Psalm 69: 26-31 29 But as for me, afflicted and in pain – may your salvation, God, protect me. 30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please theLordmore than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
When we are ill or in pain it’s difficult to think of anyone other than yourself. The automatic reaction is to feel sorry for yourself and to let everyone know how much discomfort you’re in. If it’s something you’ve been dealing with for a long time then it can be especially difficult.
I recently realised that in the last sixteen years I’ve been on crutches nine times. I’ve also broken my wrist and collapsed a lung; then there’s the numerous twists, sprains and broken fingers that weren’t even worthy of a visit and a six hour wait in A&E. I’m used to pain. I have developed a pretty high threshold to it. However, being a relatively 'young' Christian, one thing I’m not used to, is the added dimension of being a Christian and being in pain.
It’s easy to be full of self pity and to focus on ‘me’ all the time. But we’re called to: ‘18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18) When people think that being a Christian is easy, they certainly don’t take this bit of advice into account!
It’s certainly easier to say these things than to put them into practice. There is only one train of thought that helps me re-focus when I descend into self-pity; and that is that Jesus suffered through more than I can ever imagine, and He did it willingly. Isaiah 53: 3-5 says: 3‘He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.’
Jesus suffered and died in my place despite the fact He had lived a completely perfect life. What on earth have I got to feel self-pityingly about!?
The fact that when we go through tough times Jesus is right there with us should be such a joyful thought that it can lead to spontaneous worship and thanksgiving just as Psalm 69 above suggests. The chorus of ‘Cornerstone’ by Hillsong really sums it up for me.
‘Christ alone, Cornerstone, Weak made strong in the Saviours love, Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all’.
Even through the toughest of times Jesus is Lord and He is with us. Definitely something to remember next time I'm complaining about man-flu!
Michael is a 'Forgee' and is on the Student team at St Michael le Belfrey. He has spent the past two years working for Riding Lights Theatre Company!