Chronic pain


I don’t know about you, but I am realizing that I find comfort when I buy in bulk.  Trying to buy enough food for a husband who works from home and two little kids who eat endlessly is no small feat.  I feel as if we are often running out of someone’s favorite food.  Since I have had trouble physically taking both kids with me to the grocery store, I hIMG_2437ave attempted to get all of the items we need from online grocery ordering sites which is often more expensive and I ultimately end up forgetting to purchase something that we need.  Just recently I bought a box of 1,000 packets of stevia for our many, many cups of coffee everyday and I could feel my spirit resting at the mere thought that I wouldn’t have to buy stevia in a while.  This momma can’t live without her coffee 🙂

We were watching Shark Tank this past Friday as we often do on Fridays, and Kevin O’Leary aka Mr. Wonderful said (approximately) that Shark Tank offers freedom.  There’s this concept out there in the world and I think sometimes even among believers that abundance in all forms (especially in the form of money) brings freedom or as in my example – peace of mind, security, rest.

When my pain came back, my focus turned inward and I asked myself a million questions: How will I get better?, How will I get this and this and this done?  How will this affect my kids?  How will I take care of my kids? How will the chores get done? How will we get groceries…  The questions were endless and I found myself not sleeping well at night.  Interestingly enough that when my pain was at its worst this time, we were not in a position of abundance financially.  We couldn’t just hire lots of people to get things done for me, and so the worrying began.  I knew ultimately that the Lord would provide but I continued to worry…

Graciously, the Lord used yet another card from Gracestoration to get my attention.  This card is called Serendipity  and has often been one of my favorites.  I often thought of it as one of the “fun” cards that I could just sit back and enjoy, but recently, the Lord has used it to get my attention and to re-focus me.13_Serendipity

This card portrays a story about the princes of Serendip.  They set out on a journey from Point A to Point B and had calculated exactly what they would need for their journey.  They didn’t want to pack too much and add excess weight to the camels and they didn’t want to pack too little and have to veer off the path in search for additional supplies.  Because they were passing through the desert, they didn’t want to be tempted by mirages.  As you likely know, a mirage is an optical illusion; to the naked eye it appears to be real but if you took a picture of it, it would not be there.  The princes knew that the mirages could be dangerous because they could waste the resources they had packed and then they wouldn’t have enough when they got to point B.  The princes decided that at Point A, they could put their confidence in what they knew to be true: they had enough resources for the journey and needed nothing more.  

We are like the princes of Serendip in that we too are on a journey from Point A (the point at which we accept Christ as our LORD and Savior) to Point B (eternity in Heaven).  When we accept Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross and invite Him into our lives, He promises to give us everything we need for this journey to eternity.

2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

So often though we forget about Christ’s divine power in our lives and we find ourselves focusing on earthly things and on ourselves.  Satan often uses three different “mirages” to lure us into shifting our focus from Christ to ourselves: needs, longings, and expectations.

The first area that He tempts us is in the area of our needs.  Instead of believing that my Good Shepherd has gone ahead of me and provided for all of my needs, I believe the lie: I deserve it all.  Not only do I deserve it all but it is my responsibility to find a way to meet all of my own needs myself.   When I start to believe this lie, I am then choosing to not believe God’s word.

Phil 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Not only does God promise to meet every one of our needs but He tells us to not worry about how those needs will be met.

Matthew 6:31-33 “ So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

One afternoon, I found my pain rising as the day went on and I found myself starting to worry about my pain escalating, taking care of the kids, making dinner, bedtime, etc.  My kids decided to not nap at the same time, so I couldn’t rest in the middle of the day, which I often need to keep my pain at bay.  So I turned to this card, and immediately I felt a wave of peace came over me as I realized it was not my job to worry about how all of these needs would be met nor was it my job to even think that I alone could meet all of these needs (even if I was healthy).  I quickly remembered to entrust (something I’ll talk about more in the next post) each thing to the Lord and my heart started to rest.  It turns out my husband watched the kids while I rested and He made smoothies for dinner and helped me with everything else on my list for that day.  My pain did increase, but God met my needs in it.

After that day, I quickly realized that most of my waking moments were consumed with worry and wonder.  We wanted to bring someone in for a few hours a week to help with the kids but didn’t have any wiggle room in the budget for it.  As I rested in Christ and waited, He provided my husband with a raise that gave us just enough money to hire someone to help me.  After we got the go ahead financially I emailed a sitter I had used in the past, and I waited.  It took over a week for her to get back to me due to extenuating circumstances in her family, but she was able to do it and I can see God’s grace in having her here to help me.  I could list several other examples where it seems as if God is not meeting my needs and if I wasn’t seeking Him and placing these things at His feet, I would have tried to supply these needs myself.  I’m so thankful that the Lord used this card to remind me to come to Him and rest in Him, because I have seen first hand that His provision is so much better than anything I could come up with.

