Friday, March 29, 2013

Are You Wrestling or Dancing?

Today was an awesome day!  Nothing could have ruined it because today, for the first Thursday for more than a year, I didn’t have chemotherapy.

Believe me that after the year I have had, I was tired.  Tired of feeling crappy and having to run to the bathroom.  Tired of not being able to take care of my family the way I think I should be able.  Tired of not sleeping at night because I felt so completely full of chemicals.  I felt bone tired, soul sucking, weary that no amount of sleep was ever going to make up for.

I appreciate the break from weekly chemo, but my war with cancer is far from over. Maybe you know how I feel because you too are experiencing a situation that you never wanted and you never imagined you’d ever be suffering.  Maybe it involves physical pain, but emotional pain can be just as, if not more, draining. And sometimes there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

There is that famous saying that there is “no rest for the weary.”  But I believe there is.  The Lord said that “his burden was light” (Matt. 11:30) and that “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  (Matt.  11:28)  Sometimes God alleviates the problem at the very moment we fall to our knees in prayer, but often times nothing about our circumstances change. So how do we find this rest?

The first step is the beginning of the Matthew 11:30 quote from above. Jesus says “my yoke is easy. . .” We must yoke ourselves with Jesus. We do this by taking our cares to Him in prayer, even if that is simply “Jesus, please help.”  We are then like two beasts of burden carrying our load together.  But it is even better, because Jesus is so much stronger than us.  He takes most of the load while the yoke allows us to share that strength and remain standing. Jesus will carry our burden so that we can find rest.

The second step is releasing the needless struggle against what is happening.  We can ask “Why me?”  all day long and I do think there is benefit in the asking (I’ll write about that at another time) but don’t expect any answer to be satisfying in the midst of the pain.  God is the author of the universe and so much higher than us, I don’t think the answer would even make sense.  Instead, focus on the blessings that you already have. The pain of our circumstances may be hiding these gifts--everlasting life and love, a hope and a future. There is refreshing and rest in the remembering of these gifts and having a heart of gratitude. We don’t need to struggle against God’s will for our lives because he knows what is best.  Our circumstances might get better or worse, but God never changes. We can't base our joy on the vagaries of life.  God is good, no matter what happens to us and looking at our lives through those God colored glasses will refresh our souls.

I am reminded of Jacob wrestling with God.  After wrestling all night long, Jacob said to God “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  How silly a statement in the light of the fact that Jacob had already been blessed by God more than twenty years before.  But maybe he didn’t know it was God?  He did ask the man, “Tell me your name?”  But the man didn’t reply and still Jacob called the place Peniel because he saw God face to face there.  Jacob knew it was God and he knew he had been blessed but it took his hip being wrenched from the socket for him to stop and really encounter God face to face.  When God is all we have, then we know He is all we need.
Instead of struggling with God over why you are in pain, why not dance with Him?  The difference?  Who is in the lead?

Psalm 62:5
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.