Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sacrifice of Pain

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name.  – Hebrews 13:15 (NIV)
On Monday, June 6, I will undergo surgery to repair three herniated disks in my neck.
But the pain isn’t what one would expect at this point.
It all started in November when my left arm started going numb. In December, I had carpal tunnel surgery, but the pain only got worse—much worse. It was constant, debilitating. It felt as though a knife was stuck in my left shoulder. Christmas and January passed in a blur of pain. I taught school in the mornings, then spent my afternoons on the love seat with a heating pad on my back, waiting for the Tylenol with codeine to take effect. Many evenings my husband had to make supper.
One afternoon in February as I was plopped on the love seat, waiting for the pain to subside, I imagined Jesus hanging on the cross. My pain, I realized, as bad as it was, wasn’t even a fraction of what He suffered. A phrase from Hebrews 13:15 popped into my mind: “sacrifice of praise.” I’d often wondered how praise could be a sacrifice. Now I understood. I could praise God in my pain, which would be a reminder of what Jesus did for me. I’d offer a sacrifice of pain.
And so I prayed, “Lord, let this pain be a reminder of what You did for me. I offer it up to You as a sacrifice.”
A week later the pain was gone.
I didn’t expect that. I expected the pain to continue. I looked forward to having something to offer God. I didn’t ask for healing. I didn’t ask for the pain to be taken away.
Oh, I still pay the price when I overdo, but I haven’t had the knife-in-the-shoulder pain since. And I’ve been able to do more, like make supper and clean up after.
Why didn’t He heal my disks? I don’t know. And I don’t wonder. What I do know is that I am in the palm of His Hand (Isaiah 49:16), and that He is in control of everything that touches me, that enters my life. Whether it be joy, sorrow, pain, suffering, He has allowed it for a reason.
I can honestly say the words of the Habakkuk:
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
O LORD my God, I cried to thee for help, and thou hast healed me (Psalm 30:2). Thank You! Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Psalm 30

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