that no one who truly plays a sport escapes injury. If you give it your all, you’re going to get hurt. It’s just the nature of the game.

And the nature of life itself.

We’re all playing with pain, aren’t we? Whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional, whether it’s apparent or hidden. We’re the “walking wounded.”

I used to think it was better to back off when pain flared. It’s human to want to avoid pain.

But we can’t live our lives in bubble wrap. Pain, I’ve learned, can develop our character, strengthen us, and drive us to the One who has a plan and purpose for it. Now I’m seeing the importance of pushing through the pain and giving life my all.

Like my grandchildren, we have a choice. We can moan and groan, wallow in self-pity and bewail our luck.

Or we can man up and push on, refusing to be benched—until they take us off the field on a stretcher.

“I have come that they might have life,” Jesus said, “life to the full” (John 10:10).

Are you living life to the full?

Help me to embrace all You send my way, O Lord, even pain, knowing You have a plan and purpose for all You allow in my life. Grant me sustaining grace and a willing spirit. Amen.

Read and meditate on Hebrews 12:1–13

MORE TEA: Some quotes on pain

I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.  ~ Elizabeth Elliot

God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, nor circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son (see Romans 8:28-29).  ~ Jerry Bridges

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(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

 

Where Is God When I Hurt?

love-you-my-presious-child
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. – Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

I met the most extraordinary man last Saturday.

A multi-published author, Mike Dellosso not only taught a workshop on finding the time to write, but also gave the keynote speech at the beginning of the one-day writing conference I attended.

In his address, “Becoming Unstoppable,” Mike talked about how to move forward toward realizing our goals despite – or because of – the roadblocks that slam down in front of us. He spoke of the roadblocks of fear, failure, and suffering. And he spoke from experience.

You see, Mike grew up with a profound stutter. Yet I could detect only a slight hesitation and an occasional stutter as he spoke and taught for a total of two hours. He certainly could talk of fear and failure with firsthand knowledge.

But overcoming such a profound disability isn’t the only thing that amazes me about Mike.

Eight years ago, at the age of 35, this husband, father, and teacher was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.

Yet there he stood before us, the picture of health, revisiting that time of intense suffering and uncertainty when life was reduced to nothing but pain.

Have you ever been there?

I have. In 2011, pain from four bulging neck disks was so excruciating, so debilitating, I spent my days on the love seat with a heating pad on my neck and Tylenol with codeine coursing through my body. Yet it barely took the edge off. I was that way for six months until surgery relieved the pain.

“Suffering,” Mike said Saturday, “clears away everything in life. There’s nothing left but the suffering, the pain. The way we get through it is depending on God, running to God.”

Suffering, he said, brought his relationship with God’s Son in clearer focus.

“I never had – nor ever since – felt the presence of God so strongly. I’m almost afraid to admit it, but sometimes I almost wish I could go back to that time of pain just so I can have the presence of God again like I did at that time.”

Wow.

A purpose for our pain: a clearer focus on the God who calls us, loves us, gave Himself for us.

Where is God when you hurt?

Right there beside you, with you, surrounding you, in you. Calling to you. Holding you. Soothing you. Loving you.

“Do not be afraid,” He says, “for I am with you. Fear not, for YOU ARE MINE” (Isaiah 43:5, 1 – emphasis mine).

Remember, dear one, you are His: “The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

In your suffering, listen for His song.

Thank you, Father, for Your abiding presence in my life. Thank you, Jesus, that You suffered more than I, even in my most intense pain, cannot even imagine. Yet You did it for me so my sin could be removed and my eternal life with You secured. May my pain remind me of Your suffering for me. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Isaiah 43:1–7

 

Click here to visit Mike Dellosso online.