Saturday, October 29, 2016

When You Feel Like a Target for His Arrows




My frozen shoulder is clamping down even more I think. It seems to be losing more range of motion each day. I had freed my day yesterday to kayak... but decided that would be foolish given the pain in my shoulder and arm. Instead, I wrote 3,000 words in my new book, and painted a watercolor painting for my massage therapist, Miracula.

I haven't done a watercolor painting in a long time. I wasn't even sure I still could. I told myself I would just do a little bit, maybe the very bottom corner of the painting. Well, one thing led to another, and I couldn't stop. I finished all but some tiny, final details.

And it may be the best watercolor I have ever painted. Thank you Lord for giving me the ability to paint, and thank you that my dominant hand is not the side of the frozen shoulder.

I can't show you the painting since I still have to do a few minutes of final details. It was based on the painting in this blog. Miracula loved that painting, and I offered it to her out of my deep gratitude to her for the massage treatments. She knew I didn't really want to part with it. So she told me paint it again. She would take the remake of the original. The new painting is clearly based on this one, but is still unique and has a different flavor. I hope she loves it because she is helping me alot with the massage therapy.

She didn't help me in hopes of getting a painting. She never asked for anything in return. She just knew I was in pain, and wanted to help me feel better. I cannot begin to express how precious and special she is. The painting is nothing compared to what she is offering to me.

As my shoulder grows increasingly limited in range and in pain, I feel more and more sorry for myself. Anyone who has lived with chronic pain knows how difficult it is day after day. It wears down all reserves. Imagine my response to Lamentations 3 in my daily Bible reading yesterday. Here is a snippet:

I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long. He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; he has broken my bones; (v. 1-4.)

 Remember, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March and since then have had two operations, 3 blood clots, six weeks of daily radiation, 3 bouts of strange rashes, cellulitis, and then a broken rib just under the reconstructed breast. Now I have a frozen shoulder. You can imagine how I related to the author of Lamentations 3. (The author by the way is Jeremiah- inspired by God. Jeremiah is also known as the weeping prophet.)

 I can understand the despair that drove Jeremiah to cry out in verse 12: He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows. 

It could be worse. It can always be worse, but in my weaker moments, that is my cry. Why have you drawn your bow and targeted me?

I continued reading Jeremiah's mournful lament. Listen to verse 18: So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.” 

This is a faithful servant of God who has done all God asked of him. And yet, his whole world has collapsed. He is at the bottom of the barrel, and there is no sustenance, no escape. Thus, it is a bit jarring to read the following snippet just 3 verses later:

 21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. 

Nothing changed in Jeremiah's situation. However, there is a change in one preposition that I think is key. In verse 18, Jeremiah is bereft because all he had hoped FROM the Lord has not materialized. In verse 25, his hope is IN the Lord. With this simple shift not in what God might do, but in who God IS, Jeremiah finds the strength to hold on and wait and hope again.

 Just in these few verses, Jeremiah reminds us who God is. God is love, God is compassion, God is faithful, God is good, and His mercies are renewed each morning. God will be found by those who seek Him, and His eternal salvation will be the reward.

 I think I can muster on another day with this thought tucked in my heart.
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