Posts Tagged ‘pain’

(Photo: Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat)

(Photo: Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat)

Yesterday was a hard day.  Actually, this past week has been a hard week.  And I don’t just mean for me.  We’ve got a community, a high school, friends, family and relatives who are grieving.  The pain runs deep, especially when life is cut short.  Questions loom large and answers seem nowhere to be found.  Trying to make sense of tragedy seems to always be futile.

It’s times like these that 1 Corinthians 13:12 seems like the understatement of the Bible.  “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.”  Imperfectly for sure.  Like looking through a foggy window.  Like trying to see clearly through those shower doors with obscure, rippled glass.

But I take great comfort knowing that one day I will see clearly.  We all will.  We will see as God sees.  But until then we are left squinting.  Until then we have to find comfort in our limited perspective knowing that His eyesight and perspective is perfect.  This gives me hope.

And hope is what we are all ultimately looking for… especially in the midst of a tragedy like we have experienced this past week.  You see, whether you realize it or not, deep down we are all hopeful people. Every single one of us wants something or someone to believe in. We do this all the time – every day. We put our hope in small things and big things. We put our hope in people or in relationships. We put hope and dreams toward the future and what will come next. Life would be pretty miserable without hope.

And it is just a time like this that we look at the world and things don’t seem to make sense and we wonder what’s going on. We can find ourselves having more questions than we have answers. We can find ourselves thinking that the darkness is darker than the light… and it can cause us to be hopeless.

But the truth is, ultimate hope exists.  I’ve found it for myself.  It’s a hope that has carried me through some very dark and painful times. I’ve found a hope that has carried me through times where I have felt hopeless. In the midst of these questions that don’t have easy answers I do believe a few things. I do believe that God is real, He is alive and He has not abandoned us. I do believe that in the midst of all the pain, confusion and tragedy, God is still here. And I believe that He is good and His plan is good.

Even in the middle of suffering there is hope.  And God knows this and has also felt this.  No one understands suffering more that God does.  He watched as the world abandoned Him and turned to their own path.  He knows what it feels like to lose a child as He was willing to sacrifice His one and only son.  Why?  So that we could have hope.

And this ultimate hope is Jesus.  Jesus came so that we could have hope.  Hope that was found in His life, in His death and ultimately in His resurrection from the grave.  You see in those events, He defeated the power of death.  He demolished the stronghold of sin.  He points to hope of the resurrection and the fact that life doesn’t end here when our physical life here on earth is over.

That is why I can be hopeful through the tears and the pain.  That is why I can feel the weight of what has happened and still be hopeful.  Because there is coming a day when all things will be made new. All of creation will be healed. One day, there will be no more mourning. There will be no more pain. There will be no more death. The world will finally be as it’s supposed to be.

Have you found ultimate hope?  If not, I’d love the opportunity to talk with you.  The tragedy of this week has served as a wake up call for all of us to evaluate our life and to cling tightly to those we love.  But let it also allow you to search your heart to see what you are hoping in.  Jesus is His name.  He is ultimate hope.

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gain through pain

Posted: September 6, 2014 in Family Life
Tags: , , , ,

imageYou know the old saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” or “no pain, no gain.”  I definitely find some merit in those statements and I have found them to really be true in my life in many areas.  But when the tables are turned and it is your son having to experience the pain in hopes of some gain, everything changes.  

I took Cole to his physical therapy appointment last week (and we are very grateful to the team at TOC for their awesome care).  I knew going in that it was scheduled for the therapy room and not the pool… which that was hard news to break to Cole as he loves the pool part of rehab.  Going to the therapy room involves some fun, but also involves some pain.

