I have been blessed by an incredible friend who is giving me therapeutic massage for my frozen shoulder. Much of what she does is just miraculous in my opinion, and so much of it reminds me of how God works.
For example, I have LOTS of painful "trigger points" in my body. I am not sure of the official definition of a trigger point, but in me, they are the places that HURT A LOT. The pain in those trigger points are what are impeding my ability to move my arm and other body parts without intense pain. So Miracula, my therapist, kneads her fingers with as much pressure as I can tolerate on the trigger point. Just at the moment I am about to shout, "STOP!!! That hurts too much!", the muscle 'releases' the tension it has been unnaturally maintaining, and the pain stops.
The trick is, I must be willing to go to the edge of pain in order to be healed.
Well, isn't that so often how God works? No one grows in character or strength if life is always easy and pain-free. The only way any of us test our faith and our courage is through difficult situations. Courage is not required if there is not a fearful task before us. Strength is not required if weakness would suffice. Faith is never called upon if we never face a situation we are certain we cannot overcome on our own power. We must go to the point of crying out, "Stop!!! That hurts too much!" before we know what we can bear...and witness what God can do.
That is the point at which God releases His courage, His strength, His Power. If we trust Him enough to take us to that point, and then watch what He can accomplish, our faith will grow, and our spirit will be healed. We are released into the reality and infinite goodness of His presence. Really. If my suffering has taught me anything, it has taught me this. Unless God stretches you beyond your own resources, you will not need Him or appreciate Him fully.
This is the beauty of suffering. It brings you to places you would never otherwise experience. Those places, close to the heart of God, are worth it.
I awoke this morning after so much wonderful massage and physiotherapy, only to find myself really stiff with my shoulder range at least 20 degrees WORSE. I don't know what prompted me, but I started a slow dance of my arms, modifying an exercise the PT had shown me. Slowly, miraculously, in the graceful (?) arcs of my arms, my whole body began to relax, the arcs became wider and higher, and soon, my frozen shoulder was moving pain-free with more range of motion than I have seen in months. I would not have believed it if I hadn't been there.
SPECIAL PRO-LIFE ANNOUNCEMENT:
We are on our way to our hope for an unborn baby Christmas Chorus. So far, I have two fetal monitors, and one amplifier. I need about 3 or 4 more of each. Just to borrow. We intend to line pregnant mamas up at the abortion center, and let their babies heart-beats shout out over the amplifiers: "We are here! We are alive! We are made like you in God's image!" My plan is to then have a choir of faithful Christians sing Christmas carols with the heartbeats as our drums.
Can you imagine the reaction of those entering that dark place to take the lives of their own babies?
Who can help?
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. ...