I have had a constant headache since last October. No medication prescribed has helped and recently the pain has gotten worse. Last week I was just trying to compose a brief email and it was a struggle to even make it grammatically correct. I wasn’t able to have deep conversations with anybody or pour into people’s lives like I am so used to doing on a daily basis. I spent the better part of the week trying to rest, with very little relief. It has been extremely difficult to connect with God in any meaningful way. I can’t read for very long and it’s been hard to really analyze or think about things deeply. If I couldn’t connect with a human in a deep way and think clearly I thought, how ever could I talk to a God who isn’t physically present?
In my pain and exhaustion, I doubted God’s faithfulness. I felt I was too weak to pursue God and experience his love and peace, so I busied myself with tv shows and movies and catchy music to distract myself from the pain. Logically, I knew my train of thought wasn’t biblically true. Paul and all of the great apostles and saints before my time faced incredible physical hardship, unparalleled probably to what I will ever experience. Yet, they were zealous for God and did great things for his kingdom. In their pain, they wrote the Word of God that has transformed the lives of millions.
Despite my doubts, I have seen God pursue me like crazy in the past couple days. For the first time in weeks, on Saturday I was able to pray in a sustained and deep way. I experienced a joy that I hadn’t had in a long time. My pain was still there, and even now I do not think it has lessened much. On Sunday after I finished working, I felt a strong pull from God to pray again. It was around 6ish when I was free. After a long day like that one, it’s usually hard to do anything constructive at that time of day, especially engage with God. However, I felt different. I laid on my bed and just started talking to God. It felt effortless. I started praising him and was overwhelmed by the fact I get to have a relationship with the God of the universe and will one day spend eternity with him in the flesh. The pain in my head was in the background, but I felt God’s energy radiating through me and felt refreshed. For the first time since maybe when I first accepted Christ into my heart, I felt childlike before him. I understood how weak I was and knew that I didn’t have much strength. I experienced the Father as the parental figure he is designed to be and rested in his arms. I didn’t want to be anywhere or with anybody other than Him.
I now have great assurance in God’s promise that “if we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13). It is out of God’s character to not pursue our hearts. He wants us to be joyful and experience deep fellowship with him. I more fully believe that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-39).
Today my pain is probably around the same, but I feel more joy than I have had this year, and maybe since I can remember. My circumstances have not changed. But God has drawn ever so near. God has reminded that I was designed to be in a relationship with Him. And the closer I walk with him, the more joy I will have. The amazing thing though is that being close to Jesus doesn’t require my physical or mental exertion. I am learning that God pursues us in our weakness, even when we don’t have the energy. God will draw near even if he doesn’t take the thorn away.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:9-10)
Yes, I believe this wholeheartedly and will proclaim what God has done for me till my time on earth is done.
Christianity isn’t about religion and a bunch of commands to follow, it’s about a loving relationship. We get to be friends with the Savior of the world and that is the greatest gift we could ever receive (John 15:15). It is a life of joy, even through trials. That is why I will share Christ’s beautiful redemptive story for all my days, no matter the cost.