Not A Moment To Lose: Praising God In Times Of Pain

with 13 Comments

I think anyone who has lived in continual pain or discomfort for any period will agree that remaining hopeful is difficult.  Our hope can be as erratic as sun and clouds – one minute shining, the next hidden.  One minute our eyes are fixed in faith on a light at the end of the tunnel, then the next we feel as if we’ve been wandering around in darkness forever with no chance of ever getting out.

 

As I mentioned in my previous post, September – Half a Nutshell, I’ve been struggling with reoccurring pain.  As I also mentioned in that post, especially in late September, God spoke to me and comforted me about this and renewed my hope.  I began to think maybe it would lift soon.

 

Then October started, and I mentally watched another month start to disappear under more discomfort.  This past week has been very difficult, not only physically – but mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I have been in pain.  I think anyone who has struggled with reoccurring illness or pain will understand what I’m saying.

 

Last night, I was getting completely overwhelmed.  What bothers me even more than pain is not being useful, not being able to accomplish anything.  I have been very limited in what I’ve been doing lately.  I was panicked as I considered how I was going to lose and waste even more time to this pain.

 

And then I realized an amazingly simple truth.  I had known it before, but the Holy Spirit made it new in my heart.

 

Time spent in humble prayer cannot be wasted time.

 

At the end of my life, or perhaps in that brief moment before He “wipes away every tear,” I will not be wishing I had worked more, written more, traveled more – no –

 

I’ll wish that I had prayed more.

 

I felt as if a boulder had been rolled off my shoulders.  My biggest fear was alleviated.  I was so overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude that life was not “passing me by.”  I didn’t have to look upon it as months of my life, a quarter of 2017, wasted and spent doing nothing.

 

If I prayed in detail for every family member, every extended family member, every friend and friend of friend, our nation, the War on Terror, the persecuted Church, the Body of Christ – not to mention whatever the Holy Spirit might bring to me through the gift of tongues –

If I pray in detail for all of this, I could fill every minute of the day – I can be quite busy – in my spirit.

 

I believe, with everything in me, that C.S Lewis was correct in saying that we know Him a little here so that we might know Him there better.  I believe our walk here will be a direct parallel with how well we know Him in Heaven, how close we are to Him.  And I want to be close, so very close.

So even though pain does not come from the Lord – this time where I am unable to do my normal work can be an amazing gift to me.  I haven’t had something taken from me, He has given time back to me; time to draw close to Him, time to grow in Him, time to listen.

 

The scriptures tell us to offer up the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15).

Praising God for a good day, health, or something we wanted coming to pass is easy; praising Him in hard times is not so easy, that’s why the Bible calls it a sacrifice.  I think that praise offered to God at these times is not only sweeter to Him, but it is like medicine for us – an antioxidant for life and all its sin and hardness.

 

But when a truth really reaches me, when He whispers a reality into my ear so clearly, praise comes easily to me.

 

As it began to flow out of me, peace began to flow in.  I went into the bathroom and just stood there saying over and over again:  “You’re so beautiful,” tears streaming down my face as I thought about Him instead of myself.

 

How easy it was to switch tracks and turn the train.  In a few moments I went from crying about me, to weeping over Him.

 

I had known He was with me and yet, I felt alone.  But suddenly I felt Him, as clearly as I felt my own skin.

 

Have you ever had the Holy Spirit suddenly overcome you?  It’s the most amazing, exhilarating and comforting feeling in the world and it’s almost always when you least expect it.  It’s like the love of your life suddenly swept through the door to surprise you.

 

This last month and a half, I felt like a woman walking endlessly up and down the beach with a metal detector, always looking for gold but making do with dimes until suddenly, without warning, she finds buried treasure.

 

I get so wrapped up in asking the Great Physician for results, I forget who He is.  As I stood there, overwhelmed by Him, not by what He’s done and can do, I began to sing two songs under my breath, “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful,” and “I Stand In Awe Of You.”

