Saturday, June 20, 2015

How Are You Fighting the Battles Against Pain and Suffering?

“May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands” (Psalm 149:6).

Independence Day is approaching here in the United States. Some signs of the holiday include televised war movies, historical re-enactments, and fireworks displays. These are all reminders of battles fought for freedom.

In our war with pain and suffering, we fight battles every day. So how are we fighting these battles? This verse mentions a very important weapon of warfare – praise. Praising God is a double-edged sword. A double-edged sword wields greater power than a single-edged sword because it can strike in several directions simultaneously. And many times we do face multiple attacks at once from which we long to be free – attacks of physical pain, depression, insecurity, lack of self-worth, fears, and many others, including the normal difficulties and problems of life.

Although praise is certainly not the only way to overcome these enemies, it is an important and powerful one. I find the best way to apply this concept is to have some favorite Scripture verses of praise on hand at all times. When I am in the midst of a difficult battle - whether it’s pain-related or not - I speak these words of praise and pray for the faith to believe them. God will honor that. I may still be wounded but I will not be defeated.

I don’t know how many soldiers have used praise in their battles for freedom, but I do know that in my life battles, it’s one of the most important weapons for attacking the enslavements that pain and suffering can bring. So I will lift my sword of praise and be, as one commentary described it, a blend of chorister and crusader. And I will persevere in the knowledge of the eternal freedom that is coming.

Prayer: O God, You know how I long to be free from my pain and suffering and how weary I become fighting my battles with them. I ask for the diligence and desire to praise You in these battles. And I ask that You strengthen me and keep my faith strong until my war is over. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Are You Growing Weeds or Flowers Among the Rocks of Pain and Illness?

“See to it that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many”
 (Hebrews 12:15).

Near our back yard is an unsightly storm drain for our neighborhood. It was overgrown with weeds when we moved in last summer. The Homeowners’ Association placed a load of large rocks over the grate last fall to improve its appearance, which I greatly appreciated.

This spring, big weeds began growing up among the rocks. Some of these weeds had stems and roots the size of small tree branches. As I was pulling them up recently (resulting in several days of back pain which I should have known would happen!), I thought about how much easier it is to grow weeds than flowers.

Those rocks remind me of my health issues. Pain and suffering are like big stones that weigh me down. It is easy for me to allow weeds to grow through these stones – weeds of bitterness, discontent, anger, envy, hopelessness, faithlessness, and many others. 

Some of these roots are quite large at times. Thankfully the Holy Spirit continually prompts me to adjust my attitudes and pull these weeds out so they don’t overrun my life.

Not too far from these rocks are another group of rocks. There are weeds there as well, but there are also a few flowers that have managed to push through the rocks and bloom, showing that it is possible for certain flowers to grow poor conditions.

The rocks of pain and suffering are heavy to bear. Unsightly weeds of negativity can grow up easily through these rocks. Flowers of faith and beauty are more difficult to sustain, but they can be grown if we persevere and keep reaching for the Son.

I don’t know about you, but I would much rather live with flowers than weeds.   

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, You know the weight of my pain and problems. I confess that in my attitude toward my suffering, weeds are much easier for me to grow than flowers. Help me to persevere and push through my stones of suffering with faith and not bitterness. Amen.