Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1
Last week (“He Owes Me What?”) I shared about a time when I was going through more pain than I had ever known so far, and the way I had felt how “unfair” it was, since I had taken such good care of myself – ate right, exercised, etc. As the title implied, I had to correct my thinking, that somehow God “owed” me a healthy body, just because I had been doing all the “right” things.
Okay, lesson learned. But in those moments of helpless agony, I had another frustration, and that was that all this pain wasn’t really accomplishing anything. My friend Kelly, mother of five, had asked me if I would compare the level of pain to that of childbirth, and I had said it was worse, because, unlike labor pains, this pain had no breaks. Another reason it seemed worse was that labor pains usually have a very positive outcome – a brand new little person! I felt that somehow I wouldn’t mind all this quite as much if I knew that what I was going through had some purpose to it.
During that time, in my delirious ramblings, somewhere in my prayers was Lord, if I’m not getting relief from this, would You at least let this pain be subtracted from somebody else’s suffering? I’d like to think that while I’m going through this, I am sparing someone else from having to endure the same thing. Weird prayer, maybe, but as I said last week, I was being pretty weird.
I had the radio on to try to get my mind on other things besides how awful I felt, and on the local news I heard about a young man in the military from a small town in our area who had been captured by the enemy. I immediately recognized that I had something new to pray about. I spent some time praying for this young man by name, and contemplating the fact that, unlike me, he may be surrounded by people who not only didn’t care if he was hurting, but may have been devoting their energies to making sure he suffered as much as humanly possible. I tried to ignore my pounding head and sinus pressure so bad it made my teeth hurt, and focus on this young man, who, for all I knew, was going through way worse than I was.
When this whole ordeal was over for me, I marveled at how good “normal” felt after being so miserable for a few days. Some time later, the news came out that the soldier I had been praying for had been released and had come home. Delighted, I sat down to read the full-page article in the local paper. Most of the article was an interview with the young man about his experience, beginning with his capture.
He immediately had my sympathy when I read that his enemies had broken his nose during the capture. What really got my attention, however, was what he had said after he had described the various beatings and other abuses he had received: He had added that, oddly enough, through all the other pain, his broken nose had never really hurt.
I’m not saying that I was feeling his broken nose or had anything to do with this bizarre detail, but it did help to think that maybe – just maybe – God had answered my prayer and subtracted this pain from the man I was praying for.
I’ll add it to my list of things I’m going to ask Him when I see Him.
Prayer: Lord, Jesus, I can’t fathom the pain You went through for us, at the hands of the very people You were dying for. I can’t fathom that kind of love. In view of Your mercy, I offer You my body as a living sacrifice, to use in ways I may not understand now. But I trust You, always. In Your name, Amen.