I’ve reached a point I never thought I could or would. I’m beginning to thank God for my pain. Even as nerve pain continues to radiate through my body I just can’t deny what I’m sensing and seeing. God is using my pain for my good, the good of others, and for His glory. Once you see God using even your deepest pain it’s hard to not celebrate what God is doing. I still don’t like any of it, but I’m finding so much joy in the midst of it.
Personally, my prayer life is reaching a height never before possible. I find myself living in constant pursuit of God not just when I need something, but because I know He is still at work. I’ve become so much more aware of His presence and I’m learning what it means to truly have peace even beyond your circumstance. God is drawing me closer as I’m learning to release total control of my life to Him. In fact, I’m learning how to trust that God is totally in control.
On top of the richness God is bringing within me He is doing such a great work around me. My struggle keeps creating a bridge of opportunity. One, I’m able to display to others that God can and will hold us together even in the midst of utter chaos. Two, I’m able to identify with the struggles of those around me in a way I could not before. And, finally I’m hearing testimony after testimony of how God is using my pain to encourage others in the midst of their pain.
How can I not celebrate the good God is doing? Even when things feel so bad I find such joy in knowing that God is working miracles. I’m finally learning what it means to take joy in your trials because you know that God is developing you and others through it. Let’s just admit it that apart from crisis most of us never find our way to the foot of the cross. Thank you God for allowing me to suffer in a way that can bring you such glory. Thank you for all You have done, are doing, and will do despite the suffering we face in this world.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you share the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)
It’s been well over a year since I’ve ever gotten an ounce of sleep without medication. Even still I’m thankful for rest any way I can get it. It’s my only chance at recharging and possibly healing. Asleep is the only time I’m totally without pain and some level of discomfort. Everyday I’m learning how to live without being at full strength and without my legs fully underneath me.
Anytime I get out of the bed I hit the floor with extreme heaviness in my legs. Even if I sleep eight or more hours I will feel like I’ve got weights tied to my ankles due to my nerve pain. God always gives me a reason to get up and the strength to get out the bed. Most days feel like eternity and like I’m dragging an extra person behind me. Therefore I try to shorten my days as much as possible.
Now, I honestly don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself. I don’t spend countless hours saying, Why God? But, I do ask God daily to help me not waste the platform he has given me. The struggle He has given me helps me identify with others who struggle. The struggle He has given me helps me to have greater compassion and grace towards others. The struggle He has given me keeps me driven to my knees and realizing I can’t even walk without Him holding my hand.
No matter what you’re going through there is always a reason. It may be the consequence of your sinful disobedience. But, it may be something God has allowed to grow you and reveal His greatness.
“ As Jesus went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
It really caught my attention the moment it was spoken. I certainly didn’t expect God to speak to me while I was watching ESPN’s coverage of the College Football Championship. But, then a sports analyst quoted the following words spoken by one of the winningest football coaches ever. Alabama’s Head Coach Nick Saban has said to his team all year “Don’t waste a failure.”
Wow! Those words are so huge and life altering when applied. We all know failure at certain levels can ruin someone if allowed. Failure can paralyze you from ever taking a huge leap of faith again. Failure can rob your confidence and steal your joy. Failure can define you or be the catalyst that refines you to be stronger than ever.
Trust me, I know what it feels like to fail. To let yourself down and many others in the process. There is no doubt that any huge level of failure brings with it grief that must be processed in time. But, in the midst of the disappointment I believe we actually learn more through failure than success.
As star running back Marcus Lattimore once said “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” You see, it’s in our lowest moments we learn what it really means to have faith in God. It’s in our moments of failure that we really learn what It really takes to succeed. Some look at failure as the end of the world. Others see failure as a lifetime lesson that teaches us things success could never do. Things like humility, hard work, resolve and endurance so that we might be more prepared for other challenges in life.
You see, satan wants our failures to haunt us the rest our lives. God wants our failures to be lessons that equip us to further succeed in life. Satan wants our failures to discourage and destroy us. God wants to use our failures to develop character and faith that can withstand any challenge ahead. So, in the powerful words of Nick Saban “Don’t waste a failure.”
