I have been in excruciating pain the last 2 days. There were times when the only thing I could do was to say His Name over and over - and I believe in the power of that Name.
The pain has finally left me - with the knowledge that it will come again. Someday. Prayerfully, not soon.
There is something about physical pain that is exhausting. It finally left me about 1 am - I fell on my bed so exhausted. I could do nothing more than turn out the light - and awoke 3 hours later to find I was on top of the bedcovers, not underneath them. I had thought to only rest for a bit before actually getting into sleeping position.
And yet, if given the choice, I would gladly choose the physical over the mental.
I have dear friends who suffer from the mental part. One has bi-polar disease, and is often tempted by the lie of sweet oblivion with suicide - but His ownership of her body and life prevent that false solution. Another friend battled for years to surface after a lifetime of verbal and physical abuse - the verbal from both of her parents, the combined ferocity of both from her husband. Another is fraught with an uneasy feeling as fall approaches, as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) causes her to struggle through the depths of winter. She once descibed it as wearing a sack over your head. You know it's there; other people tell you it's there; but there is nothing you can do about it.
And another friend who recently found he could fight the sack no longer, and he ended it himself. The crush of guilt and sadness he left behind for those who loved him is an unimagineable horror.
I have seen their suffering, doubts, pain and sadness up close and personal. They come often to my prayers - and I rejoice to see their victories when they come. But I'll take my physical extremities any day - and thank God He has not called me to mental anguish.
God has had me "stumble onto" a life-changing book recently. It is called "Sitting at the feet of Rabbi Jesus" by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, both gentile. They have studied the background of first century Judaism and place the words of Jesus in that setting - and a light turns on.
I have a great love for the Jewish people. Having been blessed with a trip to Israel, it changed my life in a big way. This book does the same.
To the observant Jew, God is everywhere. Every moment of the day, from awakening to eating to working to sleeping has a blessing attached to it. It makes Paul's admonition to pray without ceasing an interesting thought. He may have been referring to this practice.
Seemingly a plethora of memorized prayers recited rote, it is nothing at all like that. The prayers are memorized because they have seen and heard both mama and papa saying them from the time they can first remember. But they are also taught that saying the blessings without being aware of Whom you are praying to is worse than useless; it is insult.
Each prayer begins with a reminder of Who He is: "Baruch atah Adonai Eluheneu Melech ha'olam.." Blessed Art Thou, Lord God, King of the Universe... and they continue with something like "Who has caused grain to be grown on the Earth" to celebrate having food on their table. The day begins with thanking the Creator for keeping their soul in their body for one more day, and continues with every opportunity.
I fear sometimes that Christianity has made us less aware of the Whom when we pray - the amazing privilege of praying to Someone Who bids us call Him "Papa" is sometimes, I fear, taken as license rather than privilege. I pray I am never doing that.
I am trying to incorporate some of those blessings of every second into my life. Certainly the relief of pain is high on my list - but so is waking up one more day on earth, having a roof over my head, even having flannel sheets as the weather cools is a blessing I don't take lightly.
I hunger for more of Him. I have since the day He first blasted His way into my life. The difference between "before" and "after" in my life was immediately evident. I asked Him then to take me into the depths with Him, a prayer He is continually answering - not thru any holiness on my part - far from it - but through His willingness to answer prayers. And still the hunger for more remains. I expect that hunger will not cease until we are face-to-face with a Being so Immense and Powerful that He created an untold number of galaxies and star factories and planets - and then stooped to Earth to tenderly Hand-create mankind from the dust of the very earth He had created. We have no idea Whom we are dealing with. The "Jesus meek and mild" doesn't exist. He is a Powerful, Omniscient God Who clothed Himself with the dust of the Earth so we could understand what Love is - so we would have a familiar Face, so to speak, on which to base our knowledge of the Father. But Who He is, like the place He has prepared for us, is so far beyond whatever we could think or imagine, is beyond out abilitlies to discern.
And so our Heavenly Papa sent His Son, to help us grasp that Love focuses on the Beloved. Everything Jesus said and did was to show us what Love really is - how much our Papa loves us, how much Love costs, how much we have to learn about Loving. To sit at the feet of the rabbi Yeshua is a privilege granted to each of us that bear His Name - and, speaking for myself, how rarely I do it. My prayers seem too full of requests and too little of thanksgiving. And when I consciously spend time in thanksgiving, as soon as I start there come crowding into my mind those who need prayer - and so the time, inch by inch, is swallowed in petition.
If you, too, are struggling with this, with this hunger that slips from your fingers when you try to cultivate it, join me in emulating the observant Jew and his acknowledgement of his Creator in everything he does. Begin your day with thanksgiving - and seek every opportunity to thank Him for your cup of tea, your favorite pet, your earthly beloved.
Blessed art Thou, Lord God, King of the Universe, Who has given to man the secret of technology and computers, to allow us to praise You and to bring us knowledge and delight. Bless each one who stumbles on this blog today and draw them closer to You.