 

If you truly slow down and contemplate the words to I Stand In Awe Of You, it says He is TOO wonderful.  How can anything be too wonderful?  Too marvelous for words?  Only Him.  He is TOO BIG to fit into those small, finite words.  He is beyond us, beyond everything.

 

Most Christians, when they are thanking God, thank Him for what He has done (dying for us, living for us) and we absolutely, categorically should praise Him without ceasing for this.

 

But will we praise Him just for who He is?  Just because He is worthy of praise?  Not because of ANYTHING He has done, but because of His character?  Because He is so beautiful, so perfect, so terrible, so amazing, that we simply want to gaze at Him and worship – and not ask for or expect anything – including salvation – because we are overwhelmed with awe?

 

At 3 am on a Sunday morning, I was filled with peace and joy – I returned to bed almost bursting, smiling, tears still flowing.  I laid down to sleep in peace, because I have looked upon someone that makes me and this world shrivel away.  I was an artist looking at something so beautiful, no one can ever capture it, because it is Beauty Himself.  He is everything I am not, He is God – He is everything I’ve been searching for all my life.

 

This is a hard life and God can’t or won’t always “kiss it and make it better.”  And yet . . . He does kiss me (in His own way) – He shares intimate love with my soul . . . and yes, He does make me better day by day.

~

Wednesday through Friday, I spent the time fasting certain things, entreating God for guidance on this situation – on what was causing it and if there was something I needed to change.  Saturday morning I was frustrated, because there didn’t seem to be any clear answer.

 

But after any time seeking God, if you are open and truly seeking, if you are fasting and looking to Him, some clarity will come, if we are open to receiving an answer that might not be the one we were seeking because we “ask with the wrong motives.”

 

Some of you know that reoccurring pain is a constant battle.  The war is not won once – it ebbs and flows – one battle after another, good days and bad.

But today, I have chosen it to be a good day – and my prayer this Sunday is about Him.  I don’t know what’s going to attack me tomorrow, or even this evening – but right now, this is my prayer.

 

O Lord Please Light The Fire

That Once Burned Bright And Clear

Replace The Lamp Of My First Love

That Burns With Holy Fear

 

Praise God for the cup of mercy in hard times.  At least for today: “He has restored to me the joy of my salvation.”  Psalm 51:12

 

In every inspirational photograph I’ve ever seen – you always see the person in a particular pose, head up, arms wide.

Look up, lift up your eyes, peel your arms away from your heart and open your arms wide.  Let your mouth praise Him – not because of His promises, not because of what you want or need from Him, but because of who He is.

 

 

I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.  Psalm 81:10

 

If you have entered a season in your life with more time than usual on your hands – pray and ask Him how you should pray.  There’s not a moment to lose.

 

 

13 Responses

  1. Elsie Stoltzfus
    | Reply

    Oh Alli.
    You have no idea what this means to me. As I told you, I have a chronic auto immune disease that has kept me in different states of general unwellness (anything from depression to arthritic pain) for the last three years. And there is no sure cure, so unless one comes up in my lifetime, I will most likely have it my whole life.

    So this post means. So. Much. It’s true. It is so, so true.

    I can’t say if your pain will get better or not, but please have courage. And if you ever need anyone to talk to, I’m here.

    • AllisWell
      | Reply

      Elsie! 🙁 ‘hugs’ – Yes; it grieves me so much to know that.

      I dealt with this particular thing for two years, every day, but then started to get a lot of relief, but it’s something that comes back and I’m very sensitive too – something I’ll have to watch constantly.

      When I first spoke to you, I saw the acceptance and courage in your eyes, I saw the maturity in your face that comes from struggling and then laying down our arms and I sense the sweetness of what you have learned. When I met you in Linden, I was amazed by your energy and positivitiy – and I understand in the smallest, smallest way, how and why we must keep going in that fashion. You are an amazing person and it has been a gift to know you.

