Friday, May 1, 2009

#37 Pushing Through the Pain

Psalm 119:76 "O may Your lovingkindness comfort me..."

As most of you know, I spent some time in the military. I joined the Army in March of 2005 and went to basic training that same summer. I can recall turning 31 during basic training that year. I have to admit that I was never the fastest runner. I was not the top athlete or the star of physical training, but I always kept plugging along until I finished.

After I was in training for about three weeks I began to feel some pain in my left knee. I just thought it to be sore at first and I figured that it would just work itself out. However, it just got worse. Marching for the most part did not cause too much pain, but running was a different story. And running is as common to Army life as sand is to a desert. We ran all over the place and when we got finished we would run some more. At first I tried to just deal with it and not say anything, but it got to the point that I could not hide the limp that was developing in my stride. My drill sergeants began to notice too and they asked me what was wrong. Trying to be tough, I told them I was fine and that my knee was just a little sore, but they were not so dense at to not know what was really happening.

After a couple of days they made me go to sick call. When I was examined they determined that the cartilage behind my left knee was worn down and the intense activity of basic was causing my nerves and muscles there to become swollen and irritated. They gave me some Ibuprofen and sent me back to training. I eventually convinced my drill sergeant to let my wife send me a knee brace. That made all the difference in the world. The brace was just enough to keep the knee from sliding from side to side when I ran and I made it then the rest of the way through my training.

There were so many times that I wanted to just sit, cry, and hold my knee, but that was not an option. I had to push through the pain and keep moving. I will never forget when we did our 12 mile road march near the end of our training. About half way through my knee began to hurt. I wanted to quit so badly, but I began to pray and ask the Lord the help me make it through. After just a little while the knee must have went numb or something because it stopped hurting and I was able to complete the march. God took me through the pain.

In this life there are many pains that we have to endure. Yes, there are physical ones that twist and contort our bodies, but many of us face pain from an emotional perspective too. We suffer loss or we may do something that generates an outcome that makes life more difficult unnecessarily. Just this week, I lost two people that I cared a great deal about.

On Sunday I learned that my mentor pastor's wife passed away after a four-year battle with lung cancer. She was a beautiful Christian woman and Ginger and I loved her very much. Then yesterday I received a call informing me that the head elder from our home church in North Carolina passed away. He was a man that I admired and respected deeply. I can remember when I was just getting ready to leave home and head to Collegedale, TN to study Theology at Southern Adventist University. Our head elder came to me quietly and told me that if I never left Jesus then He would never leave me. I believed him then and I know it is so true now.

It saddens me that these two saintly people have had to take their rest in Jesus, but I know that one day soon Christ will come with a shout and the blast of a trumpet, and when He does the graves of those who rest in Jesus will burst forth and give up the redeemed who will be changed in a moment and the twinkling of an eye. Until that day comes we each have to learn to cope with loss. We each have to find a way to deal with the pain. Sometimes pain is much like that nagging, never-ending pain that I felt in my knee. Other times it may only come when we have a particular thought of our departed loved ones.

Whenever and however pain comes we have to have a plan to deal with it. I am a firm believer that there are some things in this life that we will never get over. They are too traumatic or too deeply tied to aspects of our lives that we cannot escape it. I say that to say this, even if we never get over a particular hurt in our lives we have a mighty God who is able to see us through it. Jesus has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He said that He will be with us even until the end of the age.

I am convinced that with Jesus by our side we can push through whatever pain this life may throw at us. I hope that when you face trials that you will allow the Sovereign of the universe to provide you aid and comfort through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Dear Father God,

Tonight we pause to praise You and thank You for the blessings in our lives. We thank You for another Sabbath and we ask that Your blessing would be heavy upon those that have and are experiencing loss in their lives. We know Lord that it is not always easy to pick up the pieces and move forward after we have lost a loved one, but we also know that by Your grace that we can have the courage to face another day. Lord, we long for the day when the chains of this earthly existence are cast aside and we can live with You forevermore. Please come soon Lord Jesus that we may be with You forever. We pray these things in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

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