“Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
It is those words of Jesus in John 9 that I heard from the voice of a woman who’s experienced some serious pain in her life that had me immediately in tears.
God, I don’t want this pain. But I know it is for your glory.
a bad dream.
I had a dream recently – some may call it a nightmare – in which I was being arrested for a crime I didn’t commit. The whole world was apparently looking for me. I was surrounded. Stuck. My future unclear, seemingly doomed. My parents were immediately on a flight from Texas, someone told me. Yet I knew they wouldn’t be able to help.
I was afraid and alone.
I’ve suffered from chronic back pain for the last twelve years – for over one third of my entire life. I almost can’t remember what it was like to live pain free, to not wonder when the next time I would feel that pain would be. I almost can’t remember what it feels like to be free from that burden, that weight that I carry with me daily.
Over the years I have felt much like I did in that dream – surrounded, stuck, alone and afraid. There have been seasons of hope – of a new doctor with a new idea and a new approach, and there have been seasons of despair – of a seeming dead end to this long and arduous journey to try to find healing.
the unfinished journey to healing.
Last summer I created a short film with some friends of mine from Texas. It’s about a homeless woman whose hands are bleeding on her own journey to find healing. I liken her chronic bleeding hands to that of a universal sense of pain – our sin, our trials, our suffering, our despair, our difficulties, our illnesses, our ailments. The list goes on.
I won’t spoil the ending; I’ll let you watch for yourself. (It’s only 12 minutes.) But I will say there’s a lot of my own experience in the metaphors in this film.
While I may still be on my own journey to healing, call me a fool but I still hope for it. “Complete healing” is what I used to pray for – sometimes it was my husband praying that for me while hot tears ran down my cheeks. And complete healing is what I will continue to pray.
But whether God chooses to heal me or not, I know that He is good. Whether He chooses to answer my prayer – our prayer (I tell you having a husband to walk alongside on this journey has been God’s goodness and grace to me) – I know that He is good. And even on my worst day, I know that He is good. For I know there is a place He has prepared for me where there are no more tears and crying, no more pain and suffering (Revelation 21:4).
for His glory.
My sweet friend, Colleen, wrote an incredible post called “The Gift of Illness.” It is such a beatiful love note to God from a humble and grateful heart in the midst of suffering. It is the character of Paul thousands of years ago in New Testament writings shining through the blog post of a faithful woman today.
She’s been a constant encourager and role model to me in multiple facets of life that always points me not to herself but to Jesus. Oh, that my life would do the same for others.
Shortly before I woke up from that dream, a woman approached me in the midst of crowds and chaos and asked, “Can you believe this is happening to you?” And I calmly – oddly calmly – responded to her with a grace and poise uncharacteristic of my waking self, “I don’t know why this is happening. But no matter what does, God gets the glory.”
I said it in a manner almost excited – like the worse the outcome, the more of a light I could be in the darkness of it all, and the more people would come to know the hope and truth of the name of Jesus Christ not despite but because of my trial.
. . .
You may watch the video that inspired this post here.
You may read The Gift of Illness by Collen Chao here.
And you may watch our film, Riva, here.
. . .
To God be the glory – not because of who I am, but because of what He’s done; not because of what I’ve done, but because of who He is. (Casting Crowns: Who Am I)