Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Place Of Healing

I've mentioned before that:
A). I am a stalker fan of Joni Eareckson Tada (and Beth Moore too for that matter.)
       B). I get overly excited about things I love.
C). When I am overly excited about something I love I can't help gushing and using lots of exclamation points!!!!!!!!
That being said, please bear with me in this post; it's sure to be a combination of all 3. :)
A few days ago I started reading Joni's book A Place of Healing, and my heart is so full I could cry just typing these words out.
I have never, ever read something that so perfectly, so succinctly, so powerfully articulates exactly where I am in my current situation with pain and suffering.  I've read books that are encouraging, books that help me look at obstacles in a new light, but I can't lie that many times I read them thinking, "well, that's great. But how do I apply that while living in PAIN every waking minute?"
And that's the difference here.
Joni knows. She gets it.
Did you know Joni lives with pain?  Many are aware that she's been a quadriplegic for 40 years, or that she had breast cancer--but on top of  all that--she lives with intense pain in her neck and lower back.  And even to her, someone who knows all about overcoming limitations and hardship, the pain has rocked her to the core.
She states:
"with this pain it's--it's as though God's reintroducing me to suffering. The agony I've experienced is beyond anything I could have imagined. Words truly fail me....I never used to be this way. Honestly. I never used to whine. I never used to wake up wondering if I'd be able to get out of bed. Most of all, I never remember being this anxious or fearful....I'm afraid I'm wearing out my friends. And my husband. Just as I used to tell God years ago when I was first injured, I find myself once more praying 'Lord, I can't live the rest of my life like this'."
My heart resonates with that paragraph so deeply. I have felt all of those things too, and I need a book that gets it on that level. I need to be assured I am not alone.
Perhaps the most extraordinary thing, though, is that while Joni admittedly hates the pain, daily grapples with it and is at times deeply overwhelmed
She is not overcome by it.
Chapter after chapter speaks only hope and victory and beauty from ashes.
Powerful words of healing beyond physical deliverance. 
That is how I want to live. I don't want to give in, to let pain destroy my joy or rob me of who I am becoming.  Most of all, I never want the pain--as desperate as it can make me feel some days--to shatter my relationship with God. I know that's exactly what Satan wants to happen, I can sense that spiritual battle all around me at times, but I want to live in victory no matter my circumstances.

So, having said all that (with minimal exclamation points too--impressive! :),
I want to share with you some of her thoughts. I'm sure they may have deeper meaning to someone living with pain, but I promise if you take the time read them all the way too will be blessed.

From the chapter titled: "What Benefit is There to My Pain?"
"Maybe like me, you've occasionally worried that the cares, troubles and afflictions of this life will simply begin to wear you down, dulling your joy, deluding your hope, and robbing you of the radiance you once experienced as a believer. 
In fact, it may be the very opposite.
It isn't the hurts, bumps and bruises that rob us of the freshness of Christ's beauty in our lives.  More likely, it is careless ease, empty pride, earthly preoccupations and too much prosperity that will put layers of dirty film over our souls."
(Oh my word.  I really needed to hear that.)

From the chapter: "How Can I Go on Like This?"  (Can I hear an amen for these chapter titles?)
I am so glad that this life for us is not an easy road.  If it were, if the Lord didn't occasionally give us a taste of hell's splash over, you and I would soon forget that this world is not our home.  I'm also grateful that he opens our eyes from time to time to the magnitude of this spiritual war we are in, He does this by giving us wonderful foretastes of glory divine in the joys we experience, and he does it by allowing us foretastes of hell in our suffering."
(What a powerful thought. Suffering reminds us there is a hell.)

From  the chapter: "How Can I Bring Him Glory?"
"I've fought for just the smallest bits of normalcy and peace in my war with pain, and I don't feel as if I have very much left to offer at all. 
But in the final scheme of things, I know it doesn't matter.
He is the One who will make the most of the little I've got.  He is the One who took note of the widows mite, dropped into treasury and affirmed that her little was worth more in heaven's sight than the offering of those who had given much."
(What an encouragement to a wife and mother like me who feels her limitations so profoundly)

Of course I could go on and on, but I've gushed enough for one post.  Suffice it to say I am reading this book with a swelling, thankful heart--to Joni and to the God we both serve. 
I hope I can honor Him in my pain half as much as she does.