Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Miracle after the Pain

Wracked with pain, eaten with frustration, dizzy with weakness, I slump in my recliner.

Tears of self-pity wash my face, their saltiness a bitter reminder to me of what I am missing.

For months I have been looking forward to this weekend, anticipating the moment when we will open doors to our new church and also throw a big festival party for the city of Lexington, Kentucky. The object of this annual event is to get more people interested in coming to church and hearing about Jesus.

I have yearned to hear my favorite band, Third Day, bring home the message of God’s love. I have been anxiously praying for people who will process these ideas – perhaps for the first time in their lives.

I was supposed to volunteer at this event.

I was supposed to help shepherd kids in their entertainment corner of this large festival. I was supposed to also hop online with other Web chatterers and talk to people viewing the event from around the world. I was supposed to take Neil around to carnival rides and buy him a funnel cake and help him play games.

Instead, I languish. I wilt. I droop more than the tomato plants that are dying at the base of my porch steps.

I am ill. I have discovered this week that I will have surgery. At first it was thought I had cancer – a type of which only 50 percent of women survive the first five years. I gritted my teeth and worried for 24 hours until it was determined the abnormal growth in my body was not cancerous … but then I found out I would still have to subject myself to the knife.

It will be the fourth time in four years.

Then, one day before this big festival occurred, the pain overtook me. It pummeled my body. It was relentless. It ate at my insides like shark teeth.

It. Never. Quit.

And so I quit.

And here I sat, on Sunday morning, my husband and son off to the church, off to the festival, while my dog buried his web nose in the palm of my hand and licked the salt from my cheeks.

“I am useless. I can’t be used. I am done.” I said to God.

Resigned, I opened my laptop to watch the first online service at my church, which was being broadcast live on the Internet.

And that’s when she came.

My friend, far away.

I had so desperately wanted her to watch. And she was there, in the chat room, watching. She began asking questions. She chatted with others. She processed the story of the Prodigal son. She began to grasp the meaning of God’s unconditional love.

She said she will be back next week.

Later tonight, I chatted online during the festival, also broadcast live.

And as the band Third Day praised Jesus, I also began to praise Him, typing in messages to the chat room about His Glory, His Beauty, His Grace.

Others followed suit.

They too started talking about their experiences with Him. They started sharing how He had changed their lives. We dug deep together, clinging to each other via the light of a computer screen, united only by our thoughts and our hearts.

And that’s when people started to write that they were moved, that they were crying, that they needed prayer.

That’s when I realized … I am being used! He is allowing me to participate, even though I thought I had been tossed to the sidelines like a limp rag doll.

Others sent me emails. They told me that my prayers had helped them. They said that they had grasped a formerly difficult concept about God for chatting with me.

They said I had brought a smile to their faces.

I’m not writing this to you to brag.

I writing this because I want to show you, to tell you – God can use you, no matter your circumstances.

God allowed my body to be used as a punching bag for illness so that I would become weak this week … so that I would learn from Him.

What did I learn?

He is the one who brings people to Himself. We are helpless to do it without Him. And despite our weaknesses, His strength is made perfect through us. He uses us anyway, no matter our limitations! He loves us! He guides us! He prods us to help others!

And with His Mercy and Grace, with His infinite strength, we are allowed to become His vessels of glory. We are allowed to be used to draw others into His arms.

The Miracle after the Pain … that He would deign to use even me.

I can sleep, knowing that every second of suffering … was worth it.


  1. Well, I'm so sorry to hear about your pain/surgery. I've had a similar time of suffering with a hysterectomy.

    I've also felt the pull between feeling useless and being used and then discovering that God is using me even when I don't expect that to be the case.

    I've had a day like that today.

    Blessings to you this week; I pray you're on the mend soon.


  2. Hi Elaine! Thank you for the encouragement. Yes, I am having the same surgery. I should email you to get your tips on recovery! :-)

    Hope you have a great week. How awesome is this technology to connect everyone after all of these years? It's like we never missed a beat after college.