Sunday, May 29, 2011

A sharp knife in the back

Yesterday I worked very hard cleaning my home and my car. It was one of those days I pushed myself beyond my own limits. When you live with chronic pain you don't have to do much to cause more pain. You feel it deep within your body. It's almost as though your bones are screaming and your muscles are saying, "No, no more, please."

As the night approached it felt as if I had a knife in my back. A sharp knife, sticking in my shoulder blade. Each movement hurt. Even being still made me want to cry out. Nothing seemed to take the pain away. The more I moved, the more it felt like it was digging in deeper. You just want to reach back there and pull it out to give relief, but you can't. It's not reachable. It's not doable on your own.

Ever feel betrayed? You feel like you have put everything you have into the relationship and then out of no where comes a sharp object and you know it's going to hurt. You just don't know how much at the time. Maybe just a little sting as the pain enters? No, you feel the blade enter and you feel the wound get bigger and bigger with each push. You want nothing more than to stop the pain. It isn't anything you caused yourself. It was another who pushed in the knife. You try with all your might to reach and stretch trying to get it out. To bring about healing and comfort. But, you simply can't do it by yourself. Someone has to remove the knife. Someone has to apply the ointment for healing. What happens when there is no one to pull it out? Where do you turn?

When we are hurt, all we want is healing. We want to find relief. We search our hearts for a reason and rhyme. Sometimes there just isn't any and that is what makes healing hard. When we don't know the cause, how can we alleviate the symptoms? We can't just cover them up. Oh, we can try. We can try to ignore the pain, but it's always there, cutting deeper into our flesh. When you hurt in one place, you feel the pain all over. The pain grabs hold of every nerve and joint connecting flesh to flesh.

For me, my only option is turning to Christ. Only He can remove the pain. He knows what that sharp knife feels like all to well, doesn't He? How many times was He betrayed by those He loved? What does He say about betrayal and forgiveness?

"Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21-22

"And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors." Matthew 6:12

"For if you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15

"But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To Him who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise." Luke 6:27-31

Jesus makes it pretty clear doesn't He? We are called to forgive. We are called to not only forgive once, but to keep forgiving as we call upon God to forgive us. Isn't that just like us? We hold in such anger towards others. We carry such bitterness around with us. We want to hold onto our anger and wrath, but we want Jesus to forgive us of our sins. We call to Him wanting forgiveness and He is there waiting on us, willing to forgive us. Shouldn't that work both ways? Who are we to hold onto to anger when we ourselves are searching for peace? Jesus also calls us to pray for those who have hurt us. Give to those who have caused us pain. That is not easy is it? Jesus didn't say it was easy, He simply said, do it. There are no if, ands or buts. There are no excuses. We can't stand before Him and say, "But Jesus, You don't know what they did to me." Yes, He does. He knows better than anyone what betrayal feels like. He not only knows the pain, He is the Healer and Comforter in our time of pain. It is in Him that we can find peace even when we don't understand.

Jesus was rejected by His own. He is still rejected today. In Luke 6:12-16 we can read how Jesus picked the twelve disciples. He picked them. He chose them. In verse 16 we read, "Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor."  We too can read in Luke 22:1-6 about betrayal. In verse 6 it says, "So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude." Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss! "But Jesus said to him, 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" Luke 22:48

Jesus just wasn't betrayed by Judas. He was betrayed by Peter when he denied him, not once, but three times. Ever feel as if you have been denied by those you love? Is there any worse feeling than denial? To have one you love with all your heart act as if they don't even know you? Luke 22:54-62 we can read of Peter betraying Jesus. Friends, Jesus knows the pain of betrayal. It seems His whole life He has been betrayed by those He loves. Jesus didn't turn from Peter. He gave forgiveness. Can you find forgiveness in your heart for those who have betrayed you? It's tough, isn't it? It seems we spend our lives forgiving others. But, isn't that what love is all about? We are fallen creatures. We are imperfect. We will make mistakes daily. We will fall. When we do many will turn away. Many will talk and make that knife appear even sharper, but even in our deepest pain we can remember Jesus. We can find forgiveness and love in Him. If He is the only One standing with us, well then, He is enough.

"And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

See, we can't remove the knife, but Jesus can. He can reach where we cannot. He can heal where we cannot. His love and forgiveness goes beyond reason. His love reaches all doubt. We can't simply give up and not love. Sure, it might be the safe way, but can we really find joy without love? We must continue to pray. We must continue to reach out. We must be who Christ has called us to be. Even when we don't see change coming. Even when the hurt is deep. Just when all hope seems to be gone, Jesus finds a way. With Jesus there is always hope. There is always healing to be found. Yes, of course, we must look to the cross, but friends, Jesus is no longer on the cross!! He is risen! It is in Him that we find hope. Joy. Ever lasting life.

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma." Ephesians 5:1-2
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