1 Peter 1:13
"Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Chronic pain has been God's learning tool of choice for me, lately. I don't claim it's my favorite tool, but I am learning (again) to be thankful for it as He uses it to teach me. I have struggled lately with the concept of God's protection - not only in my situation, but in regard to those suffering persecution to the point of torture, slavery, and death. (I like to dwell on the light subjects...)
God may choose to protect his saints' physical safety, but God promises to protect our souls. While it's comforting to know He'll protect my soul, I sometimes find it a difficult pill to swallow that He won't always protect my body. It is during these times that I must remember His goodness and His purpose: to make us more like Christ, and to bring Him glory. There are moments when I'm all too happy to face affliction for His glory and my benefit... but what about those times when I just don't want to hurt anymore?
I love something my husband said, paraphrased: "Our hope in Christ isn't a perspective that diminishes our present affliction, but that recognizes how much greater is the prize of eternity with Christ. Our present affliction pales in comparison."
It's like the parable Christ tells in Matthew 13:44: "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."
I want to be so excited about the treasure God has given me that my present afflictions pale in comparison. My focus has fallen from that treasure, and consequently, so has my joy. Thank God for His grace, to continue His work in me and remind me of who He is and what He has done.
What has He done?
I highly suggest reading 1 Peter 1 and dwelling on each concept he states. There's a lot there! God chose us - not because of who we are, but who He is. His grace to us is rife throughout. He set us apart, sacrificed His Son to take our penalty, raised Him again to conquer death for us, and gave us an eternal inheritance we had no claim upon. I might add He also gave His Holy Spirit to enable us to conquer our spiritual battles on earth.
God is good! I am not forgotten, but rather He is walking these trenches with me.
I stumble over this "need" to do something, to prove my worth to myself and to Him. But it isn't about what I can do, it is about what He has done, and the work He is doing in me now. The victory is His, not mine, and when I try to snatch that away, everything falls apart. Of course the path grows difficult when my focus draws inward: I have no power.
If you're like me, you may want to dwell on that for a minute, because it takes a bit to sink into my brain. Then when it does, I'm disgruntled, because I mistake my powerlessness for worthlessness, which isn't true. God didn't choose me because of what I could do for Him. Realistically, there is nothing I can do that the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient Creator of the Universe can't.
Isn't it amazing, then, that while He doesn't need me, He still chooses to use me? How privileged are we?
"[F]ix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" and remember the joy of His gift! Purposefully meditate on it and let it permeate your thoughts and actions. Then watch your affliction begin to pale in comparison!