Friday, May 24, 2013

Keep Calm and Carry On

“In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and confidence is your strength”
(Isaiah 30:15).

May is Military Appreciation month, and in David Jeremiah’s May devotional booklet, he relates the story of a signboard that was used in Great Britain during World War II to boost morale.  “Keep Calm and Carry On” was rediscovered a few years ago and is impacting people again.

We may not be in a physical war, but all believers are in a war against sin and evil.  Those of us with health issues also “battle” with our pain and its repercussions on a regular basis.  This signboard is appropriate for us as we relate it to our faith.

In my battles with pain, panic easily come upon me, and this verse in Isaiah is one I have repeated to myself many times.  When I become fearful, anxious, worried, or negative, I need to repent of that sin.  I am not trusting that God is in control of my life and will bring me through whatever I am facing.  I then need to rest in that truth.  The Lord has not only saved me eternally, but He also saves me continually from my lack of faith and trust in Him and the problems those weaknesses bring.

When I am losing my battle with pain due to stress and fear, I become an easy target for Satan and his lies.  But if I remain quietly confident in God’s love and power, I am filled with the same power that raised Christ from the dead.  When I keep calm in the Lord and His Word, I truly can carry on.   

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I praise You that I can keep calm and carry on because:  “There is nothing – no circumstance, no trouble, no testing – that can ever touch me until first of all it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me.  If it has come that far, it has come with great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment.  But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift my eyes to him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret.” (taken from Victorious Christian Living by Alan Redpath).


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Don’t Waste Your Exile

“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”
(Psalm 137:4).

Many of us are familiar with the book Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.  Our pastor recently began a sermon series related to this concept, and not wasting our “exiles” was one of them.

This verse in Psalms was written when the Israelites were captives in Babylon.  Their captors taunted them to sing, and they felt they could not do it.  Their joys, hopes, and dreams were left behind in their homeland.

Chronic pain and illness can feel like being exiled in a foreign land.  Our hopes and dreams have been crushed.  We may have been in this land of pain for so long that we don’t feel capable of singing.  The outlook for returning to our “promised land” of health may be bleak if not impossible.  This exile of pain may be our home for the rest of this earthly life – definitely not something to sing about.

In Jeremiah 29:4-7, the Lord told the Israelites to build homes, raise families, and even seek good for others living in that foreign land.  We can do the same.

Living in a land flowing with milk and honey is enjoyable, but it may not cause us to look to God for fulfillment.  Exile does.  Exile teaches us to adapt to change, to be thankful for even the smallest blessings, and to learn contentment in want rather than plenty.  Daily we see signs of God’s mercy and grace.  Exile also provides opportunities to help others in adjusting to this foreign land as we share lessons we have learned.

Our exile will end at some point.  When it does, will we be able to stand before the Lord and say we made the most of it for Him?  Even if we can’t literally sing, we can find other ways to bring praise and glory to God in this land of pain if we look for them.  And when our exile is over, our homecoming will be that much sweeter for the waiting.

Prayer:  O Lord, although I am in this seemingly exiled place of pain and suffering, You are still with me.  May I not let my exile defeat me or define who I am, but may I be refined by it and make the most of its lessons and opportunities.  Amen.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Running the Race of Pain

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever”
(I Corinthians 9:24).

Lately I have been reminded of the fact that I can’t run – or even walk well.  I have seen countless cars with stickers for running half or full marathons.  Two of my daughters ran in a mud run.  And our area is again hosting the Marine Corps Half Marathon race.

Years ago I exercised faithfully and enjoyed staying in shape.  Giving that up due to back pain was very difficult, and at times like these I still struggle with that loss.

As I noticed yet another marathon sticker, I realized that those of us with health problems run a race with pain every day.  Serious runners are in continual training mode and so are we.  This may involve our diets (because we can’t eat certain foods), our sleep (or lack of it), and our activities.  We are continually adjusting and reworking our lives to accommodate our limitations.  We live and breathe our training.

All of this is quite exhausting.  Yet at the end of each day, God enables us to win our race.  On less painful days the race may seem like a stroll through the park.  Other days it may be a marathon.  We may run this race on foot, with a cane, in a wheelchair, or in bed.  But whether we end the day standing up straight in victory or unable to stand at all, we have won.

I don’t need to envy any runners.  I am one.  One day I will be able to run a literal marathon and perhaps I will.  But somehow I don’t think that satisfaction will compare to the knowledge that right now I am persevering with God through my race of pain.  I want to keep running, regardless of how exhausted I am, until I run right up to God’s finish line and get that crown of life.  And because of His mercy and strength, I will.

Prayer:  Lord, you have chosen me to run in this race of pain.  Continue to give me the endurance and perseverance I need to run this race to the end, and to do it for Your glory.  Amen.