Life Worth Living ~ Healing Will Come
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
I never really grasped the expression “chronic pain.” Then I understood it better from someone who was experiencing it. In their case it was a deep searing postsurgical pain. It was unrelenting and life-altering as the days stretched into weeks, months, and years with occasional temporary relief from the realm of medicine. But it always returned in full blazing torment. He eventually not only had the pain itself but it caused him to feel cut from being able to fully participate in life with his precious family, friends, and yes, sometimes God Himself.
He read Job in a new light as he heard him despair, "And now my life ebbs away; days of suffering grip me” (30:16). He also gained deeper appreciation for the words of His Lord on the cross when “He cried out in a loud voice, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’" (Mt 27:46).
But physical suffering, as profound as it can be, is often laid alongside emotional suffering which can be equally intense. He experienced this too as he watched who he thought he was and the circumstances, and many cherished relationships and roles of his life seemingly fall apart. He had read accounts of people who had physically “died of their grief.” Now, he knew more deeply the meaning of those words.
The extent of suffering on this fallen planet is beyond human comprehension. But Holy Scripture teaches that for the believer there can be purpose in suffering. James says that we are to “Consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (1:2). If you had asked this man who, apparently for the rest of his life, was going to do battle with chronic pain if he “considered it pure joy” when it was flaring and bringing him in humiliating sobs to his knees he would have honestly have had to say, “No!” That would have been his flesh. But in the Spirit faith required him to accept James’ words for what they meant--somehow pain was going to make him a better person and servant of the Lord. But he would have to truthfully admit that at its worst he really didn’t care about becoming a better person. He just wanted it to stop. Thankfully, our Lord, who identifies with our suffering, is patient.
In our theme verse in Rom 8:18 we see an even deeper purpose in pain. It causes us to look forward to “the glory that will be revealed in us.” When our relationships, resources, and health seem to be in order it becomes easy to get comfortable and content on this fallen planet as measured by earthly matters. That can be dangerous because as spiritual beings this is not our real home. Hebrews 11 says of Abraham “9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (v7).
Are you suffering, my dear reader? This man I know would tell that his heart goes out to you. But as believers we must remember who we serve and why. And we must look forward to sharing together in a future incomparable glory. This man has learned to pray better for the suffering and he would have you know his prayers are with you while we wait.
“News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them” (Mt 4:24). Healing will come; now or later because we know The Healer.