Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What Paul Taught Me About Pain

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

My cancer is growing. How fast, I cannot say, but it is more difficult now than it was last week, both in what I can do and in terms of pain. I won’t dwell on that here, except that it has brought unexpected blessings of perception, perhaps a few insights. That verse from Paul was one I thought I understood, but I have a different take on it now. Obviously, I have no idea what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was, although I cannot help but consider my similarity when I feel a jab in my side, unexpected and sharp. I imagine Paul thinking from time to time, that maybe he has gotten past the problem, when suddenly he feels it again, maybe when he tries to sleep, maybe while eating, but a nasty reminder that he is never free from it. It seems quite apt to call such a thing a “messenger from Satan, to torment”.

But maybe it’s not quite the same for me. Where Paul calls his pain a messenger from Satan, I believe mine is a reminder from God. I am reminded that we all must die one day, that all sorts of things we might think are important are really just vanity and selfish pursuits. I am reminded that many people are in pain, sometimes temporary and sometimes permanent, sometimes minor and sometimes a torment, sometimes it seems just part of life which we all must face, and sometimes a singular injustice we did nothing to deserve. On the one hand, I sometimes complain that every time I seem to start getting things to go well in my life, something seems to happen which ruins it all. On the other hand, I have seen children with cancer, and people who found out too late to do anything but wait for death, and I am ashamed of my own complaint. Sometimes I feel that I do not receive what I have worked for, that I am cheated of justice and my right reward, but then I see others who have been cheated to a greater degree, and for much longer, and again I am silenced by that rebuke.

I think about things, especially at night when I am having trouble getting sleep. I realize that I live for a purpose, and I want very badly not to screw up the things that matter. I do not just desire to be a good husband and father, I need to be the best husband and father that I can possibly be. I do not simply want to live in service to God and as a witness to His love, I need to do so. I do not simply wish to help people understand what hope and joy and peace are really like, I need to do my best to help people find those things if they desire them.

Even if I beat this thing, I am aware that the clock is running.

Painfully aware.


smh10 said...


Simply eloquent!

Thoughts and prayers remain with you.

Bill said...

May God give you comfort as you deal with your illness.

May you have peace knowing that His grace is sufficient for all your cares and needs.

May God grant you healing to show his power and his love.

May He continue to use you as a witness for his Son Jesus.

Jeanette said...


Know you are in our prayers and we love you. Use every resource available to you to get through this ordeal and especially continue to use your faith in God.

You have a story to tell that isn't complete yet, and when you are healed you can tell of what God has done for you.

Best wishes, my friend.

Kathy said...

Romans 8. To use a bloggers term, read the whole thing. In times of trouble, it's been great solace for me, and I hope it will for you. Bits and pieces are always with me...

... neither height nor depth. nor princes, nor principalities... can separate us from the love that is in our Lord Jesus Christ.

... for if we hope for things not seen then do we with patience wait for them...

... all things work to the good ...

May the God give you peace and comfort, and as your friend let me give you assurance. We are praying for you, hoping with you, and standing by you.

You are not alone.

CharlyG said...

DJ - I had heard from Jeanette last week but wanted to come here in person to let you know I'm praying for you. You and I have had some good talks and debates, and other than our Theological differences, we seemed to be on the same page.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

COgirl said...

DJ, your strength in the face of all of this is astounding.

You are in my thoughts and prayers. You can lick this thing!

Big Mo said...

DJ - may God use you through His Son for His designs in your hour of affliction.

Your insights are always wonderful to read. Our prayers are with you!

Dan said...

Praying for you. That's all I know to do.

JB said...

Best wishes, DJ.

Marcus said...

Get better soon DJ!!!

akaDoug said...

Our political views may be vastly different but we are brothers in Christ.

May God give you continued strength and may God watch over and protect your family.

Lenny said...

You are in my thoughts and prayers. May the good Lord watch over you and your family...giving you peace, comfort, love and strength thru this time.