Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pain

The best way out is always through.
Robert Frost

Our normal reaction to pain is to try and avoid it.  But, as Robert Frost pointed out, one will usually find that the best way to get out of an unpleasant state is to go through it.  Many of my life lessons have taught me this.  And the Bible certainly tells us that we have to go through it in order to get out of it. 

The best way out is always through.
Robert Frost

That kind of reminds me of what getting a tattoo is like.  The pain CAN become quite intense at times, so I would almost psychologically lean into the pain.  When the pain becomes hot and searing, I focus intently on the pain and imagine my whole body enveloping the pain and absorbing it.

The best way out is always through.
Robert Frost 

I reflect back on those really stressful nights in college and grad school when I just wanted to go to bed because I was mentally exhausted from worrying about a big paper or test that was coming up.  Rather than giving up and going to bed, I would gun it!  I would decide that rather than fall asleep at all, I would just sit down and pound out that paper on the keyboard, or make flashcards to help me study for the test.  Who needs sleep?  Just go for it!

The best way out is always through.
Robert Frost

I think about the passages of the Bible that tell us we will go through hard times.  God doesn't tell us we won't have pain, or we won't have heart ache.  God just promises to prepare us for those times and never to leave us during those times. 

"Strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
 
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones, not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:19)

I was just speaking to the kids at AWANA (a church program for children where they learn about God, the Bible and memorize some key verses) last night about the parting of the Red Sea.  It's a fabulously exciting story to read.  The Israelites are terrified because the Egyptians are hot on their trail.  They come to what appears to be a dead end; the Red Sea. Horrified, the Israelites start crying out to Moses.  Moses quickly calms them by saying,  
 
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14: 13, 14)

Once the Israelites were calm, and quiet, Moses extends his hand over the sea and God sends a remarkable wind; at just the right intensity for the just right amount of time to force the waters apart so the Israelites can safely walk across the entire Red Sea (THROUGH IT), to get to the other side, away from their enemy.  Then, in another twist, the waves come crashing down on the Egyptians and left them dead in the sea.   

God didn't say, "Okay, I'll make the Egyptians go back."  Nor did he say, "Okay, I won't harden their hearts this time."  God tells Moses specifically that he's doing it this way in order to show his glory so everyone, including the Egyptians will KNOW he is God.  The Israelites had to go THROUGH it in order to demonstrate the power and glory of God.  They were scared, hungry and tired, but God got them through it.

I remember back when Evie had cancer, I saw the sign on the highway that said, "To Chicago".  Oh, how I longed to runaway and get "out" of the bondage of cancer.  But I knew I worshiped a big God; a God bigger than cancer, bigger than death.  I had to go through it...that was the only way out.

When Jesus knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and said, "Father, take this cup..." because he knew that his death was eminent; he knew what the answer would be.  "You must go through it..."
 
How often are we in the midst of pain, and we just want to find a way out?  How often does God answer our prayers, not with an escape plan; rather an attack plan?  If I choose to follow his plan, I will be victorious; I will win the battle.  If I choose to run away, I run away-not from the problem, but I run away from God.. because that's where he is...right there in the middle of my desperate hour, just waiting for me to come through. 






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