"Pain is God's megaphone."
C. S. Lewis
Its lovely, luscious look was expected. Its frothy cream topping anticipated. So silky, so covered with toasty pecans. So bound by its beautiful, baked crust of white flour and real butter, elevated to rapturous delight by a dash of sweet and a heaping of more nuts.
Two fillings in said dish lured one to place hand on the convenient spoon, scoop, and heap onto one's plate, making scarcely sure not to cross the line of self-reproach. One filling held soft cream cheese, fresh whipped cream, and my delight, confectioner's sugar.
And the other filling. My dreamed-of confection. My irresistible beloved. My epicurean addiction shared with my dear late father, who so too loved its taste. My material nightmare!
Contained in the layer just above a divine crust was a silky, creamy dessert all its own. One that turned said dish from a delightful creation of comfort to a heavenly chocolate concoction. And the glassy, dark filling was too much for resistance.
I beheld. I desired. I succumbed. I rebelled. I resisted wise words spoken only days before.
"Its most likely chocolate," his kind voice almost dreaded the bidding. We had thoroughly discussed. He had questioned. I willingly, yet timidly complied. He thought. Examined. Thought. And gave his professional, always faithful, medical opinion.
"You may just have to give it up. It's probably the source of your migraines. Chocolate can even cause headaches days after you eat it, so you might want to stay away from it and see if they go away."
"OK." I obliged. With much respect. Much grief. And much internal conflict.
Chocolate has been my known adversary for quite some time. I have ignored its stings and arrows for its rich flavor and momentary bliss for years. I have passed opportunity for greater health for the seemingly sinful pleasure of sweet, dark, "fruit" that slowly softens in my mouth.
Insomnia, palpitations, irritability, misery have most often followed my yielding. The migraines now seem God's great megaphone shouting, "Do NOT eat! Do NOT touch!"
Yet, even after my dear doctor's emphatic words, my historical symptomatic responses, and what concerned me as providential Voice, I was still complicit with my enemy, when, on Sunday, we had a beautiful meal after church, and I was, at the end of the serving line, met by forbidden fruit.
I ate with guilt. I left with guilt. I dealt with guilt. Denied reality. Said to self, "It may not be chocolate causing your headaches, Andrea. It's only a chance. Probably just a coincidence. They'll most likely just go away."
And at 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning my hard head was throbbing, begging my stillness and room's darkness. Most concerned, my dear husband made his way to our little cottage kitchen and brought me cola in a clear glass and medicine in his gentle hand. I thanked him for such lovingkindness that is his dear way, and slooowly lay down and oh, so carefully turned on my side, hoping to sleep and awake relieved.
On arising, I realized improvement and thanked my Jeff once again. Then, when all was quiet, alone with God, faced my stubborn denial and thanked God for his patient grace that loves me so completely and understands my frame. Who waits with His wisdom to shape my life to His desired form. Who has this day given fresh truth and new desire. A soul determination to hear God's voice, to listen, to apply His word! To e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g!
God knows our downsitting, our uprising, our distant thoughts, our hearts, our lungs, our ears, our heads, our hands, our bellies, our emotions, our hurts, our ills, our stubborn ways, our failures, our successes, our slippery dreams. Even knows our whys and hows!
He made our genetic code! Yes, your double helix was put together with meticulous thought and care by the Master Designer Himself. And dear friend, God chose to make us all with imperfections and weaknesses.
Does that seem strange to you? Such a wonderful, loving, perfect Heavenly Father creating his vessels with flaws, with shortcomings, with compromising qualities, with weak fragments, with questionable strengths, with damaging desires, with eyes that need lens, with ears that need aids, with bodies that grow tired, with minds that forget, and wills that faint?
What appears odd to me or you was perfect sense to the Apostle Paul. The mightiest warrior for Christ suffered agony. He was persecuted. Experienced hunger, pain, frailty, affliction, confusion, prison, beatings. All for Christ. And his great, faithful walk with God brought many heavenly visions. Unspeakable spiritual revelations.
Then, God permitted an unnamed "thorn" to torment him. It was a fleshly battle. Painful. The Greek word Paul uses to describe the experience means "to rap with the fist." An over and over ache. Increasing pain. And the exact what of the blow does not really matter. But the why does.
Paul sought relief. "My grace is all you need," God spoke. "My power works best in weakness." And Paul, whose life was not his own, whose life was lived in Christ alone, when hearing God's voice, knowing pain would remain, said, "I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."
Hurt, pain, denial, limitations, heartache, illness. Whether great, small, or so-so, all teach and prove. God chooses to use our frailties for His glory when we let Him. NO DOUBT, there are times of deliverance and healing. Such miracles bring glory to God and may at any moment be part of His plan.
But, one way or another, God allows our physical or emotional pain to reveal Himself in our lives. Pain is a trumpet resounding in our ears. An awakening. An alarm. A cry. A siren of sorts. A voice, whether softly spoken in background noise, shouted above every other sound, or fixed with perfect, personal decibel.
And above all, it is for our good. Remember Romans 8:28? Using Greek meanings, we might paraphrase, "When we clearly see, we understand that all individual things, and the whole of our lives, work together, as an entire process, for our benefit, to each one of you who loves God and is, with God's intention, called by Him to show His glory."
Knowing His good is at work, we are ready to listen, to look, to yield even what seems to us a minor problem. We are set on a direct path to find God's glory for our lives. With spiritual ears set to hear, with volume turned-up, we are on the edge of our seats, our hearts waiting for His truth to speak. Our souls ready to bear God's intention, our hearts longing to glory, as Paul did, in the cross of Christ.
If by some means denying chocolate can bring Him more glory in my life, then let it be so done! I have, says my dear husband and my doctors, a habit of not taking care of self as I ought. Perhaps the Lord has, in His love, spoken with His megaphone. "Do you finally get it?" Do you really understand the importance of being a good steward of your body? Can you now clearly see how hearing my voice is for your good? Even if it means sacrificing small things? Do you still despise the small things? Do you see my love even here? Andrea, do you know I love you in all things?"
"Yes, Lord, yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. . . . And, oh, dear Father, I love you so, because you first loved me."
Scripture references are from 2 Corinthians 12.
Quoted scripture is from the NLT.
Greek information is from e-sword.
Tomorrow, Jeff is scheduled for a biopsy, but we won't know results for one week, perhaps two because we will be out-of-town next week and Jeff's doctor will be gone the week following that. We are trying to arrange a phone call with his doctor to avoid the agony of the unknown. If it is not possible, then, with the Psalmist, may the Lord help us to say, "I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God" (38:15).
Thank you for your continued prayers and words of encouragement. God's is so good, so faithful, and His grace truly sufficient. And I have no doubt that your prayers are holding us up as we wait.
I would like to pray for each one of you today. May the Lord, Jesus Christ, in the fullness of His grace, meet all your needs.
Oh, dear Lord, bless my precious friends at each turn in their lives. I ask, heavenly Father, for your guidance for them in all things. You hold each one in the palm of your hand. And, oh, how you care for them! Oh, how you love each one!
You know their names. You know their anxieties. You know their cares. You know their fears. You see their plans. You know their dreams. And your eye is always aware of their every move and each cry of their hearts.
Thank you, Father, for the inspiring lives they live for you. Bless them abundantly for their love and compassion for others. And, in all things, Lord, may they know you and see your moving in every part of their lives.
And I pray each one will feel your presence near in a special way.
In Jesus Name, Amen.