Pain~ Sickness~ Life

IMG_0291Some days the battle to rise from my mattress is bone breaking. The pain of life, and chronic illness is leach sucking. At times it would be all the more easier to turn my back to the morning light and to shut out the light. Nonetheless, I don’t! Every morning I am faced with the defining choice, the distinction. Will I rise and fight for my life? Battle to make a difference, or allow the darkness of depression and illness to overwhelm my very soul?

Every dawn, I rise in God’s strength to face another day of unknowns, falls, weakness, and frustration. Every day, He proves faithful to my soul. Every moment I have a choice. Will I make the enemy pay for the struggle He has brought, or shall I turn within and focus on my struggles?

Friends, life is to short to waste it only on yourself. Yes, it is healthy, and even necessary for you to care for your needs; emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. Yet, do not allow yourself to become consumed by your own struggles. Use your weakness instead as a catalysis into understanding and relating to others.

The Enemy of our souls is attempting to bring pain and darkness into this world. However, that is not his only agenda. His goal is to bring death. He will at all costs attempt to kill those of this earth, God’s beloved. We, as Christians, are being used to fight against this enemy and his horrid plans.

How can one fight the good fight, you may ask. We fight the good fight when we stand in Christ’s strength even when we are weak. When we spend time with the outcast at school, even though it goes against cultural norms, we fight the good fight. When we change the channel, to honor Him and fight the good fight. It is in the little moments of each day.

So, whether your battlefield is within your hospital bed, your cubical office, or by the kitchen sink, fight the good fight.

 

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Who am I? The Questions of a College Student, Part One

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Ah… The questions so often feel my mind: Who am I? What does being a Christian college student mean in this day and age? What is the purpose to life?

Though not complete, here is a short list of who we are in Christ. As Christians, we have taken upon ourselves the identity of Christ. His perfection, becomes our own.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17

Newness… It is the cry of a child as they breath in their first breath of air. It is the unfolding of a butterflies wings for the first time. It is the changing of night to day. The old being thrown aside as a newness is embraced.

Dear brother or sister, in Christ you are a new creation. The past is in the past. It is not you anymore. You are freed from it. Those sins that you are ashamed of, they too are wiped away, a tale from the past.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

You are royal.

You are chosen.

You are called.

You are holy.

You are in His light.

 

The Sacrifice of Surrender

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“No God… No.” I cried out in my bedroom as I rocked my 15 year old self. Tears flowed from my eyes as I sought the Lord on my knees that night. Within I battled the fear that overwhelmed me. I feared trusting God. I wanted to, yet at the same time I longed to cling to my ways.

We have all, as Christians, have those moments where we must choose surrender. Those moments where we battle letting the Lord rule and control the outcome or our own willful selves.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1

Before Christ, the Israelite nation had been commanded to sacrifice the first born of their livestock to the Lord. It was a sacrifice, and since it was the first born, they had no promise of another animal. They had no knowledge if  the other sheep would give birth to healthy lambs, or even if their lambs would survive the birth on a cold night.

That is the essence of sacrifice: giving a circumstance or thing to God, even with no promise of return. We are commanded in Romans to sacrifice ourselves unto God as a living act of worship.

How can you practically sacrifice unto the Lord as an act of worship?

 

 

 

 

The Fear of Hypocrisy


It was a normal Monday afternoon as I logged my hours into the database of the pregnancy center where I work. Out of nowhere
came a sting of guilt as I remembered the quick temper that I had displayed to my brother as I rushed out the door. Pondering my actions, the enemy began to whisper lies to my soul, “Who are you to work with this Pregnancy Center? If they only knew what you are really like, they would never want to have your service. You are just a hypocritical Christian. You need to resign and step down from all the ministry you are part of.”

Shame shadowed my face as I finished up my tasks and headed to my car. “Maybe I should just step down from ministry until I get my life together?” I pondered, as the engine began.

I wish that I could tell you that I didn’t listen to those lies for long. I wish that I hadn’t lived believing them for so long. Yet, honestly, I stayed in that place of shame for many months, and still to this day struggle with the guilt of not being completely sanctified.

The greatest fear I have isn’t the fear of being murdered in my sleep, of the darkness, or even of heights. My most monsterest of fears is the fear of being a hypocrite. I fear preaching one thing and living another. I fear failing God and not living in a way that honors Him. I fear causing the same amount of pain that I have experienced
from others. I fear being labeled a hypocrite.

I know that I am not the only one who has struggled with this lie. The lie that the enemy so often speaks, attempting to disqualify us from the work that Christ is doing.
There is a clear difference between a hypocritical Christian and a true follower of Christ.

A hypocritical Christian claims to be without sin, yet knows that sin is within their lives. John warned the church of this very thing, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)
A true follower of Christ is a work in progress. He or she doesn’t claim to be perfect but simply on the upward climb toward sanctification.

