There have been times when I've been in a lot of pain. Last night, I finally just cried. Not just because I hurt, because the severity of the pain isn't always terrible. In fact, it's mostly tolerable. I can grit my teeth and take the pain. But when you can't ever escape the pain...when it never goes away, day after day, hour after hour, a constant unwelcome companion...at some point, you realize that you are just so tired of hurting.
The pain medicine works, but only if you take enough of it. The doctors are always concerned about addiction, so they didn't give me enough medicine. With my family being apparently genetically predisposed to gifted addicts, I have a hyper- awareness of the risks. I grew up surrounded by addicts, and still interact intimately (inside and outside of my family) with the devastating consequences of being addicted to a drug. I understand why doctors are stingy with this stuff. I'm not upset or mad about it. I'm just tired of hurting.
More that the pain, my entire plan for my annual study break, vacation, workout schedule and fitness plan - all of these are just shot. Much of my work is affected. Susan, my kids and our church all pay a price for my situation. It's easy to feel guilty about something that was completely beyond my control.
In fact, it's not hard to get really down about the whole thing. If I wanted to make a list of all the ways this just SUCKS (forgive me), I could write a series of blog posts focusing on all of the negatives! In fact, even as I was finishing this blog post, I stopped so that I could attend PCC's online service, but I couldn't get the stream to work! It's easy to feel like nothing is working right!
But make no mistake about it... perspective is CRITICALLY important. It is within MY capacity to determine MY mindset. (The same is true for you!) I can be negative and spend my energy focusing on all the ways I've been cheated, mistreated and deprived. Woe is me!
OR, I can CHOOSE another perspective. I'm determined that I'm NOT going to live in the darkness of my mind or my circumstances. I can decide NOT to live there...not to allow my thoughts to focus or dwell on those negative things. In the midst of his great struggle, Jeremiah the prophet wrote, "Yet, this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness!" (Lamentations 3:21-23).
And the Apostle Paul inspires me with the words he wrote while unjustly imprisoned and awaiting execution: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Phil 4:8).
And the Psalmist wrote, "...I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done." (Ps 143:5).
So, as I reflect on my life and my trouble, I choose to see the good that God has done in my life, in spite of my current condition. I am blessed with the support of a great family and good friends and a strong church and modern medicine. I am blessed with a job and insurance and some savings that allow me to emerge on the other end of this without having financial disaster. I'm blessed with the great probability of another summer - a better summer - next year. And I stand in the memory of a magical summer last year.
God is good...ALL the time! When I'm free of pain and when I'm hurting; When I can see a solution to my condition and when I cannot; When I know what's coming and when I don't. I will think about what is true, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. I will meditate on all the works that God has done in my life. I will claim the truth: that I cannot be consumed by what is bad, because God's compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is God's faithfulness!