Stand

Standing, in our culture, is considered an act of respect and commendation. When a judge enters the court room, everyone stands. At a graduation procession, everyone stands. And in a worship service at church, everyone stands.

Romans 14:10-12

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Besides sin, all of humanity holds this in common. One day we will all stand before God (v. 10). Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God (v. 12). Yet we also have something else in common: We will all bow before before God as we acknowledge Him.

For a while now, I’ve held on to the hope that in Heaven, I will no longer experience pain in standing, walking, or running. I have often turned to Isaiah 40:29-31 for literal encouragement.

Isaiah 40:29-31

29 He gives strength to the weary
and strengthens the powerless.
30 Youths may faint and grow weary,
and young men stumble and fall,
31 but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary;
they will walk and not faint.

However, now I’m realizing that whether or not this passage literally plays out doesn’t change my hope; whether or not I’m able to actually “run and not grow weary,” or “walk and not faint,” doesn’t matter. What matters is that I will be in the presence of the One who is truly the Healer of my soul.

The act of standing before God is something to anticipate. But who’s to say that we’ll be able to stand? Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and soaked in the words of His message and the joy of His presence (Luke 10:39). Saul fell down at the sight of Jesus at his conversion (Acts 9:4). And “the 24 elders fall down before the One seated on the throne” (Revelation 4:10).

I personally feel that the ability to stand is often taken advantage of by most people. I used to be bitter over the fact that I am less capable of standing without pain than other people. But now God is showing me that the ability to sit (or stand or lay flat on my face) in His presence is truly a gift. The joy of being in the presence of God should be enough to satisfy me.

So because Jesus stood before the Roman soldiers and received the punishment we deserve, “we have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).

God is Great, God is Good

“God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. By His hands, we are fed. Thank You, God, for daily bread. Amen.”

If you’re like me and grew up in the children’s ministry of a church, you’ve probably recited this prayer. In this simplistic prayer spoken by pre-schoolers, the core belief of Christianity is found. “God is great. God is good.” This first line of a child’s prayer contains the answer to why anything happens in life.

When God created the world, He saw that it was good. God in His existence and dwelling place is good. Then, He decided to create human beings with souls that were not of Himself. Because God created something that was not Himself, He created beings that were not innately good.

God is good.

Man is not God.

Man is not good.

Considering why certain things in life happen can bring one back to the belief that God is good. In difficult times, we tend to question the most basic belief of Christianity. I know I have experienced major doubt concerning this belief.

In the first few years of my pain, God taught me in multiple ways about His faithfulness, why He would never leave me. So I have rarely doubted His faithfulness since the time He began to prove it in numerous ways. But the very truth that used to comfort me began to haunt me when I doubted God’s goodness: Yes, I believed, God will never leave me. But, I questioned, the same God who causes my pain will never leave my side? The faithfulness of God is not the core belief of Christianity, because believing in the goodness of God determines one’s eternal destiny.

God is good, yet so is doubt. Questioning one’s beliefs can bring oneself to a much deeper understanding of these beliefs. While I didn’t find one specific answer that solved all elements of my doubt, over time, God also began to prove His goodness to me. One proof is found in Romans 12:2, which says that God’s will is good, pleasing, and perfect. God wouldn’t create a life’s purpose to be anything but good. He also wouldn’t create a situation’s purpose to be anything but good (for believers- Romans 8:28).

Because of my doubt, I pushed God away from me for several weeks. I claimed to not be mad at God, but I didn’t want to get too close in case He decided to bring more hurt to my life. However, this act of pushing God away is the exact opposite purpose of my pain.

Hosea 6:1 New Living Translation (NLT)

“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
now he will bandage our wounds.

Lamentations 3:32 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Even if He causes suffering,
He will show compassion
according to His abundant, faithful love.

In the process of pushing God away, I became even more focused on my pain. I embraced the hurt rather than the Healer. When He rescued me by teaching me that the joy of the Lord is my strength, I was overwhelmed by His goodness. How can God be so good that He sent His perfect Son to pay with His life for the imperfection of man? How can He be so good to offer us redemption and a renewed relationship with Him? How can He be so good to take us to extreme measures in order for us to accept His healing touch?

God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our pain.

Inexpressible and Glorious Joy

If you watch the video above, you will be exposed to the power of chronic pain over emotions. Watching this entire video led me to understand why my pain seems to take over every part of my life. The biggest takeaway I got from the video was the concept of retraining the brain. By avoiding fear with each step on my hurt foot, I can potentially lessen the amount of pain I experience.

Similarly, I need to retrain my brain to avoid the negative perception I have of my pain. I’ve previously mentioned the difficulty I have in taking my first step each morning. Usually the fear I have towards that first step of the morning, keeps me in bed with a sense of discouragement. I’ve prayed countless times to be given the strength–both physical and emotional–to get out of bed. I realize now that “the joy of the Lord is [my] strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

1 Peter 1:5-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 You rejoice in this,[a] though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in[b] praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your[c] faith, the salvation of your souls.[d]

I also need to retrain my brain spiritually; my question needs to change from “God, why have You caused me so much pain?” to “God, why have you been so good to me?” He has given me freedom from the bondage of sin and the opportunity to spend forever in His presence! Why then do I feel I am entitled to immediate healing? Jesus Himself underwent physical suffering “for the joy that lay before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). Because He saw the prize of our souls, He was willing to pay the price for them. If Jesus can experience joy in physical pain, so can I.

My goal is to retrain my brain from seeking joy despite my circumstances to seeking joy IN my circumstances.