I am not a finished project.

I am not sinless and it seems that the closer I draw to the light, the more dirt and grime shows within.

HE is still working on my soul.

I continue to strive toward perfection, Yet all the time allowing Him to sanctify me.

The Danger of Walls

 

“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” Psalm 18:29
I have a confession to make. I am a stone mason. Whenever someone or a circumstance causes bone-crushing pain, I quickly begin my occupation. I snatch up my chisel and gavel and begin to build up my fortress. Fashioning the four walls with the stones of bitterness, fear of rejection, and the marble of falseness.

Once complete, my masterpiece towered 15 feet high. I huddle in the darkest corner finally believing myself to be safe at last from any enemy fire. Yet, the longer I stay within those walls, their beauty turns into darkness. The protection that the walls falsely promised, soon turn into my very prison. I assumed that none could enter those walls that I had built. Yet many characters entered and seeped into the room that I had fashioned; a man named condemnation stepped in, along with depression and loneliness. These three companions became my daily torturers, gagging me and not allowing me to answer the calls of my friends standing outside my walls knocking.

I attempted to break free from my bounds. I tried to run, but, in my insanity, I had failed to build a door of escape. There was no way out of my ‘wall of protection’. In defeat I crumpled to the ground.

Though I thought I only had three companions, there was yet another. He was the silent type. Only speaking when needed and with a very gentle tone. In my yells for freedom, he replied.

“My child, your only escape is through me. The world outside these walls you have built will bring pain. The world out there is one of harshness, but also of joy. It is one of disappointment, and pain. Yet I promise you this, I will never leave you or forsake you. There will be moments where you long to build a fortress of protection again. Nonetheless, I ask that you remain purposeful in being open with others. Do you care to scale the wall?” He asked with love in His voice.

Nervously I replied with a nod, and we, together began our climb upwards. It took much time, yet He was patient the whole while. Once reaching the other side, His words  were proven true time and time again.

There were many moments where I began to carve my stone walls again. Yet each moment He gently took my gavel from my hand and with His carpenter hands began to teach me to build houses of safety. These houses were not for my own protection, but as a place of healing for others.

 


In Darkness and Pain

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Note from the author~ I am currently receiving medical treatment, counseling from my parents and professional in regards to my struggles. 

Chronic pain… it’s more than simply having daily pain. It’s more than hurting every moment of every day. It robs you at every level: mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. Maybe you are reading this and know the pain of a chronic illness, yet for those who don’t know, here is a slight exercise for you to see what we live with everyday. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine sitting on hot coals. These burning embers won’t leave your skin, even if you twitch your leg. Now hold your breath. Even if you want to take a breath, keep it in. After doing this for one minute, you are done.

That was hard wasn’t it? You probably have a headache now. That is a small picture of what chronic pain feels like. Simple tasks such as breathing hurts. The thought of getting out of bed is hard. It is terrifying to think of going out in public, not knowing when the next flare-up will happen.

Not only this, but add the greatest challenge of attempting to live a normal life and the expectations that others have for you to live just as everyone else.

Friends, I struggle with suicidal thoughts. Not because I am being selfish. Not because I want to hurt others in my life. Not because of a hard past. Not because of guilt. But because sometimes, that is the only answer my mind can think of when I am in toxic pain. Sometimes the pain of my illness is so intense that death seems to be the only possible answer or solution.

Some of you may ask, “If suicide feels like such a reasonable answer, why are you still around?”

I choose to live because I know that God is bigger than my pain. I choose to live because life is worth living, even with the pain. I choose to live because I love my family and refuse to have them suffer even more than I do by my death.

I choose to live because Christ has given me life and that more abundantly. He has promised that He will work things for my good. So when the days are rough and I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I look to Him and take one step forward.

In the Valley…

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“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. “In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.”
Hosea 2:14-16

The scorching dessert heat is never pleasant, especially on my fair skin. To be completely honest, I don’t enjoy blistering days. I would much prefer a cool autumn evening, than the noon day soon.

God spoke this prophecy to Hosea, over 3,000 years ago. It was a promise of leading His people into a dry season.

Yes, you read that correctly, a dry place and season. God leads us to dry places on purpose. Though we despise the blazing heat of purification there is reason beneath the pain.

God lovingly cares for each of His children, yet He also knows that one won’t be strong unless they are brought through the heat. Just as a sycamore tree’s roots won’t deepen unless it sits in heat and dryness,  we too will not deepen in our knowledge of Him unless we are tested.

It is in the dryness of seasons, where we learn to dig deeply into our Savior. It is in the blazing heat, where we begin to learn that God is more then just our Master.

To the woman who weeps alone, because no one understands.

To the man who drinks himself sick, because that is all there is in his life.

To the girl who thinks of killing herself as the one and only solution.

Keep fighting… God is working even THIS for your good.