Pain is a common experience in this world. We all share it and cannot avoid it until heaven.
The world is broken by sin so we hurt each other with our words and our actions.
The world is broken by sin so we experience the pain of illness and disease.
The world is broken by sin so we do dumb stuff that self inflicts pain.
I probably experience the dumb stuff principle more than any other. This last week is a fine example. We burn wood for heat here in Northern Michigan. The wood pile is a mistress that continually begs for your attention. No wood. No heat.
This week, I was getting ahead for next winter. I had high hopes. Then I had pain. Remember the dumb principle?
I was loading split wood into the wheelbarrow and the piece in my left hand had a big chunk of bark hanging off it. I was annoyed by it, so I took the piece of firewood in my right hand and swung it with all my might to knock off the hanging bark. Instead, I smashed my thumb and watched it instantly turn purple…well that was after I whimpered and cried like a little girl.
Dumb is followed by pain. Remember that. It applies to almost every situation.
Here is the good news: God has purpose for your pain.
The pain in my thumb was excruciating. It pounded like a drum in the high school band. 800 milligrams of Motrin did little to alleviate the pain. The next day as I worked, I had to be excessively careful about protecting it. My thumb was so sensitive that any contact of any kind brought sharp, penetrating pain. And then, I thought of Jacob.
A few weeks ago, I was reading the biblical account of the life of Jacob. My favorite portion is when Jacob wrestles with God. You can read it here. The lessons of that encounter run very, very deep. The part that came to me that day was when God touched Jacobs hip socket and wrenched it.
Why did he do that? Why did God inflict this pain upon Jacob and leave him with a limp?
Jacob was well known for his scheming. He was always looking for an angle to gain an advantage in any situation. He largely lived his life independently from God. He did what we often do. He tried to make life work on his own.
That never works over the long term.
In Genesis 32, Jacob is getting ready to face his brother,Esau, for the first time since stealing the blessing of his father. The last Jacob knew, Esau was consoling himself with the thought of killing him (Genesis 27:42). Jacob had fled to Paddan Aram and hadn’t seen his brother for many years. He was scared and then God showed up and taught him a lesson.
The lesson was simple: You desperately need Me.
Jacob wrestled with God until morning. He was relentless. He refused to let him go until he blessed him. Why? Because Jacob, feeling desperate, finally realized how deeply he needed God. He couldn’t do it alone any longer.
God crippled Jacob’s hip so that every time he felt that pain…every time he had to hobble along the road…every time he was physically limited, he would remember.
I can’t do this alone. I need God.
Do you know that? Do you really know that? Do you live like that?
My smashed thumb isn’t much in the grand scheme of things. It will heal. But as it throbbed in pain for days, I was continually reminded of Jacob and the simple truth:
I need to live in dependance on God.
You have probably experienced pain that is far more significant than a smashed thumb. If not…bad news… you will. Maybe you are living with it now. It could be physical. It could be emotional Whatever it is or whenever it comes, let that throb of the thumb, pain in the hip or ache in the heart take you to God. It’s simple, I know. But, we need to turn to God over and over in our lives. One of the purposes of pain is to take us there so that we will say “God, I need you.”
If life is hard, check here for some more help. Also, feel free to contact me. I’d love to talk.
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