Written July 10, 2010.
Anxiety has its use, stimulating us to seek with keener longing for that peace which is complete and unassailable. – Saint Augustine of Hippo
Anxiety, worry, nervous, uneasiness. Use whichever word you want but those of us with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain illnesses could write a book on it. We feel that we have to think and rethink every decision we make. Making the wrong decision could result in more pain for our already pain riddled bodies. When Paul was writing the Philippians, in verses 4: 6-7 he told them
"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
We should believe and live our lives according to these verses but so many of us, me included, find it so hard to do at times. The desire for relief from pain overwhelms our ability to think rationally. Job who shared our pain, allowed his desire to understand why he was suffering to make him question God. Through Job’s life, we learn that knowing God is better than knowing answers, God is not arbitrary or uncaring and pain is not always punishment. I’ve been guilty many times of asking why. Why has God allowed me to be in so much pain that I can no longer work? What did I do? What sin did I commit? The answer I always hear is "Have Faith." So I struggle on, trying to remember that God is here beside me, catching me when I fall. Is it easy? No. Is the reward worth it? Absolutely! God has never failed me and I continue to believe that he has a plan for my life. I try to be patient and wait for Him to show me what he would have me do.
Job shared our physical pain. In Job 7, he talks to God about his pain.
"Human life is a struggle, isn't it? It's a life sentence to hard labor. Like field hands longing for quitting time and working stiffs with nothing to hope for but payday, I'm given a life that meanders and goes nowhere — months of aimlessness, nights of misery! I go to bed and think, 'How long till I can get up? I toss and turn as the night drags on and I'm fed up! My days come and go swifter than the click of knitting needles, and then the yarn runs out—an unfinished life!"
Sounding familiar? Read a little more.
"And so I'm not keeping one bit of this quiet, I'm laying it all out on the table my complaining to high heaven is bitter, but honest. Are you going to put a muzzle on me, the way you quiet the sea and still the storm? If I say, 'I'm going to bed, then I'll feel better. A little nap will lift my spirits, You come and so scare me with nightmares and frighten me with ghosts that I'd rather strangle in the bedclothes than face this kind of life any longer. I hate this life! Who needs any more of this? Let me alone! There's nothing to my life — it's nothing but smoke." (The Message)
Life truly is a struggle, isn't it? How much of a struggle depends on our response. Do we turn to God first and then our family and friends to help us or do we go it alone? If we are really honest with ourselves, most of us would probably admit that we are more likely to go it alone first. After all, we've heard all our life that God helps those who help themselves. That saying is not from the Bible but comes to us by way of Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard's Almanac, 1736). Mr. Franklin was a deist and so he believed that God did not play an active role in men's lives. In his point of view if man was not able to help himself, then man was hopeless. That is simply not true. God does not find us hopeless. He loves us and is waiting to help us out of our feelings of hopelessness. Turning to God first is the best solution for any and all struggles we face. God may not take away our pain and suffering but He will be there with us, to comfort us, to love us and to guide us.
Philippians is one of my favorite books in the Bible. I gather so much strength from Paul’s encouraging words. I encourage you to read Philippians and especially chapter 4. I sometimes feel that I am a prisoner in my own body. Paul was a very real prisoner in a very real Roman prison when he wrote
"I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."
God showed Paul how to be content under the circumstances he was in. I believe that God will also help us to be content in our circumstances, if we will let Him. Allowing God to be in control of our lives will bring us hope, love, joy and contentment. Let go of your anxiety and turn it over to God. He's waiting for you to let Him in.
May the peace of our Lord be with you today and always.