It was the 15th migraine that month and at that moment of prayer, I lay crying and rocking myself in bed. I was in what seemed to be unbearable pain begging God to take it all away by any means necessary even if it meant this was it for me. As the pain started to subside, there was now a space for thoughts of why and how and when. Why is this still happening after 20 years? Do I not have enough faith? When will this incredible "thorn in my flesh" end? Will I ever get well? I even have had feelings of guilt, fear, sadness, and at times a resolve to just say, "I quit".
And as the pain subsided even more, it's here that I so often find the relief and therefore the ability to muster thoughts of gratitude. "Thank you God. Thank you for getting me through this physical and spiritual attack. Thank you for meeting me in the darkest places of my inner being. Thank you for rescuing me and bearing with me and most importantly teaching me honesty, wholeness, realness, rawness – true relational faithfulness."
God is amazing, He knows exactly what we need and he knows exactly how to get our attention. Like this passage in Job I have learned to listen (and grow) through pain. God has my attention! How is God trying to get your attention today? How is he getting you to listen to Him? I hope your "learning to listen moment" is not like mine. But I do hope you are learning to listen and that God has your direct attention. Maybe he is reaching you through another person. Maybe he has piqued your attention through the very passages of his word that you read today. Maybe he has your attentive ear via a peaceful moment while standing on a beach. I really do hope it's that good for you right now, but if you are like me it comes with a little more struggle than serene beach scenes!
My life's question right now, "What is it that God is trying to teach me through this lousy suffering?" After a number of years of asking, I may be closing in on an answer. Through his life-giving, relief-bringing and compassionate voice he has taught me to live in love and not fear. He has taught me to stop trying to control everything so that as I embrace love (not fear) I can let the end result be up to him – yes that is called surrender! He has taught me that I no longer need to protect myself from being hurt because he loves me and he has me. God has my back. And when I know that God knows, it is then that I can open myself up to receive all the love around me. Love that comes from my husband, from my family, from my friends, and even directly from God himself. Despite my suffering, actually through my suffering I have learned the power of being loved and giving love.
And you know what, God is healing me! Remarkably the more I have learned to surrender and listen the more the pain is disappearing. It's as if the pain has served an amazing purpose and I no longer need it to grow. Imagine we each took our moments of pain and turned it into purpose. We learned to grow, not despite it, but because of it. It has been a long and at times arduous journey. And now I literally have laughed contemplating where I have come from to where God has brought me... I see this miracle happening in my life. While I have come to have a very real faith in the fact that God is healing me of pain I am not naïve enough to think I will never have pain or trial again in my life. Nor am I naïve enough to think I have learned all there is to learn. But – I have learned to listen. Yes, God has my deep abiding and willing attention.
"Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who's full of mercy and all comfort. He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us." -- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NCV)
God meets us in the darkest, scariest places of our lives. Where will you be today for that meeting? God has stirred me to come to him in many ways over my life. How is God getting your attention today? Listen to him. Let him comfort and heal you. Let him teach you love, peace, kindness and to let go of fear. He will guide you through the places of your heart and allow you to be filled with a peace that you can't even explain. Sometimes he will do it overlooking a beautiful sunset on a beautiful beach but sometimes his greatest gifts come through suffering. In that suffering it is my hope that I will be able to comfort others through the comfort he has given me.