I've been looking through old retreat materials for the suffering teaching I'll be starting next week, and found some of my journal entries from the first few months that I lived in 24-7 pain. If anyone had told me then that six years later I'd still have this kind of pain, I'm sure it would have destroyed me. But thankfully, we only have to live each day at a time, each moment as it comes. When I think about it objectively, I think the nerve fires on the left side of my body are every bit as bad as they were in those early days, but I've grown used to these neuropathies as a constant, if somewhat truculent, companion. They annoy me, sometimes to a distracting degree, and certainly my life is reduced because of them, but...I'm still here, still living by faith, still hopeful and joyful and...still being used exactly as I am.
Well, here's an entry from the beginning:
May 19, 2003
I will say this: if this pain is a ploy of Satan's to see what I'm made of, or how far I will last before folding, I admit defeat. I failed before it started. I am made of flesh and blood and dust and earth. I fold. I cannot bear another instant of discomfort alone.
However, God wins. HE WINS!!! Before another moment passes, God has already won. I abdicated a long time ago and I surrender again right now. If I can bear nothing, He can, and has, borne everything: Satan is defeated--in my body as well as in my soul. I've been bought with a price, sealed in His blood. He lives in me and He can handle this pain. The evil one might as well pack in His tortures and slither back to the hole he crawled out of.
I believe that not only will this backfire on Satan, but that God will use my broken, hurting body for His glory. That's what He's about. I don't know how but I trust Him. That's the treasure in the jar of clay from 2 Corinthians 4--to be used for His purpose exactly as I am today. And I'm thrilled by that prospect.
Am I crazy, presumptuous, irrational to assume God will use for His Kingdom-come glory a pain-riddled recluse who can barely leave the house? But that is exactly how otherworldly, how counter-worldly, I should say, God is.
"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the lowly things of the world to shame the strong." 1 Corinthians 1:27