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
January 7th, 2018
While I strive to allow God to use my pain and truly He has a purpose for it I absolutely hate the majority of my life right now. I hate constantly hurting, feeling uncomfortable, and not being able to live what used to be my normal life.
Now, when I see people it’s not that I’m putting on a fake smile. But, no doubt underneath it all I’m bleeding inside. Every morning, day and night revolves around my pain. It’s just so hard. And I’m beyond burnout with this journey.
Let me assure you I’m not thinking about taking my life or anything. But, I’m not gonna lie that for so long life has just completely sucked. And while I want to be near the end of this painful journey I have no idea whether there will be an end this side of Heaven. Not when after surgery and a spinal cord stimulator I most often feel just as bad as ever.
How can someone so blessed feel so miserable? Tonight I’m fighting to keep my eyes on Jesus. I’m fighting not to let the flesh take over in the midst of my misery. I feel I’ve got to get back to my counselor very soon. He just called today to check on me so maybe that’s my sign.
I’ve taken every medication I could tonight and I’m praying my body and soul settle down soon.
“Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak. Heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.”
Written: January 6th, 2018
I struggle these days to even describe how I feel. It’s nothing new I can tell you. The words freshly on my tongue are tormented, miserable, painful, perplexed, impatient, distracted, discouraged, exhausted, shocked and waiting on things to change. I feel like I’ve been waiting for eternity, but it’s actually only been 27 months and counting since nerve pain wrecked my former way of life.
If you’ve struggled with anything major for quite some time eventually you lose track of time. The only thing you know is it’s been way too long since you’ve felt normal. Yet, this life is full of having to embrace new normals. Constantly you’re having to deal with the “death” of life as you once knew it. And I’m afraid grief is often complicated as we try to find peace with our current situation.
After awhile of struggling you really don’t want to talk much about it. You know everybody has struggles and you don’t want to seem like the chief pessimist who is constantly complaining. Yet, I know firsthand that when something has a grip on your life it pretty much dictates your life. There isn’t a single moment not impacted by the struggle within you.
After awhile you feel you’ve been waiting forever at a bus stop. You’re wondering when God will swoop down and save the day. Eventually you wonder if He will ever change things back to how they used to be and feel. You long for things not to be such a fight.
It truly takes all that you have to free fall into the arms of Jesus and just trust Him. Especially when you’re so weak and wondering where this road will lead. But, then you’re reminded that God never asked you to figure anything out, but to fully trust Him to work it all out.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Written: January 5th, 2018
One of those nights I’m just exhausted and desperately needing mental rest. All I’ve done is work on this Sunday’s message since I woke up. I’ve stayed completely off social media purposely for the past two days so I could focus more on hearing God’s voice.
Of course the unexpected snow here in the Low Country has not led to the quietest house with everyone being stuck indoors. With my nerve damage I get so easily overwhelmed and anxious. This past Monday and Tuesday were two of my worst back to back days in quite sometime. All I could do was take some Valium and prayerfully cry things out.
No doubt that the cooler weather has sent shockwaves throughout my entire nervous system. I now wear two layers of clothing both day and night to keep my body warmer. It really has worked in keeping things bearable. But, one thing is certain this nerve pain is never going away apart from a miracle from God.
I can’t study like I used to. I can’t counsel like I used to. I can’t enjoy physical activities like I used to. I can’t do hospice like I used to. It’s now been over 2 years since I’ve seen a hospice patient. I’ve still not been cleared by my doctor to return back to work full time and they won’t let me come back part-time.
There are so many things I miss and have changed because of my back injury. Even still I’m determined to trust that God knows what He is doing. He turns accidents into appointments. He takes road blacks and makes them road ramps. He takes what feels so bad and works it all together for our good.
I give to you my brokenness both inside and out. I give you the past, present, and future. I know You have a plan. And whatever You want, I want. No matter how painful things feel in the present I thank You for what you’re doing in the midst of the pain. Please grant me the peace, strength, and faith to keep seeking Your will no matter what this life brings. Thank You for Your daily grace and mercy!
I’m Jesus Name I Pray!