The Strength for Today
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
I read today’s devotional from Joni Eareckson Tada and had to chuckle; Joni, did you somehow read my mind when you picked this entry for today? Nope - it’s just another example of God working out his perfect plans in a billion different ways each second that our pea-sized brains (as Joni would say) couldn’t possibly comprehend!
In late 2011 I’d been living with severe chronic pain for nearly a year; I’d just started treatment at a pain clinic in downtown Seattle, and they had a new 2-day class that taught the basic science and concepts behind chronic pain, along with strategies for coping and managing this difficult condition. I sat in the very back, next to a silver-haired woman in her mid-50’s who looked frazzled in a way I’d never seen before. As we went around the room sharing our stories, she told the group her journey with pain had lasted over 11 years My reaction:. Eleven years?!? God - please, please, PLEASE say this isn’t possible!!! HOW can someone live in pain this long?!? It hasn’t even been a year for me yet and I feel like I’m coming unglued at the seams on a daily basis. There’s NO WAY I can do this for eleven years; I don’t think I can last another eleven days!!!
Eight and a half years later I find myself here - still living daily with pain that in the mornings feels as though it will break me, then comes back in late evening for an encore performance. Yet, by the grace and mercy of my Abba Father I’m not just surviving like I was eight years ago, but somehow I’m living, finding bits of joy and things to be thankful for each and every day. I’ve been able to work here at the radio station for nearly 4 years now, a job that allows me to serve the body each and every day and bless many at the same time. I’m a husband of an amazing wife and father to two beautiful kids. No, life isn’t all butterflies, rainbows, and birds singing - but it isn’t all bad either, and pain no longer defines my identity. No doubt it’s a part of my story, and one that has deeply impacted just about every area of my life - but first and foremost I’m a child of the KIng, and he is greater than the pain, or any other struggle this life throws my way.
Joni puts it this way:
To persevere is to endure a hard thing for a long time, leaving the length of the trial totally in God’s hands. The author of Hebrews writes, “Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” And that promise is the incomparable reward of Jesus saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23)
When my mind starts spinning about the “what if’s” of pain, I start to lose it. When I surrender the unknowns to Jesus I find peace again; the burdens of today are already so heavy on their own - why add more? That is a daily process; just this morning I had a total freak-out, near-meltdown trying to imagine what the next year was going to be like. Driving home from the gym I prayed and asked God to forgive me.
Do you feel like throwing in the towel today? I did just this morning! Fret not my friend - you’re not alone! Stay connected to the vine, Jesus Christ, and he will help you bear the fruit of perseverance. Like Joni said in today’s devotional: “For me, perseverance can often seem like an elusive thing out ahead of me, like a dangling carrot. And as much as I try to reach for it, I can’t quite attain to it. But then, before I know it, I’m there. I’ve made it to the other side.” We’ll be there soon enough too.