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The long line of pain runs down from my lower back, through my left hip and radiates through my leg: here, there, tight, loose, numb, excruciating and stiff. It's been a long couple of weeks. Sleepless nights, comfortless rest, painful living-it-out regardless. I can't stop, and I wouldn't want to. I can't find a way to sit that doesn't hurt. I can't stay on my feet 24 hours a day either.
It's improving. Chiropractor, PA at the "Care Spot" and some ibuprofen to ease the tightness in my back have all helped. Prayer from friends helps too, but I admit...
I don't think God is interested in making life pain free.
I want prayer, I want this to go away, don't get me wrong. I also know that God didn't give me this pain. He's told me that much. I just have this knowing in me that He is using this for some much needed character building. So I pray and I ache for relief, but I also relish His steady encouragement beside me. Whispers to my heart of strength and endurance that He has in spades.
Here's the thing: In this world we will have tribulation...
There is an enemy and believe it or not he's painted a target on our backs. No one is exempt. I don't believe that I'm more or less of a target because of my importance to the Kingdom of God. I don't believe the phrase: "I must be doing something right for the devil to attack me like this." Not every time anyway. I simply believe that the enemy is doing his job and you and I, your saintly mama, and your waste-case third cousin, are all targets. The rain falls on the just and the unjust...it's no great honor to get wet.
Here's the other thing though: "I have overcome the world." - Jesus
See, sometimes He protects us and steers us away from trouble, and sometimes he just holds our hand all the way through it. The more we trust, the more we let him handle, the more we cast on him, the more we trust that easy yoke, the easier this path is. Do not let anyone tell you the fire isn't hot. It's very hot, but He will take the heat for you. Pain is real, but He is a comforter. Sickness, disease, depression, weakness, strife...all real, all difficult, sometimes deadly, but He IS aware, present, interested and intervening.
His mercies are new every morning. I put that one on my fridge in the middle of the night as I paced around my house in desperate need of relief and sleep.
Then this morning I read this:
"Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth,”
Let Israel now say—
“Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth;
Yet they have not prevailed against me.
THE PLOWERS PLOWED ON MY BACK;
THEY MADE THEIR FURROWS LONG.”
The Lord is righteous;
He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked." Psalm 129:1-4 (NKJV, emphasis added)
Oh how deep that furrow feels, I thought. And why...why would he plow, unless he intends to plant? What is his intention here?
See, I have asked God the same question. What is it that He wishes to do in my life? What promise can I hold on to, and what is on the other side of this valley? He spoke to me of fruitfulness. The word "Negev" came to mind. It's a southern arid place that God promises in Psalm 126 to bring streams to, in Isaiah He promises to produce trees in arid places that are not native to that region. Miraculous fruitfulness! God has seeds to plant in me, seeds that may not begin any other way, than if I am plowed out deep.
The enemy has seeds too. He desires to see me grow in doubt, bitterness, idolatry, contempt and unhealthy anger. These are all temptations I've faced. The rest of chapter 129 though...
"Let all those who hate Zion
Be put to shame and turned back.
LET THEM BE AS THE GRASS ON THE HOUSETOPS,
WHICH WITHERS BEFORE IT GROWS UP,
WITH WHICH THE REAPER DOES NOT FILL HIS HAND,
NOR HE WHO BINDS SHEAVES, HIS ARMS.
Neither let those who pass by them say,
“The blessing of the Lord be upon you;
We bless you in the name of the Lord!” Psalm 129:5-8 (NKJV emphasis added)
I am choosing my Shepherd daily. I must choose the Vine Dresser who knows my name and calls me by it. I must choose the Comforter over the cravings, the Healer over the hurt, the Physician over the fear, the Word over the worry, the Mercy over the murmuring, the One who overcomes the tribulation, not the way of overlooking the tribulation.
These furrows run deep, but He showed me some time ago, that so much of growth comes from cultivating...breaking up the hard ground, uprooting the unwanted growth and making room for good seed to grow as it should. No matter what the enemy has targeted for me, he will always be working against himself.
He will not have a harvest in me.
The enemy wishes to plant a seed that withers and is cut off, like grass on the housetops, Christ plants seeds that produce more seeds, more fruit, more life.
I choose life.
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