Serving Through Pain

Disclaimer: I am writing with very little sleep. Sorry if it is choppy!

For a week now, I have sat at the bedside of my sister’s bed while she is engulfed in the worst pain of her life. There have been days where I have been up for 30 plus hours straight, holding her hand, repositioning her, moving her from the bed, to the chair, to the bathroom. Nights and days filled with tears. I do not say this to boast about what I have done or am currently doing. I just need you to have some context of what I am walking through.

I want to address a resounding question that has been louder this hospital stay than ever before:  “How do you still believe and serve God when there is so much pain and sorrow?” We have too. We have to stand on His promises, His word, and His comfort. His Word says:

Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Psalm 30:5: “ Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Psalm 119:28: “I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word.”

His Word is the promise we stand on. If we didn’t have His Word there would be no working together for good, no joy in the morning, no hope.

Serving God and worshiping God when you are hitting your highest pain threshold, whether the pain is physical or emotional, is the ultimate death to your flesh. It is the moment of total surrender and complete trust. At that moment, there is nowhere else to look but to God. Doctors and nurses try their best and God will use them to diagnose a problem or administer medicine but God is the only one who can administer peace.

I believe in a God of miracles, I believe that He could miraculously change Rachel’s diagnosis, regrow a colon, and have her running and dancing in a moment. I know what God has done, what God is doing and what God says He will do. I also know that God isn’t a genie in a bottle and He loves to work through people. People who are vessels of His hope, His grace, His patience, His healing. God uses doctors, nurses, CNA’s, Rad Techs, friends and family members. Anyone and everyone who walks into the threshold of this door.

Take a second and grasp this fact: God wants to use US to do His will in someone else’s life. If we can just learn to slow down our plans, take a step back and ask God: “What is Your will today for me?” So often we get caught up in what we wanted to do that we forget that God has also planned out our day for us too. A lot of the times God isn’t waiting for some big event to get you to serve someone. He isn’t up in heaven scheduling everything He needs to get done during a designated serve event. Those are great and He uses those too, but He wants us to serve Him and His people every single day.

What if we could get a whole community to grasp this fact? What would it look like if everyone was serving each other instead of ourselves? What would it look like if we stopped turning the focus towards us and turning our focus towards them? The hurting and the lost. The more that this happens the more Heaven actually starts to touch Earth.

So what can you lay down to serve God? Who can you reach out to today to show God’s love to? He wants to use you today.

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To the Ones Who Were Always There:

(The Sowers)

First. Thank you. We did not see the moments where you chose love over convenience or spending time with us over spending time alone. We did not see the burdens that were placed upon you that you never asked for. We did not see the sacrifices you made in your finances. We did not see your exhaustion or the things you gave up for yourself. But we did see you. Always there. Always within reach. Always a phone call away. Constant.

In a life that was placed on us by powers that were out of our control; we needed consistency.  You saw the void and stepped. We are sure you felt out of place, we are sure there were days where you didn’t feel like it was your place to stay, but you did anyway. The school nights filled with study sessions, summer days filled with learning multiplication facts and state capitols, followed by the nights of reading books out loud alternating turns cringing through our mispronunciations. The key to your consistency was: Patience.

Even in the ordinary days of routines, you were sowing into things that would eventually bring a harvest. This harvest is bigger than you ever imagined. It will produce a future for you that is beyond your wildest dream. Through the years of your selflessness, you have pushed your own dreams and desires down to ensure we achieve ours. It speaks to who you truly are, not the walls that you have built up around you or the identity you think people want you to portray. This is you. The diligence, the consistency, the patience.

Seasons change. The study sessions cease, scheduling classes are now replaced with scheduling graduation, and the dependency that was so desperately needed at one time are no longer there. You prognosticate the arrival of your next season. A season that you have prepared us for our entire lives but a season you might not be comfortable with. Your identity is shifting, your purpose is changing, you’re transitioning. And it’s going to be okay. Take heart and know that God guided you through every phone call, every late night, every summer vacation, and every moment that you created for us. God is still guiding you.

A moment of mourning arrives as you see that your job is done here. We are courageous, successful, bold and strong. We do not fear change or look at is with a negative connotation because we know you’ll be there crusading for us. Remember that this is your season of harvest and the moment of mourning should not turn into a season. Because this is your harvest season. So allow this last mourning shower down your face to be the final act of labor before the flowers bloom at the arrival of dawn. You get to rest and watch the things that you have ever so audaciously sowed into bloom and yield abounding fruit.

With love,

-Your perach

(Hebrew Meaning: Flower, bud, blossom)

To the Single Moms:

(Part I: The planters)

We saw you on the day you took on your new title. We saw the stress, the pain, the fear and the tears that your new title demanded. We watched as you learned how to cope with this new life thrust upon you. We, your children, have seen you grow through every meandering bend of life.

