Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Troubles - Light & Momentary? Really?

Yesterday after church I was talking to my pastor, Barbara, about the IC pain that I have been having and some of the struggles that I have been going through.  I told her that I have been thinking a lot about living an eternal life now, and how being conscious of my immortality might change the way I think and feel about my life, and the things that I go through.  I added that this has been an especially powerful concept when it comes to the problem of pain.  She was understanding, and very sympathetic, and I told her, "Well, you know, I seem to always have to live through what I am writing about..."

As Grace and I walked on to the car, it occurred to me, "Huh. If that's true, maybe it's time to start writing about monkeys.  Or rainbows and skittles.  And puppies."

Anything but pain.

Alas, that is not to be.  The problem of pain is such a relevant one, and it is universal.  We all suffer.  This is an issue that has been tackled by some of Christianity's greatest minds, and at least two of my favorite authors, in The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis and Where Is God When It Hurts? by Philip Yancey.  I have read both of these books, and they have been an important part of my journey into acceptance, if not understanding, of the pain that I live with. 

All I know is what I live and how God works in my life.  I have written before that I have not known a day without physical pain for many years.  I think the same may apply to emotional pain.  Recently, one reader suggested that God may be punishing me. This was presented in vague anonymity, as such messages tend to be.  I heard what they were saying, and respectfully had to disagree, but not because I don't think I deserve punishment.  I wrote about the idea of God's justice and punishment for sin here , in a post called Following Jesus.  In fact, the few posts before this one talk about how I became a follow of Jesus, for anyone who is interested.

But I digress.  No, I do not believe that God is punishing me, although I do acknowledge that He has cause.  Punishment is about hurting someone for hurting us. An eye for an eye.  Discipline, on the other hand, is redemptive, which is just a churchy way of saying that it is meant to teach us, and bring us closer to God. 

When Grace was little, and even now, the thing that usually brings her to me with a confession if she has done something wrong is the feeling that by disobeying me or doing something that might hurt me, she has distanced herself from me, and that feeling is very painful for her.  It's no picnic for me either.  It's the same when we argue and say rude things to each other.  We are divided, separated, and it hurts.  So, we confess, apologize, reach out to each other and make it better.  I rarely used to implement a "punishment" for Grace if, as a child, she came to me and willingly confessed something. After all, the point of discipline is to get us to the place of knowing what we have done and being sorry about it.  That's, in a sense, redemptive. It's about saving the relationship.  And that is what God does with us.  His goal is to establish, or restore our relationships to Him.  I welcome God's discipline.  I certainly need it.  I treasure my relationship with Him and don't want anything to mess with that.

So...back to pain.  And immortality. 

2 Corinthians 4:16 - 18 says this:

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Light and momentary troubles.  Eternal glory.

Think about it.

It just so happens that I am having bladder spasms right now.  Imagine a charley horse in your pelvic area.  I don't know why it happens, but I have theories, most of which would take us into the realm of "too much information", so we'll skip that. It doesn't matter anyway.  All that matters is that until things calm down, I am almost doubled over with pain.  Light? Momentary? It certainly doesn't feel that way. It won't go on for long, but the pain is so extreme that even the hour or two that it will take to stop it will feel like years.

As my daughter so eloquently puts it, our feelings may be real, but they are not always a true representation of reality.  And from where I am sitting (very uncomfortably, I might add), the only way this trouble is is ever going to seem light and momentary is in the view of one thing...eternity. 

More later.... 

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