By Meg Line
Imagine not being able to use your dominant arm for several weeks. What would that look like? Suddenly lifting, cooking, cleaning, primping, holding, shaking, clapping, and countless other minute activities become nearly impossible and impossibly difficult without the hand you have depended on since birth.
This frustrating predicament has been my reality this year. Weak shoulders have been the thorn in my side as long as I can remember and it finally got to the point where surgery was required. I soon realized that recovery from surgery is painfully difficult and that I literally could not use my right arm for five weeks. During this time, I saw an ugly side to me; three things that need a healthy dose of sanctification:
- I’m a baby when it comes to pain. I thought I had a semi-high pain tolerance. False. I complained like it was my full-time job.
- If I have one excuse, I have 20. If you could get a degree in making excuses, I’d have my Masters! During the five weeks of recovery I basically sat in a recliner and told my husband that I couldn’t get up because I was too tired, too hungry or -perhaps my favorite excuse- my legs were broken. Yes, I said those things. I neglected my quiet time because I was in “so much pain”. Excuses are incredibly ugly and the Lord sees right through them.
- I rely A LOT on entertainment. During my recovery, I would watch Netflix from the moment my husband left for work to the moment he returned. That’s at least 8 hours of television! Why?! Why did I do that?! How did I justify it? With excuses of course. “You just had a traumatic thing happen to you! You deserve this.”
After staring down these ugly sides to me, I faced the same question we all do when confronted with our ugliness, sin, and failure: “What now?”
“I faced the same question we all do when confronted with our ugliness, sin, and failure: ‘What now?'”
This is where scripture breathes grace into our failure:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
Did you know that there is no condemnation if you are in Christ? The Bible tells us this truth that we rarely believe. We spend a remarkable amount of time reliving our failures, when our true failure is our unrest in the truth of God’s Word. Jesus paid for all my ugliness. He died a horrible death with my sin in mind. He asked his Father to forgive me. He made a way where there seemed to be no way.
“We spend a remarkable amount of time reliving our failures, when our true failure is our unrest in the truth of God’s Word.”
Spending time knowing God’s word frees me up from guilt and discouragement when I face failure, even the failure to spend time in God’s word! And the Bible also gives me the encouragement to change, even in less than ideal circumstances.
“Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” (James 5:10-11)
Job had many heartbreaking situations, yet persevered. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, especially during our times of suffering. So there is a way I can remember these truths, trust God, and put Him first even when things are annoying and painful.
“The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, especially during our times of suffering.”
Dear heart, we’ve all got troubles. How have you been handling yours? A wise woman once said to me, “Put down the phone; go to the Throne.” You are not alone in your short-comings. Join me in crying out to God for help in learning from our ugliness and looking to Him in our times of suffering! Spend time with Jesus, the Source of our grace and help.
Meg is a passionate and honest lover of Jesus and has had the honor of walking with him since middle school. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and teaches a rambunctious class full of preschoolers. A few of her favorite things are English tea, the color of leaves, and reading The Princess Bride aloud with her husband.