Waiting Through the Pain (December 25, 2016)

Dear Friends,

I am so sorry you haven’t heard from me in such a long time.  I have been in the middle of a flare-up for a couple of months, and it is painful and draining.  I have tried to sit and write, and my writing goes nowhere.  With all that has been going on in this world, you would think that certainly God would give me something to say, but nothing has come through my mind or my fingers.  In this season of anticipation, I am honestly waiting.

I am not waiting to feel better; I know it will come in its own good time.  I am waiting for the pain to pass.  It will happen, but not on my schedule.  It is difficult to endure at times, but I am comforted to know that I am not the only one who has gone through struggles with pain.  Paul wrote of a thorn in his flesh  “to keep me from being too elated.”  2 Corinthians 12:7  The psalmists wrote often of pain.  “But I am lowly and in pain; let your salvation, O God, protect me.”  Psalm 69:29  “For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever with me.”  Psalm 38:17

The problem with pain is that it distracts us from so many things, including God.  It weakens us physically as well as mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  One drags through the day,     sometimes with grand ambitions of what will be accomplished, sometimes with the hope of just getting the bare minimum accomplished – getting bathed and dressed and the animals fed.  I am so grateful that I have a loving, understanding husband, although I often fear that he must be so tired of coming home to yet another day of nothing accomplished.  I am also grateful that it is Christmas break, and I have secured the services of a high school friend, who can look at a room and see what needs to be done without my telling her.  Thanks to her my family’s Christmas presents were wrapped and boxed and mailed last Monday, and my office filing was taken care of.  While I was trying to figure out what to do next, she cleaned out the magazines on my end table.  I am blessed.

I used to be able to do two things a day; on an exceptional day I could handle three.  Now I’m lucky if I can do one, and I am grateful for those times.  Volunteering with the children at school gives me a sense of purpose and worth.  Attending Bible Study keeps me connected to the Lord and other Christians.   Going to the gym with my husband, if only to use the hydromassage, helps me get out of my house.  Participating in the Christmas Pageant (although I had to hide the script in my Bible and read all of my lines – my short-term memory is shot) gave me a chance to forge connections with our youth and celebrate Christmas in a new way.

Today is Christmas.  I still haven’t sent out the Christmas cards.  They may be Epiphany cards this year.  But we celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in church.  We brought requested food to the St. Vincent de Paul kitchen.  (Did you know there was a whipped cream shortage?  Apparently a nitrous oxide factory exploded and since it is a propellant and a preservative in canned whipped cream, it has caused a nationwide shortage, but we were able to find plenty at our Costco.)  We’ve renewed our homeless bag ministry since our city closed the campground where those without housing were allowed to sleep overnight.  There are lots of cold people on the street now.  The local market cooked our meal, and it is excellent.  And there is plenty for anyone who might stop by.

On this night when we remember and give thanks for the gift of the Christ Child, I wish you all  a blessed holy day, full of joy and gratitude.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to write to you again, but please know you are in my thoughts and prayers every day.

Dear Lord, I thank you first for the gift of your Son.  By coming to earth as one of us you demonstrated the depth of your love for us.  Thank you for the gift of Scripture, which can guide us and inspire us, comfort us and instruct us.  Thank you for the saints who have gone before us, and for those who live among us now.  Their love and their lives encourage us when we weary or our path is unclear.  And thank you for the promise of the resurrection, of knowing that we will always be with you.  Because of Jesus there is hope, and the world has never been the same.  Amen.