Friday, July 11, 2008

Love that Hurts

When I was a little girl, my mom used to stretch my legs every night per recommendation of my physical therapist. I hated it. I would tell her she was hurting me and beg her to stop, but she continued with tears running down her face, saying “Shelly, I need to do this so you can walk… one day, you’ll understand.” She also told me to ‘walk straight’ when I lived at home, all the way until I went to college. The doctor had told her my secret – I could walk straight, I was just too lazy. I would get so mad at her for constantly ‘reminding’ me, “walk straight, turn your feet out, Shelly, pay attention to your walking!”
Drove me crazy!

Recently, I had a breakthrough, realizing I was mad at God for not protecting me from numerous hardships in my life. Because of all I endured as a child with cerebral palsy, a teen with Crohn’s disease, then a woman with major clinical depression, I felt like it was time for me to be rewarded for my determination. So when crisis after crisis rolled in, I was angry at Him for not intervening. These words came out of my mouth in a prayer just 4 weeks ago: “I thought I was a “friend of God”! I couldn’t stand by and watch my friends go through what I am going through. Where are you?!”

Fact is I exceeded my doctor’s expectations because of the storms and afflictions. I walk today because my mom refused to shield me from pain. I am independent today because God took me through darkness, where my only option was to completely surrender to him. God never promised us an easy life, but he promised grace, forgiveness, and love until the end. As I close with words from J.C. Ryle, let me just add, “Mom, you were right. I do understand.”

If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other men. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory at the end,—all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that. By affliction He teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn. By affliction He shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from the world, makes us long for heaven. In the resurrection morning we shall all say, "it is good for me that I was afflicted." We shall thank God for every storm.

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