that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. Philippians 3:10
Five weeks ago, I sat down on the couch to read my Bible…and couldn’t get back up. I could feel my lower back tightening up the longer I sat there and when I tried to stand, pain began shooting through the bottom half of my body. I admit a strong stubborn streak (not a godly character quality, I know), so I waited 5 days before seeing the doctor. I could barely walk into his office and after a number of chiropractor visits, an MRI, ibuprofen, ice, heat, hot tubs, hot showers, and hot baths…I can still barely walk. The official diagnosis is a herniated disc…basically, the little discs that cushion your vertebrae are fluid-filled. One of mine has slipped out of its happy little spot, is leaking fluid and is pressing on a nerve (which is what is causing most of the pain, most of the time).
As I’ve been struggling to deal with the pain and continue doing all the things I need to do to keep our home running, I’ve been waiting for God to show me the purpose in all of this. For 5 weeks, I’ve been certain that something good was going to come out of all of this…some special ministry, some special blessing…something good. I have been getting through each day by clinging to the hope that God was going to show me something good in the middle of something bad.
This morning, I tried to join my family at church. Halfway through worship, I could barely feel my feet and my pain was stealing my focus and attention. As our pastor began to teach, my husband saw the tears rolling down my cheeks and told me he was going to take me home. Sobbing as I hobbled out to the car, I felt cheated. I wanted to be with my church family…was tired of being isolated …wanted to participate in my life. Hubs got me comfortable at home and went back to church for the kids. Desperate to understand, confused, angry, frustrated…I crawled out of bed and onto my face on the floor…begging God to have mercy on me, to help me understand.
I love how willing God is to speak to us. I hate that I wait so long to talk to Him sometimes. Not that I haven’t talked to him about my back pain and struggles…I have! But, as I look back over these last few weeks, I realize that most of what I’ve been talking to Him about is what I think I need and what I think He might be doing. My focus has been on seeing something good…
…not knowing Someone good.
And that’s what God gently showed me this morning. That my heart’s desire has been to see something awesome, see something special, see something good coming out of a bad situation. And sometimes He doesn’t let us see things that way.
I don’t feel chastised for what I’ve been longing for…just for wanting it more than God. It isn’t wrong to look for silver linings and the blessing of ministry. It isn’t wrong to look for evidence of God at work in our lives.
But those things are a distant second to seeking God Himself.
Here’s the challenge I’m left with (and so are you, friend): is God enough for me?
If He never heals my back–if I continue this earthly life with chronic pain–is knowing God and that He is good…is that enough for me? If I never see anything good come out of this suffering, can I come to know Him so intimately that I trust Him with it, knowing that His every thought toward me is of good?
You see, we can’t fully trust God if we aren’t seeking to fully know Him, too. To know His character, to know His Word, to know His promises. And while part of our knowledge is certainly based on what we see of God in the world around us, a greater intimacy comes from being enveloped in His presence. If our relationship with God is based on one mountain top experience after another, one amazing worship service after another, one ministry opportunity after another…we become conditioned to expect these things more and more often. And then we are disappointed and feel disconnected from Him when they are absent. And that is where I found myself this morning–disappointed. But, if our relationship is simply based on knowing Him, being in His presence, inviting Him to make Himself at home in our hearts…then we begin to have an honest, intimate relationship with Him. And that’s where I want to be…intimately connected to Him.
So, I write this in a new posture. I still seek healing. I still desire goodness to come from the suffering. I still want this to somehow bless someone else. But more than that, I want to really, really know God in a different way. To experience His presence in a deeper way. To trust in His promises for me in a new, more faith-filled way. To have greater intimacy with Him.
And I want that for you, too, friend. I want you to know God in a more intimate way. Whatever you are struggling with, whatever obstacles you are facing, seek God. Seek to do more than just see God…seek to know Him, know His character and promises. Seek to walk with Him and talk with Him through each day. Surrender yourself to the intimacy of a life lived in knowing Him.
Lord, I want to know You…really, really know You. I desire healing, I desire mercy…but more than that, I desire You. Help me to trust in You and Your promises. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.