Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Joy in Pain

One of the verses my daughter is memorizing right now is Phil. 2:14, "Do everything without arguing or complaining."  As usual, these verses convict me more than I think they even impact her.  I'm not a big arguer, and I'll pass on the whining, thanks.  Leaves a sour taste in my mouth.  But, unfortunately, I'll take a rather large helping of complaining, peppered with a tablespoon of anger.  I might feel that my sense of justice validates my complaints; after all, "such and such" is so unfair. 

I've had some frustrations this week, and a few set-backs to my schedule, but they've just been little bumps in the road.  Couldn't even call them potholes--not compared to what life can serve up.

And yet, I let these little perturbances dampen my joy.  I so crave the elusive control over my life, that my "inflexible" spirit becomes anxious and angry when life just doesn't ride smooth.

And yet, this morning, as I dropped my kids off at their grandparent's house, I was convicted of my attitude.  My dad made his way to the foyer and greeted his granddaughter with a big smile.  He held his hand up and teased, "Give me five, God's alive!"  She gladly joined in and he added, "Give me ten. He's comin' again."  

Now that may not seem so extraordinary.  After all, most granddad's are fun-loving and jovial, especially around their grands.  But what you may not know is my dad is fighting cancer right now.  Pain is a constant companion, and migraines still plague him.  Last night he got a meager three hours of sleep (above average actually).   How he even has the energy to make it downstairs for breakfast every day amazes me.  

And yet, he was walking the circle in their house, humming and praising God.  And I think, what a beautiful representation of praise.  

Hebrews 13:15 comes to mind. "Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name." 

Does he always feel like praising God?  No, I'm sure the physical often overwhelms the spiritual in his body.  But he is choosing, because He knows the truth that God is good and God is loving--even when he doesn't feel it--to acknowledge who God is and joyfully proclaim His name. 

That's what I saw this morning, a joyful proclamation in the face of pain. It was stunning really and made me want to dance.  

Do I hate what he is going through?  Yes, more than I've hated anything in a long time. 
And yet, I see how my dad can hold onto joy, hold onto the future hope, hold onto "his grace is sufficient" and I want to slough off all other complaints and skewed perspectives and reach for Him.   

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

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