Thankfulness in Suffering

Disclaimer: I’m writing this on 0 hours of sleep in the past 24 hours and just popped a Zquil, a Zyrtec and a Prednisone to help me finally do so.

I hate suffering. I know I haven’t suffered a lot compared to many people (but I’ll get back to that). What I do know is that I have suffered enough to know that I hate it. I’ve suffered things like deep corneal abrasion, raw 2nd degree burns across my back which was literally the closest thing to excruciating (of the cross) as I’ve yet to experience, and now currently: hand, foot, and mouth disease. The name sounds more weird than bad or painful but how does itchy and painful blisters on your face, hands, in your ears and in your nose sound? Yeah, it sucks. So much that I literally couldn’t sleep last night. At. All.

I’ve only ever not slept one night once in my life and, again, I know that for some people difficulty sleeping is a misery they suffer with regularly and for others (late teens/mid-twenty-year-olds) it’s a lifestyle. For me- I can usually fall asleep on demand anywhere at any time. These sores would not let me sleep last night. I stayed up and updated my website, I tried falling asleep, I watched Better Call Saul, I tried falling asleep, I tried reading the Bible, no sleep, I tried memorizing Colossians 1:13 and rehearsing myself to sleep, still no sleep, I watched the Bible miniseries, I almost fell asleep, I finished the entire first season of Better Call Saul, I knew I wasn’t going to sleep.

The sun was already up and the walk-in clinic would open soon to properly diagnose whatever flesh eating auto-immune disease I thought I had. That’s when the doc told me about hand foot and mouth: that I have it bad, and that it was probably going to get worse. But wait…I was certain 11 hours ago that Jesus was able to get rid of this thing instantly and definitely overnight. I even prayed over a glass of water confident that this sanctified H2O would be the glass that would flush my system of this trash. I didn’t expect that I would have to suffer longer, but alas. For me this will take a few more uncomfortable days but it will go away. Back to those I mentioned who know what real torment is all about. I cry just thinking about the chronic illnesses and long term pain some of my loved ones deal with daily; things that won’t just clear up and go away with time.

Enough babbling, I actually did learn something about what the God I was praying to is capable of. Going back to my efforts to fall asleep last night God turned me to Colossians 1. At first I was trying to memorize verse 10 basically with a commanding tone: “Be more deserving of God’s love! Do more good works! Do a better job at knowing God!”

“so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” – Colossians 1:10

My head wasn’t receiving the fact that Paul’s prayer for what the Colossians’ character would be only comes as a result of who they already are in verse 13. With this verse stuck in my head through my fatigue and pain and bitterness it dawned on me not what I could expect God to be able to do for me but to give thanks to God for making me part of his inheritance (paraphrase Col. 1:12). Verse 13 tells what God is capable of: “he has delivered us from the domain of darkness (that’s crazy capable) and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son through whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

“giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:12-14

It doesn’t say, “through whom we have instant healing all the time.” My heart learned right then that even though my body feels like garbage at the moment my soul is more well than I could ever ask for or deserve and with that in mind why would an annoying rash be my preoccupation? I still know he could heal me instantly and if he is able to give us eternal life why would he not also grant us little things too. And yet for me today I relished the realization if he is able to give me eternal life how can I bother to ask for anything more?

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” – Romans 8:32

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