- Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV)
I had a bad night last night. As I exhibit the natural signs of aging, arthritis and peripheral neuropathy have become an unavoidable part of my life. Most of the time it is handled effectively with medication and physical therapy, but on occasions like last night it was worse than normal and kept me from sleeping. When this first began to impact me, I looked at it from the perspective of feeling sorry for myself and then, realizing that would only lead to bitterness and a lot of wasted time if I let it, I decided to take it to God and turn it over to him. After that, and looking around the world before me, I came to realize that I am so fortunate compared to so many others, while also realizing there was a godly reason for my pain. After all, if the only sinless man ever to live, a man who was also a major component of God Himself, could die on the cross so horribly without ever committing a sin, how could I, a sinful mortal, expect not to have pain? The answer is that I couldn't and shouldn't, so when I have my little bouts like last night that keep me from sleeping, it's something I must accept, deal with, and labor on. I am fortunate to have medications and a good doctor to help me with it, but on nights like last night they just don't work, so I turn my pain over to God and ask Him to keep me doing my part to live on in His image as best I can. And it truly does lessen the pain when I do that.
As Paul wrote, the tribulation that we call pain produces perseverance, which produces character, which produces hope. And hope as a Christian means that God has given us the greatest gift that could ever be given a human. At the very moment that His only Son, Jesus Christ, exhaled his final breath as Man and died, all, past, present and future generations of the human race were given forgiveness for our sins. And what that means is the only other thing we must do to gain that forgiveness is to accept His offer by turning our lives over to Him, believing in Him by faith and living as He wants us to do. That's pretty astounding, don't you think?
So, when next we must deal with pain or suffering, think about what it represents in our relationship with God and treat it accordingly. And just think, when we persevere and develop character and find the hope that comes from Christ, when all is said and done on this earth we will inherit a new life with Him in heaven above, a life that will be new with a fresh and vibrant body and one which will have no pain. Hallelujah!