Rain, pain, and gratitude – a major “aha!” moment

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians. 5:16-18)

God is changing me.

Again.

Still.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)

Monday was a rainy day. For me, rain = pain. It’s been that way for years and years because of the bursitis in my knees and shoulders (worse in my right knee and right shoulder). I’m one of those human barometers who can tell you when it’s going to rain (or snow) even if there isn’t any in the forecast. Although I (really, really!) wanted to call into work because the pain was pretty intense when I woke up, I pulled on my big girl panties and went anyway, determined to smile my way through the day without complaining.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (1 Chronicles 16:34)

I prayed on my way to work as I normally do and, reacting to something God stirred up in my heart, made the decision to be thankful for the pain. No, I’m not crazy (not yet anyway) – I decided to be thankful because experiencing pain means I’m alive and as far as I’m concerned that’s something to be thankful for. (Right?) Really – how awesome is that? I get to be here for another day loving on people and doing what God wants me to do. What an honor! I also decided to use the pain as a reminder to pray for people; every time I feel a throb of pain I lift up whoever God calls to mind right then.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)

And then I got a surprise. It would appear as though making the choice to smile, be thankful, and focus my prayers on others, even though I was really hurting, did…something (?)…in the spiritual realm which in turn affected my body.

I think.

Maybe.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)

I’m still pretty bowled over by it, but the pain quickly began to recede after making those choices – and following through. Although still a bit stiff and sore for a minute or two as usual when I got up from my chair after sitting for a long time – I’m always fine after I move around for a minute – my knees and shoulders were almost totally pain-free by mid-late morning even though it was rainy all day and into the evening. It’s important to note here that the bursitis flare-ups don’t usually dissipate until the rain is done – and even then it’s not at all unusual for there to be residual soreness for day or two. While I won’t presume upon God by declaring myself completely physically healed without clear confirmation from Him (there are still occasional twinges), I can’t help but wonder if the God-inspired change in my attitude from “oh poor me” while staying in bed and babying myself to “thank you, God, for this pain because it means I’m alive” and “please use this pain to remind me to pray for others” while going to work with a smile, didn’t somehow break some hold the enemy of our souls had on my body (?). I’m no theologian so I can’t say with any degree of certainty that’s why it happened; it’s just an educated guess.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)

The more I think about it though, the more sense it makes to me. Scripture clearly states that a heart at peace gives life to the body and that envy rots the bones – and I don’t believe this is even remotely metaphorical. Matthew Henry agrees: “An upright, contented, and benevolent mind, tends to health.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary) I didn’t waste even a second of my day wistfully watching anyone else walk down the hall wishing I could move with such little effort. In fact, for the first time ever, I was at peace and truly content right where I was at in the midst of some pretty nasty pain. (Which, honestly, is a small miracle in and of itself – I’m not one who normally does well with that level of pain – which is why I usually just stay home and shut out the world if I have to deal with it.)

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21)

While I don’t believe words themselves have magic powers, I do believe that the things we say affect us – they come out of our mouths, go into our ears, and we internalize them. Our words affect our thought life, which affect our emotions, which affect our belief systems, which affect our actions, which ultimately results in negative consequences in our lives. So if we routinely say negative things about ourselves or someone else, we’re “speaking death” and killing a part of our/their spirit. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that rather than “oh-my-gawding” and complaining about my pain (I don’t usually complain out loud all that much, but I think it’s safe to say I had a grumbling spirit about it as far as God was concerned), I chose instead to be positive, speaking life.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

Whatever the “why” though, God is very clearly behind this and I am more grateful than I can put into words.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7)

Addendum: Today, Wednesday, we have more rain moving in, so ordinarily the bursae in my knees and shoulders would be swollen and painful.

They’re not.

Thank you, Jesus!

Well, my Father knows I love surprises…

“Sometimes what you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all.” –Unknown

Something pretty awesome happened this morning.

I need to back up a few years first though. My friend Eileen’s mother-in-law, Anne, has a friend who gave her a prophetic word years and years ago, but it wasn’t for Anne and she didn’t know who it was for. The Holy Spirit impressed the message on her friend, she wrote it out, gave it to Anne, and Anne put it in a pile of papers somewhere and promptly forgot about it.

Then one day many years later, in spring 2014, I was at Anne’s house. We spent some time visiting and some time in prayer together. Afterward she got up and headed for the kitchen, but she suddenly turned and walked over to her dining room table and pulled a piece of paper off the top of a pile of books and papers and said, as she handed the paper to me, “oh! I almost forgot… This is for you. I was going through some of my papers a few weeks ago and I found this – hadn’t even thought about it for years – and God said ‘this is for Lauren.’”

When I read it I was so overwhelmed I cried. I couldn’t help it. That God loves me (ME!) enough to give me that message… There are simply no words.

As much as I loved what I read and hoped it was for then, I knew deep down inside that it was a reassurance for the future. I really feel like God made sure I got it when I did though so I’d know He hadn’t forgotten about me (I had been feeling pretty discouraged) and that no matter what things look like He is at work in and for me. I had it in my purse and let a couple of close friends read it, then, to my dismay, it vanished so I thought I had accidentally thrown it out when I cleaned out my purse. I was devastated because, due to decades of sleep problems, my memory isn’t what it once was. I couldn’t remember it word-for-word. I could remember the general gist, but that was it. I told God that if He wanted me to get the message again at some point that I knew He could make sure it found its way back to me somehow when the time was right. I’ve thought about it from time to time since then, and every time my heart ached over how irresponsible I had been with such a precious gift.

Then this morning, three years later, I went to my bookshelf to find a bible study to do. I wanted to bring it to work in case I was able to go to the library on my lunch break (I wasn’t). But this one book I haven’t read yet caught my eye, tugged at my heart, and I just had to grab it: Seeking the Face of God by Gary Thomas. When I opened it to glance inside a folded piece of paper fell out into my hands. It was the prophetic word I lost three years ago! (How the heck it ended up in that book I have absolutely no idea…)

I was on my way out the door to work so I didn’t have a lot of time, but, thrilled because it’s exactly what I needed right now, I had to stop and thank Him from the bottom of my heart. My cup overflows.

And I’m definitely reading that book!