Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Irony of Ironies & The Sovereignty of God

Speaking of chronic pain, if I believed in chance, I'd say, "What are the odds that the very night I wrote my last post I'd get a neck spasm? But I don't, so I won't. In addition to the chronic neck pain, muscle spasms were a big part of the on-going pain I had for years. At its worst, I'd get them maybe 8-10 times a year. The majority of the time they happened at night and they ranged from moderately painful to I'm-pretty-sure-a-truck-ran-over-me-in my-sleep type of pain. The latter being so painful that I could not move without tears and could not hold my head up in a standing position for the better part of a day. Usually it took a few days until the knife-like stabbing pain went away and a good week till I felt semi-normal again. Thankfully, this last one wasn't like that.

But back to the fact that I don't believe in chance (luck, fate, karma, kismet, happenstance). I've written a lot on the sovereignty of God in my last blog. I can't help it, I LOVE THAT GOD IS SOVEREIGN! I love that He doesn't just "allow" things to happen but he "controls" what happens. Chapter lll of the Westminster Confession of Faith states:

"God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."

I know this is a difficult teaching, but it is found throughout Scripture:

Who has spoken and it came to pass unless the LORD commanded it. Is it not from the Most High that good and bad happen?" - Lamentations 3:37-38

"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." - Proverbs 16:9

"The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD." - Proverbs 16:33 

When I first began to study the sovereignty of God in Scripture, it was a hard teaching. After all, this means that if God ordains ALL things, this would include sinful acts! How can he do this without taking away man's accountability? How can He do this without being guilty of sin Himself?  This is very deep teaching and I want to explore this in my next post. Like I said, at first it was hard to fathom, but now it brings me great peace and comfort. After all,  if God ordains all things, and works all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purposes, what do I have to fear? And in case I would be tempted to think his sovereignty didn't apply to my chronic pain:

 "Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good." - 1 Peter 4:19

 "....we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." - Romans 5:3-5

I'm glad this last incident with my neck wasn't that bad. I'm very thankful that the pain was minimal and the duration short. I believe a big reason for that is the book that I read, which I mentioned in my last post. But the main reason is GOD, who ordained this book be put into my hands. So I first and foremost thank Him.

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thes 5:18

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

God's Purpose in my Chronic Pain

On my old blog, I wrote quite a bit about the chronic neck pain I was having several years ago. What started out as annoying, intermittent pain gradually became continuous, chronic pain and made sleeping (and living) a pain in the neck. Ha! I went to chiropractors, physical therapy, and motion therapy. Some of it helped a little. For awhile. In addition to the neck pain, I eventually began having intermittent burning sensations throughout my whole upper body and ended up in the emergency room one day. They referred me to a neurologist who diagnosed me (in about 5 min) with Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome.

Long story short, someone gave me a book by John Sarno, M.D. (thank you, Lord - and Terri). It's called Healing Back Pain but it's about a lot more than back pain. It's about the connection between chronic pain and stress. After several years of chronic pain, God used this book to heal me. I'm still definitely susceptible to this type of pain but when I start to feel pain, I can actually feel the pain leave when I focus on what I learned in this book.

Without a doubt, I believe God appointed this trial specifically for me. It's so encouraging to me to trust in this God who works all things together for my good. Looking back, I can see how he used this pain to:

a) Turn my attention from what's not important to what is.

b) Show me my utter helplessness and dependence upon him.

c)  Get me on a medication that put 30 lbs on me and helped to begin a process to free me from some things I've battled since my teen years (see old blog)

I've been off any meds for 3 years and if I had to put a number on it, I'd say I'm 90% improved, which is amazing. But even more amazing is the incredible way in which my heavenly Father continuously works in my life to painstakingly free me from the sins that entangle me and turns my eyes upon the most satisfying treasure in the universe. Him.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." - Matthew 13:44