      I had tears running down my face this morning as I read my comments; I am so humbled and grateful that this post might have encouraged you in a small way.

      Thank you for being my friend, thank you for talking – and for listening! You are faithfully in my prayers, always! <3

  2. Christine
    | Reply

    (Your blog still doesn’t let me do long comments so I’m splitting this up.)

    Pt.1

    Oh my. Allison. *clutches heart* I wish I could properly express to you how much this post means to me.

    See, I’ve struggled with health issues my whole life. I have a severely deformed mitral valve that makes me much weaker than the average human. I tire so easily, and just have all sorts of fatigue problems. Plus I struggle with a handful of other health issues. Altogether I’m just nooot a healthy person. And I hate it. I hate how I’d never be able to handle a full time job and sometimes I have a hard time even keeping up with my writing because I’m always exhausted and suffer headaches. Sometimes I feel like my life is a waste.

    But then, when I get with God, I realize something: I wouldn’t trade it. Yes, I’d love to be a healthy person, but I couldn’t bear the idea of trading all the growth, all the lessons I’ve learned about my God, because of my health problems. I’d be such a different person, and I don’t want to be a different person.

    • Christine
      | Reply

      Pt.2

      My life is not a waste as long as I spend it growing closer to God each day, because that’s our ultimate purpose on this earth. Not to do thousands of good works, but to just constantly grow closer to our God. As you so beautifully put it: “Time spent in humble prayer cannot be wasted time.”

      It’s not about us and what we’ve done. It’s about HIM. What you said struck me so, SO hard. We should praise Him just for being HIM. Yes, yes, YES to everything you said! It’s good to thank Him for all He’s done for us, of course. But we also just need to be thankful for HIM. No matter the hardships we experience in this life, God is God. And we should have eternal joy just in that truth.

      This whole post is going to make me cry. I desperately needed these words. Thank you for being such a beautiful vessel for Him, Allison. You’ll be in my prayers, sweet girl! <3

      • AllisWell
        | Reply

        Dear Christine – I knew for a little about some of this terrible struggle, because of some intimations on your blog and on Faith Thompson’s blog. My dear, girl – I think about you so much –you are an inspiration to me.

        I would never, EVER, compare what I am struggling with to what you are going through, but one of the things I do struggle constantly is head pain (sometimes continual) and exhaustion.

        Yes, yes, yes – that is so true. I would not be the person I am today without this pain. I would not trade this high place, this maturity, this surrender for ANYTHING. “In His Light, there is light.” – in dark places, I have the most amazing and precious jewels that people will walk over every day without even knowing their existence. There are days when (sometimes throughout a day I can swing wildly from hope to anger) I hate struggling with this – but I would NOT know Him, love him, seek Him and feel Him as I do now without this struggle. The Lord does not take away without giving something in return – and the more that is “taken away”, the more precious the replacement – and I sense that preciousness in you, Christine.

        Yes – it’s NOT about us – we are merely puzzle pieces, paint in the hand of a Master Painter, all designed for HIS purpose and HIS will, for HIS glory. But being young, it’s hard not to think that “this isn’t fair.” I expect health and happiness should be ours automatically – when I am making demands of a terrible and Almighty God.

        Christine – what YOU have said, made me cry this morning. I went on an Internet fast after I posted this and didn’t see all my comments till now. I had actually hesitated to post this and after I did, I kept thinking maybe it was stupid, or pointless. I am so humbled to think that this post might have encouraged you in a small way.

        You are an inspiration to me, your blog is a constant source of joy and peaceful energy to me. You are beautiful inside and out – and it has been a privilege to know you.

        You are in my prayers as well! <3

        • AllisWell
          | Reply

          And YES, YES, YES. As Christians, we can get so consumed with “our purpose” our “mission”, our “destiny” – we forget that our whole purpose, our main objective is to draw closer to Him! And the only way to do that is by spending time with Him. “Prayer does not prepare us for the greater work, prayer IS the greater work.”

