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.