The second area that Satan uses to shift our focus from Christ to ourselves is in the area of our longings.  It is here that I believe the lie: I can have it all.  I believe that I have a right to have what I want when I want it.  It is through this way of thinking that then leads me to self-fulfillment.  The world tells me that the reason I don’t have it is because I didn’t go after it and try to fulfill it myself.  

I have experienced deep longings in a few areas of my life but the one that has hit me the most is in the area of trying to have biological children.  I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom and I always dreamed, like most little girls, that I would get pregnant and have children of my own.  I was fascinated with what it was like to be pregnant and I wanted to experience that for myself.  My mom had 5 kids so I never gave it much thought that I would not be able to have children.  So as time went on and treatment after treatment failed, I realized that I was at a crossroad.  I could either stay at this mirage of longing for a biological child and try to keep chasing after that dream or I could sit at the Lord’s feet and ask him what his longing and dream was for me.  I remember we had to choose between continuing with fertility treatment or adoption because we couldn’t afford both.  I felt the Lord leading us to adoption instead and I had to surrender my dream to the Lord and open my hands, letting the Lord redirect my plan for my family.  I still long for biological children but through adoption I have seen first hand what it says in the following passage:

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” 

We have been doubly blessed by adoption and our lives will be forever changed by our two beautiful children and their amazing birthmothers.  The Lord fulfilled my longing in His time and in His way.  It wasn’t necessarily the path I would have chosen but I can see God’s amazing grace in it.  

The third area Satan uses to shift our focus on to ourselves is in the area of expectations.  It is here that I believe the lie: I can do it all or I must do it all or If I can’t do it, you should.  We start to believe that we should try to do it all in every area of our lives.  We place high expectations upon ourselves and when we get tired from the increased demand, we often then expect more from those around us to help us achieve all that we think needs to be done.  The root cause of why we place so high of expectations on ourselves as well as on others is often that we are not finding our significance in Christ alone.  We so often place our significance in what we do or accomplish instead of who we are in Christ.  

I feel as if I am still learning this concept.  Since I have been sick, I feel as if my identity is gone.

I am a physical therapist, but cannot practice at this time.

I am a runner, swimmer, and someone who enjoys exercising, but I cannot do any of those things right now.

I am a wife, mother, caretaker of our home, but I struggle physically with all three.

I’ll admit, sometimes I sit and dwell on what I am not, instead of focusing on what I am: a daughter of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 

My identity is in Christ and Christ alone.  It is when I realize that truth, that I can lay all of my expectations of myself and others at His feet and find rest. 

Psalm 62:5 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope (expectation) comes from him.”

We ultimately have a choice: we can drink from the mirages of this world or we can drink living water from our Good Shepherd.

John 4:13 “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 

The Lord has given us everything we need for this journey to eternity with Him.  All he is asking of us is to trust Him for the journey, to look to what we know to be true about Him, and to rest in Him.  

So what happened to our princes of Serendip?  Not only did they make it from Point A to Point B with enough resources for the journey, they actually ended up with more than they had started with.  They were blessed with serendipities: valuable or agreeable things not sought for.

And like the princes, we too are blessed with serendipities along our journey from the Cross to Eternity.

Hebrews 11:6 “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”

The Lord is looking to bless us as we stay on the path and fix our eyes on Him, and I find that the blessing is so much sweeter because I wasn’t expecting it or seeking after it.  I have had several serendipities throughout my life, but I’ll share two of the most recent ones.

We had friends staying with us a couple of weeks ago and I had mentioned to my friend that I wouldn’t likely go to my real moms meeting that week because I didn’t want to be worn out for a dinner I had with one of my college roommates that was also coming to town.  I find that just taking the kids in and out of the car can wear me out.  So several hours later, my friend offered to watch my kids in the morning so I could go to real moms by myself.  The amazing part of that is that she has three kids herself, so she watched 5 kids under the age of 5.  When I came home, the house was cleaner than when I left it, the laundry was folded and the dishes were done!

The next one occurred while I was at my real moms meeting.  I was talking with another friend and I was mentioning my schedule for the week.  When I mentioned that I had my son’s swim lesson the next day, she offered to watch my daughter so that I didn’t have to entertain her while my son was swimming.  That was a huge blessing, because I find that just holding my daughter for 30 minutes during swim lessons can really increase my pain.  I was abundantly blessed by her offer and it really did help keep my pain at bay.

After both of these friends sacrifices, I ended up having some really good days with minimal pain.  God provided more abundantly than I could have even imagined.

So where is your focus – on the mirages of this world or on Christ?  I recently read a quote by Lilias Trotter (1853-1928)  an artist, author, and missionary that struck me:

“It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His Glory. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.” – Lilias Trotter 

If you find your focus off the path turn your eyes to Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in his wonderful face
and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace.
-Helen H. Lemmel-

I pray that through His grace, the Lord can allow us to fully look into His face and that as we do, the circumstances of this life can fade into the background and we can experience unexpected blessings or serendipities along the way. 

2 thoughts on “Serendipity

  1. This is really good Sue!!! God finds ways to use us den when we go through deep waters. Blessings, Dad

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