Dr. Killian wanted Cole to reach 90% in flexibility and range of motion in both his right knee and right hip.  I’m not sure any of us expected him to achieve this goal so quickly.  He was able to do this weeks ago, and in return, start walking without his leg immobilizer.  He still uses his pediatric walker to get around, but this past week at therapy, his PT suggested leaving the walker behind so he can continue to strengthen his hip and ability to walk.  

image-1At therapy, Cole works on balancing exercises, some flexibility exercises, but then comes the dreaded time of getting on the table for stretching.  Aside from Perthes breaking down the bone structure in his hip, it caused some of the tendons to shrink (resulting in a tenotomy during surgery) and then being in the cast for over a month did a number on his muscles.  But these are still the problem areas that will continue to need work.   And that is where there is pain.  I watched as he winched, muscles spasmed and his face visibly showed the pain of pushing his muscles beyond their current range of flexibility.  And his PT reminded him how important her stretching his muscles were despite the pain it causes him.

It’s hard to watch someone you love in pain – especially one of your kids.  I had to fight back the urge to grab him up off the table and just run out the door.  But as a father, you try to bring comfort and perspective to your son so that he can see that there is actually gain through the pain.  The pain has a purpose.  We say in our student ministry all the time that “God never wastes a pain.”  There is a purpose behind the trials He orchestrates for our lives.  James 1:2-4 tells us, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

There is a completion or maturity that would appear is only available through trials – through pain. I’d be the first to admit that I would much rather reach maturity or completion via a softer, more gentle, pain-free route… but Scripture doesn’t seem to make provisions for that route.  Rather, we are reminded, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  And the “all things” would certainly include pain in our life.  

So Cole will continue to face pain in the weeks, months and possibly years ahead.  But just like in life, we frame out the pain with a purpose.  A purpose that will God-willing ultimately bring strength and healing to his leg.  And even in the physical pain that will bring gain in his story, we pray even more that He will see and experience the spiritual gain by walking this journey God has for him.  A journey marked by God’s faithfulness and continued provision and healing.

Thank you for continuing to pray for us and encourage us in this journey.  We will return to Alabama near the end of this month for a follow-up with his doctor.   Until then, we press through the pain with the hope of the gain!

roller-coasterNeedless to say, this journey has been full of emotion.  Many times we have felt like we are on a roller coaster – at times in fear, hanging on with white knuckles and other times exuberant with joy.  There have been many tears shed and many smiles shared.  We definitely have experienced what Jesus meant in John 10:10 when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  I’ve always described this verse as life being a roller coaster and then life with Jesus the roller coaster is simply more exciting – lower lows, but also higher highs.  

Being wired and designed in God’s image means that we share attributes that God perfectly possesses.  Of course, ours have been marred by the fall, but we are given glimpses into the emotions of God throughout Scripture and especially through glimpses of Jesus life in the New Testament.  We are created beings and we are created to feel.  Ecclesiastes 3:4 reminds us that there are seasons or times for our emotions… “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

kulaquaI had the opportunity to step away (thanks to Brooke and my parents holding down the fort) and preach to 500 middle schoolers this past week at our middle school camp.  I shared the Epic Story of God – the narrative that He is writing and how He invites us into His Story.  Well, one morning I shared on the topic: every scar tells a story.  That in God’s amazing Story, He uses hurt and pain in our lives to accomplish His purposes in our lives and to have a story that reflects His Story.

Despite being a bit hesitant, I did share about our journey and more specifically about Cole’s story.  I shared about our trust in God’s goodness despite our emotions that tried to convince us otherwise.  I shared about the pain of feeling helpless as a parent in a situation like this.  And I shared how we believe that God is weaving Cole’s story into the larger Story He is telling and how we pray his story points other people to Jesus’ Story.  And by God’s grace I managed to keep it mostly together in the process of sharing.  And then lost it when I sat down.

That was Wednesday and Thursday was yet another emotional day.  It was x-ray day as I wrote about here.  There were high hopes and great joy as we waited for what we hoped would be good news.  And praise God it is good news.  We are overwhelmed with excitement and happiness to know the cast is coming off and we will begin our next phase in this journey.

I’m certain we will reflect back on this time and experience even more emotion.  Our hearts have been opened up to feel at new depths and while at times difficult, we are grateful.  It is most certainly has been a roller coaster… but we wouldn’t have it any other way.