I do not know of anyone who likes to experience pain; not the pain which results from exercising but the pain when one is ill. Think of bad migraines, broken limbs, child birth or organ failure and we can probably begin to empathize with sufferers of such pain. Yet, if you were asked to, would you willingly volunteer to accept someone else’s pain? No? Maybe if it was your child, parent or spouse perhaps? Certainly not a stranger for sure, correct?
Well as I’ve lain in bed for most of these past two weeks willing the very painful muscles in my back to behave themselves I thought about Jesus’ crucifixion and how He consciously agreed not only to become a helpless human being but to die a painful death for us. Why would He want to be human when He was already so much more? And it wasn’t as if he could overdose on sleeping pills, ingest some poison or even have someone shoot him in the head at close range when it was time for Him to die (way too easy I suppose). Instead he shouldered the weight of a heavy cross, endured whipping and taunts while a crown of sharp thorns was pressed down on to his head, and bore the brutal pounding of nails into his hands and feet. Make it personal and get a big nail and look at it closely; imagine it being hammered into your palm or foot – can you feel it?
My muscles really hurt. The pain is spreading from my lower back up to my shoulders. At present it seems as though this condition is going to get worse before it gets better. But do I really have the right to complain about my pain or be miserable because my very independent self must now depend on others to get things done? I really don’t know, because some days the answer is no and on others it’s a resounding yes – because I am indeed one of the helpless (and weak) human beings Jesus came to this earth to save. I dislike pain and I dislike being sick but when I truly think about it, I am so very glad that Jesus willingly gave His precious life for me – what about you? Something to think about.
Ñ Verses for Reflection Ò
John 19:1-3 (NIV)
19 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
John 3:16 (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Thursday before last was a good day. Actually, I had experienced a productive week and was looking forward to the weekend. My Saturday was going to be full and during the day on Thursday I confirmed my participation at a breakfast meeting, writers’ workshop and family get-together. Friday morning was a different story. I had serious intense pain all across my lower back. I made it into work (barely) and found it difficult to sit, stand or walk for even short periods of time. I made an urgent appointment with my physiotherapist who confirmed: muscular spasms! The pain was worse than labour pains. I couldn’t lie down, sit up straight, slouch, walk without holding my back or move without crying out. It was not pretty. Worse of all, my entire weekend was erased in the blink of any eye, just like that. I couldn’t believe it. As the days wore on, Monday found me at my GP getting a shot for the pain (in another very big muscle below my waist which will remain unmentioned here) and time off from work with more physiotherapy. But isn’t life interesting? I had been trying to slow down for the longest time but always felt there was way too much to be done. I am sure many of you can relate to the projects that keep finding their way on to your desk before you have even had a chance to finish the ones from before, the house work, the spouse/significant work, the ‘children’ work … it never seems to end. Yet God ended it for me. He had His own plans for my weekend and the week after; He just included a major set of pain to get my attention once and for all.
We cannot see into the future but God can. He knows the number of the hairs on our heads and He knows the plans He has not only for me but for you, your family and friends, and your careers. As Jeremiah shows us, the plans include prosperity and safety for today and for the future but if we continue to dash frantically hither, thither and yon without slowing down even enough to spend quality time with our Abba Father, He is going to send a red flag or two to get our attention. So I rest and rest and rest. I still think resting is over-rated and I am disheartened to see the world (and everyone else in it) spinning along without me but I can confirm for sure that God has the full attention of this tired little sparrow! So what are your plans? Is God involved in the planning? I encourage you to let Him be a wonderful part of the process and to remember that rest is just as, if not more important than, work.
Verses for reflection
“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 hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Luke 12:7 (NIV)