          My mom pointed out once – wondering how far and how wide the Lord must search looking for Christians who are willing to PRAY and LISTEN…most of them are too busy doing things and accomplishing things “for Him” – that they won’t listen.

          Lord, here we are – my three precious sisters in Christ and me – send us! <3

          • Christine
            |

            You have done it again! First your post, now your comment. You have touched me so deeply! I…I don’t even have the proper words. I just had to say THANK YOU for your precious comment. It made my heart swell! And thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for your prayers. Nothing makes me feel more loved than knowing people are praying for me. Lifting me up to our almighty God.

            You’re in my prayers, too, sweet girl! I hope you’re doing well! <333

          • AllisWell
            |

            <3 <3 That makes me so, SO happy Christine - thank you! I am so grateful too to know that many people that i have met online are now lifting me up in prayer as well - how wonderful and how blessed it is to be able to lift one another up to our Heavenly Father!

            Aww - 'hugs gently' - THANK YOU, Christine! I can't tell you how much I appreciate that and how precious it is to know that I am in your prayers. <3

  3. Mary
    | Reply

    Wonderful, wonderful post, dear Allison!! Thank you for being so open and sharing your heart, life, struggles, and spiritual experience.

    I can completely relate to your experience in the first paragraph you wrote here, and my heart goes out to you. Our present sufferings bring a great reward and are not worth comparing to the glory to come. But they are incredibly hard while we remain here!

    But I’m so glad that in your hardship, God has been so faithful to meet you in such a powerful and amazing way!! I’ve found in my own life as well that the times of the most pain and suffering, when I have nothing left but God, are the times when I am closest to Him, to the point of being driven to Him as my only refuge. And that is as it should be. 🙂 I’m so thankful that He uses the worst things for His greatest purposes!

    You’re continually in my thoughts and prayers, sweet friend! Love you!! ❤

    Mary

    • AllisWell
      | Reply

      Thank you, sweet Mary! <3

      I had actually hesitated to post at first because I was so open - I wondered if it was TOO open - but I am so glad that I did - so glad that I could share with you and maybe encourage you in a small way.

      Other Christians used to guilt me, telling me I had to learn how to "defend my faith," (something that I'm not terribly good at - logical arguments) - but as someone said "God doesn't need defense attorneys, He needs witnesses." All I can do is share what God has done for me, I can't make somebody believe or change - but I can share continually how much I love Him and how much He loves me.

      You know how my heart constantly goes out to you in all that you are facing! <3 These past few weeks have helped me to understand your struggles more clearly. And YES - none of us here will face this forever - one day, we'll step through that Stable Door and be free.

      YES - Amen. It's during the storms, that we most keenly feel and need our anchor - otherwise, when we are doing well, it's easy to forget Him! 🙁 -

      You are ALWAYS in my thoughts and prayers, noble maiden! Love you! <3

      Alli

      • AllisWell
        | Reply

        I’ll always remember how we met. Through prayer! (and CS and RS :D) – our spirits connected so quickly. I’m so grateful for you – for your maturity, your sweetness, your questing heart! <3

  4. Mary
    | Reply

    Awwww, big hugs!!! Thank you too, sweet Allison! AMEN to all that you said!!!

    Openness takes courage, but it is so, so needed. Cause we all have struggles, but not everyone talks about them. When a few people do, with truth and light, it encourages all of us!

    Yes, I’m so thankful too for God bringing us together in a deep and sweet friendship!! Same back to you! 🙂 Love you, fairy godmother! <3

    Mary

    • AllisWell
      | Reply

      “hugs back”. <3

      Thank you, Mary! Your words mean so much to me!

      Amen! Yes, "I have not stopped giving thanks for you!". Love you, Noble Maiden Fair! <3

      Alli

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