Pain….I’ve been living with that most unwelcome visitor lately. Having moved in and made itself at home, it is a very demanding visitor!
The problem with pain is that it wants all of your attention!. It hurts! It is hard to ignore it. What is causing it? How can you get rid of it? If it leaves for a while, is it going to come back?. How many pills are left in that bottle? Will there be enough to get through ’til the insurance kicks in again? Doctor appointments; Google; WebMD; Symptom Checker, vitamins & herbs; icepacks; hot packs; OTC everything … On and on it goes. Just how can you make it stop? Make. It. Stop. The reality is that it changes your life and your focus. It begins to become the center of your reality; it can become your identity.
More than a little discouraging, it is depressing. Life is not what it used to be. The drugs mess with your mind and you emotions, so you begin to question your thoughts and feelings. Like little foxes, pain spoils the fruit on your vine.
This little fox has run off with my words! It’s hard to write; it’s hard to pray; it’s hard to praise! My heart feels like a rock. My tongue seems frozen to the roof of my mouth. Where are my words??
I’m sure that some of you have felt that way at times when you’ve experienced wrenching loss and grief, or health problems. Maybe your son or daughter is in trouble. Perhaps someone you’ve loved with all of your heart has betrayed you. We suffer on this earth. And we know that Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 KJV Sometimes it just seems too hard to be cheerful. It’s not that you don’t believe it, it’s just that pain has come for a visit, and is clamoring for all of our attention, and our words have left us…words of prayer; words of praise; words of warfare and victory.
It is hard to go to the Lord without words. Hosea tells us to take with us words and turn to the Lord!
Hosea 14:2 Take with you words and turn to the Lord: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so we will render the calves of our lips.
Calves? The calves of our lips, you say? Yes, just like they took offerings of cattle to sacrifice to the Lord, we now offer Him our words.
Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
Sometimes it IS a sacrifice to offer our words. Sometimes we must dig deep, cast the stones out of the well, to get the river of praise and prayer to flow again. We may be tempted to just sit down and not make the effort…because it IS effort. We must be intentional about bringing our words to the Lord.
Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” that he asked repeatedly for God to remove. Was it physical pain? A discouraging, besetting trait? Was it an emotional hurt that beleagured him? The Bible never tells us for sure what Paul’s thorn was, but this is what Paul wrote about the answer to his prayer:
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 & 10
The Apostle Paul surely experienced pain in his life, his body, his fellowship, his ministry…but he never seems to have been at a loss for words! He wrote most of the New Testament! Plus, he mentions other letters that we have not seen. He prayed; he exhorted; he corrected, chastised, and encouraged. But most importantly he praised! Beautiful heartwarming, inspiring praises and prayers.
So, when I am stuck with no words of my own, I am going to start with Paul’s words! Or ANY of the WORD words. And I am going to speak the Word aloud, not just read them in my head. I am going to loosen my tongue with the Word of God. I am going to break up my fallow ground with my praise plow, until the rain of heaven falls again and His strength is made perfect in my affliction.
Let’s pray: Lord Jesus, Word of God made flesh, Let Your Word be made flesh in our stoney hearts. Help us to come to you with the calves of our lips that we may be whole again. In Jesus’ name,