Pain, Weakness, and Transformation

I sat there in unbelief…sort of shock really.  I mean, the news wasn’t earth-shattering.  I hadn’t been handed a death sentence.  But it was yet another reminder that I am definitely not in my twenties anymore and that I’m not getting any younger.

Apparently, the pain I’ve been experiencing in my lower back on my left side for almost 4 weeks straight was more than a pulled muscle or a pinched nerve.  I was told today that I have arthritis in my lower back and, of all things, a bone spur on my L5 vertebrae.  Granted it is MILD arthritis and an almost undetectable bone spur (I could hardly see it on the X-ray).  But, it’s there nonetheless.  The doctor has no idea why.  There’s nothing in how my spine is shaped that would explain why my L5 vertebrae would be under stress, causing the spur, especially at my age.   It’s just there. Kind of like my high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.  No family history…no none cause.  I just have it.

And, while the news didn’t really bother me at first, I must confess that I’m feeling….well…OLD, as I sit here on my heating pad.  Old, and a little down.  I don’t know why. I mean, this isn’t debilitating….I’m not crippled…..it won’t be my undoing.  So why is it such a big deal?

I think it bothers me because it seems to reinforce the lie that the enemy of my soul has whispered into my ear all my 41 years:  that I’m weak…that I’m frail…that I don’t have the necessary stuff to be a real man…that I’m an imposer that is intrinsically broken beyond repair.

Now, I’ve come a long way these past 25 years as a Christian.  I am learning that I am a son of God.  I’m part of His family, not a hired hand.  I’m coming to learn who I am and WHOSE I am, and it makes all the difference.  The Gospel does change everything.  But, days like today seem to lead me down a path of thinking that is amazingly effective in pulling my attention off the Gospel and onto my own shortcomings as a husband, a father, a pastor…as a man.  The frustrating thing is that I know better! I know that allowing my thoughts to get the best of me always leads me down the wrong path.   That voice whispering that I am worthless is nothing more than a lie….but, that lie is so convincing. I used to think I must be really messed up; I must be the ONLY PERSON who deals with that type of thinking.  Then, one day I read Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans.  And, I realized I was not alone; at least Paul understood me:

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15 (ESV)

That’st exactly what it’s like for me!  I know how I’m supposed to act; supposed to think; supposed to believe.  And, I’m getting better and better at it.  But, then, I get the legs knocked out from under me by arthritis and a bone spur.  And, the very thing I hate winds up being what I do…believing that I just don’t have what it takes.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Romans 7:21-24

Who WILL deliver me from myself?  Seems hopeless for me and for Paul, until we get to the next verse:

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  Romans 7:25 (ESV)

So, I’ve come full circle.  And, I realize that I AM weak; I AM intrinsically broken.  We all are!  We are all defective.  We all need deliverance….transformation.  And, thanks be to God the way was made through Jesus Christ our Lord!  In my weakness, He is strong!

So, tonight I’m praying.  I’m asking my Dad to heal my body because He wants to.  I’m repenting and asking His forgiveness for my short but real trip down a dark path in my thinking.  I’m asking for a deeper revelation of Jesus, my deliverer from this body of death, so I can become more like Him.  And, I’m trusting that in my weakest moments, He is strongest.

Yeah…he loves me just that much.

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8 thoughts on “Pain, Weakness, and Transformation

  1. Amen! Same thing I felt yesterday when doc said I have osteoarthritis in my knee with several bone spurs. I rebuked that report and took comfort in knowing my Father made me, he can heal and comfort me all the same. Thanks for sharing! Renee

    1. Thanks for reading, Eric. When you hit it big time and you’re on award shows for your music and your name is in lights, I’m going to capitalize on the fact that you commented on my blog!!! It’ll be like gold in my pocket! Love you, man.

  2. Pastor Tim, I wish to share a story with you. I am not telling you this as means of insulting you, but rather as a means of opening your eyes. I am the youngest of four. My father passed away when I was two years old. Two of my older brothers had already moved out. Thus, when my father passed, it left her alone with a two year old girl and a teenage boy. As soon as my brother turned 18, he moved out. I was six at the time. Now, I am alone with my mother. I forgot to mention, we live on a farm. My brother left a six year old and a 56 year old woman to effectively operate a farm. Despite the odds, we did. I was put to work at age four (my older brother had already begun to refuse to work at that time). I soon grew a strong back. Today, at age 18, I have back problems from years of abusing it because I had no choice but to do so. Have I went to the doctor? No, I don’t have a chance with my now busy college life. By the way, I am a freshmen here in Berea. I have now left the farm; I left my 62 year old mother alone to work it. Granted, before I left she got rid of the animals that require the most work, like goats. My mother is 62, and has a bad back, not just a back that requires a couple pain pills and a few minutes on the heating pad, but a back that requires she take two extremely strong pills, two back braces, and sleeping on the heating pad at night. Now that it is winter, she has to drive the tractor to feed the cows a roll of hay. That act kills her. We don’t have the luxury of having a tractor with a cab. Yes, Pastor Tim, she has arthritis, not just in her back, but also in her hands. To top it all off, my mother is a diabetic. Her memory is failing her. Yet, she works. Everyday. From sun up to sundown. She toils away, caring for her animals. In this aspect, my mother is the most inspirational person in my life.

    Myself, I am 18. I have arthritis in my hip, something wrong with my back, and a set of lungs that are weak (I get respiratory infections commonly. I get lightheaded often. etc). I have days where I think “what the heck? I am so young, yet I hurt so badly.” Then, I remember my mother who is no doubt out in the cold preparing for the cold front.

    I also wish I could put GOD in this story, but my mother is not a Christian. However, I can tell a story of how he saved her life. Last year, my mother was in a terrible bus accident that GOD intervened and saved her life. In the hospital, her doctor stated in his notes that he did not expect her to make it, but she did and she is still working away. As always.

    Pastor Tim, I would like to thank you for you story that you posted; however, when I read it, I couldn’t help but think of my mother and the intense pain she is always in. Thank you for reading.

    1. Thanks BriAnna for your comments. I am not insulted and most certainly didn’t intend to minimize anyone’s suffering, or to inflate mine. So I apologize if I came across as insensitive, uncaring, or even a bit petty. I have dear friends engaged in life or death struggles, everyone from a young man battling leukemia to a friend’s 8-year-old granddaughter diagnosed with terminal cancer just this week. So, I am painfully aware that my struggles pale in comparison to many people. But, I don’t think that disqualifies me from learning from the pain I endure, just because there is worse pain in the world. It shouldn’t minimize the lessons God is able to teach me because of it. Thanks for sharing and I am going to commit to pray for your mother and for you. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for you to see her struggle with such pain!

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