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Sermon – 1/26/03 –
Chronic Pain -
Psalm 10:1


Chronic Pain

"Why, O Lord, do You stand far off? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?"
(Psalm 10:1)

For years, my mother has suffered from severe neck pain, with headaches that emanate from the neck pain.  I have gained some insight into her suffering, during the past year.  I have had a year of the most irksome neck pain that just won't go away.  It hurts constantly, and I now understand something about her pain.

Here's some of what I note in relation to pain that simply will not end:

·        It's tiring - your energy diminishes.

·        It reduces your ability to concentrate.

·        Memory lessens.

·        There is an increased need for sleep, coupled with a perplexing inability to sleep through the night.

·        Depression becomes difficult to avoid.

Chronic pain can be non-physical, such as that which stems from the loss of a loved one.  The blow can be so great that it does not seem possible for life to continue.  Simply rising from bed takes enough energy to leave no strength for whatever you got up for in the first place.  You know what needs to be accomplished, but it seems impossible to do it, though a part of you wants it done.

You might wonder, "Where is God?" when such things occur, or, as the Psalmist cried out, "Why standest Thou afar off, O Lord?" (Psalm 10:1). 

In the book, "Streams in the Desert," we read, "'God is a very present help in trouble' (Psalm 46:1), but He permits trouble to pursue us, as though He was indifferent to its overwhelming pressure, that we may be brought to the end of ourselves, and led to discover the treasure of darkness, the immeasurable gains of tribulation.  We may be sure that He who permits the suffering is with us in it.  It may be that we shall see Him only when the trial is passing, but we must dare to believe that He never leaves the crucible… It is dark - the bandages blind us so that we cannot see the form of our High Priest; but He is there, deeply touched.  Let us not rely on feeling, but on faith in His unswerving fidelity; and though we see Him not, let us talk to Him.  Directly we begin to speak to Jesus, as being literally present, though His presence is veiled, there comes an answering voice which shows that He is as near when you journey through the dark tunnel as when under the open heaven."

Though we may not perceive Him at the moment, He is WITH us in our pain. 

I received an email a few days ago, in which the question was posed, "Would you take a million dollars for your eyes… Your arms?  Your legs?"  The point of the email was that we should REJOICE in what we have, instead of always grumbling about what we think has been denied us.  But sometimes, that is very hard to do.

We have been privileged to become acquainted with wonderful people from what you might call the "paralyzed" community.  Those who have usable arms and legs, tend to take such things for granted.  Those who don't have them, often become people of great courage, who discover God in their need.

In our church ( we have wonderful musicians, who have blessed us by sharing their music.  One of them is Renée Bondi, and you can hear her by visiting Friday Study Ministries.  While you're there, read her wonderful story in the section we call, "Especially For Women".  Use the link provided and visit her website.  You'll be glad you did.

Renée is a quadriplegic who was told by doctors after her accident, ten years before, "You'll never sing again" (her diaphragm muscles were paralyzed), and "You'll never have children."  The first time we met her, we loved her singing voice and can personally testify that God has somehow compensated for those paralyzed muscles in an amazing way.  In our second meeting, we were again blessed by her music, and then touched, as her (then) five-year old son ran up the aisle of the church to greet her.

Right now, she is suffering from what they call a "pressure sore", which is dangerous to a quadriplegic.  It's a sore that is very slow to heal and can actually be life-threatening.  Renée has now had surgery to promote healing from within, but she must remain face-down in a bed, for at least the next several months.  Perhaps for the next year, she will be denied even the relative freedom of a wheelchair.  Her neck and shoulders hurt and she is suffering from sadness.  (Please pray for Renée Bondi).

Try to imagine not being able to use your body in any way, except your head, and then see yourself strapped face down onto a gurney or hospital bed, for months.  We've seen it repeatedly, that God will allow "deficiencies" in life and then compensate wonderfully for them in other areas.  But, He may, for whatever reason, remove the compensation and leave the person to wonder, "Where is God for me?"

We see this in the words of the Psalmist, who cried, "Why, O Lord, do You stand far off? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?" and in the words of Jesus, who gasped from the cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (Psalm 22:1)

But the Father does NOT "hide" Himself from us.  Often our emotional and physical pain will blind us to His presence.  We saw in "Streams in the Desert", "He who permits the suffering is with us in it."  The Psalmist observed, "You HEAR, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted, You encourage them, and You listen to their cry" (Psalm 10:17).  Jesus, the Innocent One, bore our sins on the cross, an infinitely greater pain than even physical distress, horrible though it was.  And "when He (God the Son) cried to Him (God the Father), He HEARD" (Psalm 22:18).  The Father heard the Son, and He hears you and me.

Lord, our pain is great and our needs are many. Thank You that You are WITH me in my suffering, even when I do not perceive You.  I lift my eyes from my trouble and trust in You now.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

    Ron Beckham, Pastor
   Friday Study Ministries

Tel: (562) 688-5559
    PO Box 92131
    Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
    "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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