“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Numbing the Pain

It started the day after Anthony left for Ethiopia.  Back pain.  Searing back pain.  The culprit?  My sciatic nerve.  The remedy?  Ibuprofen and ice.  Back pain gone. 

Next day.  Back pain.  Apply ibuprofen and ice.  Back pain continues.  Apply ibuprofen and ice, again.  Back pain not gone.

The diagnosis?  I had been treating the symptom instead of the problem. Turns out I had a couple of tight muscles that were pinching the sciatic nerve.  A couple visits to the chiropractor and some daily stretching and the pain is gone.

That's the way it is sometimes.  We feel pain.  Try to numb the pain.  Pain goes away... but the next time the pain numbing doesn't work... and we wonder why.  Especially because it worked the first time we tried it.  And that's okay.  Sometimes we need to treat the symptom... relieve the pain... until we can get to the root of the problem.

But sometimes we get stuck... numbing the pain... numbing the pain... and we wonder why it doesn't get better.  We are in a difficult marriage... so we try harder... and it helps for a while.  We have difficulty forgiving others... so we try harder... and we read a book... and it helps for a while.  We are fighting insecurity... and we try harder... and we read a book... and talk to our friends... and it helps for a while. 

But the pain is not going away.  And we think perhaps... we need to give up... on the marriage... or on forgiving others... or becoming secure.  Because nothing seems to be working to fix it.  To ease the pain.

And my question to you today is... are you treating the symptom?  Have you been treating the symptom?  Have you been so diligent trying to fix your marriage or forgive others or become secure that you have missed what is truly causing the pain? 

I have often prayed for marriages that are on the brink of divorce.  But I no longer do.  I don't pray for the marriage.  I don't pray for God to heal the marriage.  I don't.  I pray for the individuals in the marriage.  And I don't pray that they would just want to be married, again.  And I don't pray that they would stay together.  I don't.  I pray that each individual in the marriage would be drawn into a closer relationship with the Lord... and if they don't even know the Lord Jesus... well, that they would.  I pray for a deeper, stronger walk with the Lord.  I pray they would come to know the Lord at such a level... that they would have no other option or desire but to love their spouse as God loves their spouse.

I no longer pray that someone would just become more secure... or find a spouse... or feel affirmation... or have their child do better at school.  I just don't.  I don't want you to just find relief from your symptoms.  I want you to get to the root of the problem, so those symptoms will not keep reappearing.  I am praying for the deeper work.

What I will pray... is for God to show His faithfulness to you... and that He brings complete healing... and that He protects you as you go through the process.  Look, that pain is there for a reason.  We can keep trying to numb it... but the whole point of the pain is to point out that something is wrong. 

And I thank God that He grants us the ability to try harder... and to read books... and to talk to friends... to ease the immediate pain, but I think He allows that for a time... until the pain shows up, again.  He wants us to deal with the problem... not settle for lessening the symptoms.

So, my question to you today is... are you ready to get to the root of the problem?  Because I want you to know... I am praying for you.


Deborah said...

I really like this. I listened to Jon Acuff speak yesterday and he said something similar...we look for a solution instead of a savior. I counseled a young girl this weekend and her questions began with "how can I make my husband...." my advice was to not worry about her husband doing what she wanted but to make sure that she was right with God and her doing what He wanted and to leave her husband in God's hands.

Hope you are feeling better.

Anna Thomas Briggs said...

Sheri, I love this post because this is precisely what we are learning about in the Wounded by Shame, Healed by Grace series on Sunday mornings at 11am at PCC . We are learning to identify the reasons we stay in the cycle of "stuck...numb." Next week we will hear about looking full on the outside while being empty on the inside. We stay stuck when we try to cover our shame with performance or trying harder. Thanks for your post.


Anonymous said...

..I really appreciate this article. I appreciate your directness and calling us out on it. I personally have walked through pain at many levels...and for me it manifests itself in a headache. I know it is just the beginning, when they come. I rest knowing my Lord is the healer to my ailments, but when a headache creep in...and then attacks with vengence I find I go to my room and pray. The Lord reveals to me the source and I share with Him what I am feeling. I personally recognize today, that I need to "let go" of the source or the root of this pain...It must be a daily habit. I do agree with you in this Sheri, that certain things only work for a short while. But the Lords love and forgiveness lasts Forever. Hope you know that you are delight to all that know and love you!!

rooney said...

thank you Sheri. loved this post. it's one i am pressing in and the passing on.

Amy said...

I love this post...it is so true. The pain is God's gift to us...to reveal the problem...and draw us to Him!

bp said...

"the whole point of the pain is to point out that something is wrong." I like this. Also, you are right, He doesn't want us to "just settle" for a cover up for the pain. Great thoughts here. You have such a gift and I praise God for you.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Complete healing... that's what I want as well. Funny how I think I've made some progress in an area only to have it creep up again, reminding me that I'm not yet where I want to be.

This is a very thought-provoking post, Sheri. Great truth in eloquent prose. I don't want to numb the pain; I want total healing from God so that years from now, I won't have to re-visit some of my issues!

Blessed peace and rest to you this weekend~elaine