The first couple of years were rough; trying to figure out this new path of your life with your children around you, but we were watching you through it all. And I am here to say: “you did your best”. You empowered us to keep pushing even when it hurts, to always be better than who you are now, and that God is always with you. Maybe you did not always do it “right” but we all learned from it. You showed us how important it is to be planted in a church family and you gave us that firm foundation during the most pivotal years of our lives. You did not give us the option to say “no” to church or to family. Because that was all we had; our identity was planted in Him, not anything that a man or woman could do to us.

As seasons came and went; we still grew and time kept going. We knew you had a lot to do, but you did take the time to be with us. It was in the nights where we stayed up late to make donuts and watch movies, it was in the days where you told us the homework could wait, it was in the moments where you choose joy over stress. Those are the things that etched the memories we have forever. Memories no one can ever take and memories that will trump the traumatic ones that we, too, have walked through. Did you always get it right? Were you perfect? Nope… but that is ok… You kept striving for excellence and we grew where we were planted.

So look at us now… Look at where we are at… the label placed on us from society (“Children of Divorce”) had no hold on us and it did not become our identity. We did not become another statistic. And it is because of you, we are now flourishing where we have been planted. We now have the structural integrity to withhold so many things. We learned from the victories you have had, from the decisions that you have made, the mistakes we have seen, and those are lessons we will not have to walk through because you forged the way before us and planted us there.

We are now going in different directions but you don’t have to worry because you taught us, you molded us, you fought for us. We are the constant proof of your testimony and the evidence that you made it through. We are better people because of it. Are we perfect? Absolutely not… Do we have a voice to encourage the next generation walking through the same things we did 5..10..15 years ago? Absolutely, and because of your diligence and bravery during the darkest season of your life; we have the boldness and grace to speak, bring the light, and force darkness out of situations. Because of where you planted us: we are light, we are strong and we are love and loved.

So today we celebrate you most of all. We celebrate the fact that you made it through, you fought the hardest battle of your life and still mustered up the courage to stand your ground and give us a support system that can never be uprooted. Now that we are grown, rest in the fact that all the lessons you have taught us from our childhood grew in fertile soil. You now get to rest and watch the things that you have ever so audaciously planted start to bloom and yield abounding fruit.

With love,

Your Zera

(Hebrew meaning: Seedling)

Up next: To the Ones who were Always There:

Introduction: Patiently Growing

Ordinary weeks, ordinary days, ordinary moments fill the lives of every human being. The drive to work, the familiar conversations, the simple relationships: the ordinary. Time passes and you start to realize that all along, you have been growing. God specializes in this exact phenomenon. In making our ordinary lives proof of His Extraordinary existence. He shifts and bends us to our very core of who we are so that we become a living testimony of his wonder.

At 25, I never thought I would ever be getting the call that my father had passed. The relationship I had with him was far past broken and abusive. Which, in time, I will use this as an outlet to share how I have learned to forgive and grow from his hurt. Through those 25 years, he spoke things to me, about me, and over me. My father’s words and actions stole my confidence, kept be frozen in the ordinary and numbed me from all words. Even encouraging ones. I lived the life that I had created amidst the ordinary but I knew there were bondages that were keeping me from the “more” in my life. But amongst the ordinary, God was preparing me for His extraordinary call on my life that I believe I am just now starting to walk out.

I often find myself taking for granted the goodness of God. The truth is that God is never going to allow you to stay stagnant for too long before He launches you into your next task. He knows where you need to go, who you need to be with, and what you need to be and He is going to make it happen. You might not realize that even during the mundane tasks of every day that you are growing.

We all have seasons where we are buried. No one can see who you are and what God is doing in you. Just like a seed being planted; there is so much happening under the soil that we cannot see just by looking at the dirt. Our flesh thrives on the perspective of “being seen” but God doesn’t work that way. He likes the dirt, the manure, the dampness of the soil. That is where He creates His miracles: in the mess when you do not need the light of the day to thrive. In fact, too much light would be detrimental to where you are in the process. It would suck the life right out of you. You have to have this season in the cold, damp place to establish who you actually are and create the foundation that you will need for your next season.

The danger comes when we start comparing our buried seasons to others. We have all heard the sermons on how comparison is the thief of all joy.  However, we have all done this, we have all asked God: “why?” or “why is this taking so long?”. The truth is that we all have different things to learn, we all learn at different speeds, we are all created to do different things. If God only created the Apple tree think of all the other fruits we would miss out on… God’s true heart is diversity and we all have things to learn and give to each other.

The limitation your tree can grow is dependant on the health and durability of your roots. So don’t try to rush this season, don’t wish it away or wish it never happen. Yes, it is hard because it goes against everything in this world. God is still there in the darkness and there is a reason for this season. You are still growing ever so gradually. This is the season of Patiently Growing.