Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pain and Promise

Recently I had to be seen by a hand surgeon related to some pain I was having in my right hand. The surgeon was able to determine I was in the early stages of developing a "trigger finger." That is a condition characterized by an inflammation around the tendon which inhibits the easy movement of the fingers. Over time if left untreated the finger at the site of the inflammation gets stuck which then requires you to physically pull on it to get it unstuck, causing more pain and inflammation. I was hoping the surgeon would recommend some sort of non-invasive remedy that would take care of the pain. However, he instead suggested an injection into my hand (palm side) of an anti-inflammatory medication which was guaranteed to reduce the swelling, pain, and restore normal movement. Needless to say I was not quick to agree knowing that the hand is a very sensitive part of the body. I tried to reason my way out of it in my mind as he sat patiently waiting for me decide. Finally I had to come to grips with the fact that the alternative was a continued deterioration which would lead to surgery. So, I opted for the pain of the injection based on the promise that my hand would get better.  We often have the same experience in our Christian walk. We  set our hopes on a particular outcome that we believe is God's will for us but sometimes get surprised when God does the opposite. I had such an experience not too long ago. I believed God had clearly opened a door for me which I excitedly pursued only to have the door as I perceived it slammed shut, bolted, and locked. It through me into a tailspin and I was deeply grieved. All the questions come bubbling to the surface, "I don't get it God, is this some kind of a cruel joke?" "Did I misinterpret your leading?" As a result one can go to a place of questioning the goodness of God. However, just as I had to trust the doctor that the pain from the injection would bring healing, so I have to trust God with the same. In fact pain and a promise are very Biblical. Remember Abraham? In Genesis 12 God gave Him numerous promises about "blessing all peoples of the earth through him."(Genesis 12:2-3) How exciting that must have been for Abraham! Even though God called him to leave his homeland, on some level Abraham was able to trust God given the promise that was to be fulfilled through him. But God threw Abraham a "curve ball" when he told him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. (Genesis 22) In the midst of the emotional pain Abraham was experiencing, he may have wondered whether experiencing the pain of the death of his only son was worth it for the fulfillment of the promise. Ultimately, Abraham decided to trust God and of course the rest is history.  Isaac was saved and Abraham did indeed become the father of many nations (Jew and Gentile) and through his lineage, came Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. In Christ we see the repetition of the pain and promise to us. Through the pain of Jesus' sacrifice came the promise of hope, reconciliation with God, and eternal life. Some folks wonder if God could have found a better way than for Jesus to suffer as He did? Yes, God could but pain was necessary for us to appreciate the healing. The healing of the rift between God and humanity because of sin and the healing of our souls as we are conformed to the image of Christ. The hand doctor told me if my hand did not feel any better in about a month, I could come back for a second injection which should do the trick. (I am praying that's not the case) The good news is "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." (2 Peter 3:18a) And in my moments of despair when I am tempted to question the goodness of God, His word speaks comfort to my wounded soul, "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 a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) "I will not forget you! See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." (Isaiah 49:15b-16) italics mine. Somehow having something engraved on the palms of one's hands is far more painful than my injection but Oh the promises that follow! 
Be Blessed!
Pastor Sheree

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