Thanksgiving-a time when we give thanks for all the blessings, all the good, everything that’s gone well-is what marks the beginning for me. It was the beginning of a journey I never wanted to take, down a path with several twists and turns. It was the beginning of what has been the end for me of many things, and I wonder what more it will take from me. It was the beginning of chronic pain.
Only days after Thanksgiving, 2007, I found myself nearly immobilized by pain. I was floored, literally, by a pain that seized and controlled and left me out of control, on the floor desperate for relief. Not even the un-medicated childbirth of my third born compared to this pain.
Now four years later, after numerous scans, doctors and therapies, I still find myself at times bulldozed by gnawing, distracting, and even seizing pain. I’m grateful for respites, and I’m grateful for tolerable. I’m still learning to give thanks for the intolerable, crushing blows, though.
Sometimes the pain chains me to this earth--to the fallenness of this world and the brokenness of my body. It distracts me from being heavenly minded because so much concern and thought is devoted to relief .
But, sometimes the pain is a door of mercy, opening up to me mysteries I’d not understand otherwise, insights I’d not see, and beauty I’d not know. I had one such time recently as I lay face down on the floor with ice. It was there God lifted me and opened my eyes to see past the pain, to feel beyond the discomfort, to know Him while I shared in just a taste of His suffering.
From my journal that morning, I wrote, “Down on the floor, it's dirty and dusty, and I lay in the midst of it. I don't just see it; I'm in it. And I'm thinking this morning as I peer under my nightstand that this might be just a taste of what it was like for Jesus to come live among us--among our filth and sin.”
He left the brilliance of Heaven to live among the base.
He left the splendor of Heaven to live among the simple.
He left the grandeur of heaven to live among the ungrateful.
He left the virtue of Heaven to live among the vile.
Thank you, Lord, for your willing condescension.
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8