To be useful in affliction...














The chronic pain of RAD, with it's unpredictable tidal waves of intensity, has opened my eyes to the deceptive power of addiction - and for that I am grateful. It's all too easy to condemn what I do not understand or cannot see.

God has graced me with a cheerful disposition; I was shocked when my doctor once asked if I was depressed. Chronic pain does that to you, you know, she added, and I had to admit that she was right. Not that I was clinically or chronically depressed, but that there have been moments when unrelenting pain wears down my resolve and dark clouds circle overhead. I begin adding up the lifestyle changes I've been forced to accept, the ways my disability has affected my relationships with those I love, and a way out begins to look attractive. Consequences are overshadowed by the promise of relief. Only  the sovereign grace of God, the will to persevere, to lean into Christ and push through pain, keeps me from falling into a trap where the grasp of addiction would be beyond my physical or emotional strength to escape.

So I throw no stones. No. Stones. I understand your pain. Take my hand and we'll hold onto Christ, for though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

I was grieved for my friend, a young mother and sister in Christ, when she messaged me last week to say she's been diagnosed with RAD, but she was relieved to know that someone understands what she is going through and encouraged that I will walk through this with her. To know that my suffering is useful - that though I'm not able to do what I've done in the past - there is a purpose that brings me joy.

I thought of this yesterday as I read Piper's No Blessing Like Health — With the Exception of Sickness. Piper identifies suffering as something that in God's sovereignty pastors must endure to be useful to their people, but I believe it's true for each of us - and to be useful in my affliction is grace. It brings joy and cheerfulness that strengthens my resolve and keeps those dark clouds away.  

{Photos: this week from my swing under the sweetgum trees in my Pollywog Creek backyard}