Take Charge of Your Pain

by Lena Fields-Arnold

genie-in-bottle-aladdinGod is my genie in a bottle and he is supposed to do what I ask, when I ask!

Or so I believed when I first became a Christian. The moment I was plagued with any illness, instead of reaching for medicine, I reached for my Bible, believing that God was obligated to immediately heal any headache, cold, or ailment attacking my body! After all, didn’t God’s word say, “By His stripes we are healed?”

So after more than 12 years of infertility I had had enough! “God what is wrong! Why aren’t you listening to me? Why haven’t you healed me?” I shouted.

Not only did I not receive an answer, but I got more heartache and even more experience with illness and human suffering when my beloved mother was diagnosed with cancer. Toward the end of her three year ordeal, I knew God was not going to heal her. During that ordeal, and the trial of my own infertility I was left to ponder, “What does God’s word really say about healing?”

Phillip Yancey, in his book, Where is God When it Hurts, wonders the same thing. In his attempt to answer the questions he suggests that pain and suffering could be tools that God uses to draw us nearer to Him. Like me he knew that God is fully capable of healing whenever and wherever he wants and the Bible provides ample proof of that fact. So when God chooses not to heal, us mortal beings are left to wonder, why?

Pain is terrible, and Yancey describes the powerful destruction pain can have upon our lives.

Yet he also eloquently paints us a portrait of pains equally powerful purpose to inform. Pain tells our body that something is wrong. It motivates us to do something. Whether that something is reaching for a bottle of medicine or reaching out for God’s strength, we are compelled to do something, for doing nothing will most certainly bring us swift destruction.

Dr. Carolyn L. Gordon, suggests that pain become a catalyst to make us better people. Instead of asking, -why, Dr. Gordon suggests our response be to ask-what? What are you doing in my life Lord? What are you trying to teach me? In what way will my suffering benefit humanity and serve the greater good?

God promises us that all things work together for the good of them that love God-to those who are called according to his purpose. Not some things, but all things.

I do not pretend to know, nor understand how my mother’s cancer has worked together for good. But I can say this, I never saw my mother bemoan her plight. I never witnessed her wallowing in self pity. I witnessed her trusting God all the way the end. I witnessed a woman who never wavered in her faith and who served God with every breath she had in her body. I witnessed a woman who told God that she would gladly die if her family would develop a relationship with God.

During that three year ordeal I witnessed a miracle. Not the doe eyed, naïve, believe God is my fairy God mother miracle type of healing that I believed in when I first gave my life to the Lord. But the kind of miracle that lasts forever.

The miracle of a woman who stood firm in her faith, even though she may have felt like God had abandoned her. That’s the kind of faith God wants us to have. I held on to that faith after she died. I had to, because now I understood that God was not my genie in a bottle and that he was not obligated to heal me just because I asked him. But I kept right on asking anyway, because my mother taught me. She said, “Marie, I ask because what if God says yes?”

What if God says yes!

While I am waiting I will extol him. I will live life in the fullest way that I can. If all I can do is move my mouth to form a prayer I will pray. If he says no, I will still serve him and I will still praise him. Ah, but when he says yes, I will shout from the rooftops about this great God that I serve. I know it is hard and it is painful, but I am a witness that God will bring you through it.

No matter what illness, ordeal, or trial you are facing right now, remember to pray. Remember that God loves you. It’s difficult when we don’t know the purpose for the trial we are facing, but you can face this adversity when you change your focus. Stop asking why and start asking what! Take charge of it and do not give Satan credit by saying, “the devil has attacked me today.” Satan has no power over you except what God allows to make you better, faster and stronger than you were before!

Yes, I know it is a corny reference to the Six Million Dollar Man (one of my favorite shows WAY back in the day!) But you know whatever works to make the point right! Okay so look, Steve Austin had to endure this horrible accident, which by the way occurred while he was in the middle of doing his job.

six-million-dollar-manThe accident almost killed him and left him mangled and just about destroyed. During the surgery he was totally unaware that there were doctors working over him and who had the audacity to claim that they could re-build him and make him even better than he was before.

Can you believe that? They stole that premise right out of the Word of God!

God is the potter and we are the clay and when he is pressing us and squeezing us, He is shaping us into a vessel of honor fit to be used. In the process we are made better, faster, and stronger. You are so much better than a fictional character. You are part of a royal priesthood and a holy nation; so take charge today and ask God, what are you doing with me today?

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