“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Since birth, I have struggled with serious health issues due to Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease with no cure that severely affects the respiratory and digestive systems. This disease has resulted in having to endure numerous surgeries and procedures, countless hospitalizations, a daily regimen of meds and treatments, and having to deal with constant physical, mental, and emotional turmoil and pain. Nevertheless, I know that my kingdom purpose is to glorify Christ. This includes living a life that is riddled with pain and difficulty. A few weeks ago, Pastor Ben told me,“Sometimes God receives glory in us through an act of healing and sometimes He receives glory through our perseverance and worship in the midst of suffering.”
“Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”1 Corinthians 10:31
It’s easy to praise and worship God in times of blessing, but much tougher to do so in times of trial. For me, my daily pain pushes me closer to Christ, as there is no other thing nor person that offers a better comfort than Jesus and His loving compassion and peace that surpasses understanding. Jesus endured tremendous pain during His life on earth: separation from the Father, bearing the weight of all of humanity’s sin, physical agony of beatings, a crown of thorns digging into His skin, and nails piercing His hands, and excessive humiliation. He understands. He can relate. He endured all of this pain so that mankind may be freely given the incredible gifts of gracious and merciful salvation and eternal life with Him. He is the reason for my hope as He has granted me loving mercy, unending grace, and the promise of an eternal life to be free from pain and tears (Revelation 21:4). There are certainly many times when I grow weary of enduring the difficulties that come with every day and I want to give up. But at those times, I am reminded to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-3). If earthly pain is what it takes for me to have a closer personal relationship with Jesus, then so be it. Pastor Dan reminded me recently, “In 10,000 years when we are all in eternity, those of us who know God will see our time on earth and the suffering there as just a blip in who we are and all that we know and have become.” So until that glorious day when I will leave this broken world and enter eternity, I strive daily to worship Christ and grow closer to Him. I want to look back on this vapor of earthly life and know that despite my pain, I still worshipped Jesus and glorified Him through my brokenness. Pain should be a catalyst for worship, not a deterrent.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”Romans 8:18
Over the past few years, I have established several methods of worship to implement into my daily life. I pour my heart out in prayer to the Lord daily, thanking Him for the gifts and blessings He has given me, asking for strength to endure the day, and praying about specific needs made known by those around me. Some days, I go outdoors and spend time by myself or with friends to immerse myself in His amazing world that I get the pleasure to enjoy. This does a world of good in lifting my spirits and gazing in awe upon the mighty works of His hands that He spoke into creation. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t spend hours with my headphones on listening to and pondering worship music so that I can drown out my battles and hear nothing except lyrics containing the beautiful truths about my Savior and His promises. There are times when I am so worn down that all I can do is read and re-read passages of familiar Scripture to soothe the anguish in my heart while the bodily war wages on. Every day, I seek the opportunity to bring joy to at least one person and share the love of Christ through my actions and words of encouragement. Lately, I have discovered peace and delight in penning poetry based on theological truth with a purpose to glorify Christ and shift my focus from my struggles to Him, and how He is mightier than anything I will ever have to endure. I am thankful for the many ways I am able to worship Christ, and hope to make it more of a daily habit to praise Him for who He is and the great love He has shown to all of us!
“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”John 16:33
When the time comes for me to join Christ in His eternal kingdom, I don’t want to look back and see that I spent the life God gave me cultivating bitterness because life is unfair, complaining about my struggles, or sulking when waves of pain washed over me. I want to look back and know that I worshipped Jesus daily, showed the hurting the reason for my hope, offered love to the rejected, gave compassion to the brokenhearted, and hope that Christ was able to put on display through my life despite my suffering. Everyone will experience trials and pain in some form or another, and dark days in life can either be spent whining or worshipping. Which will you choose? Will your pain be a catalyst for worship?
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”2 Corinthians 4:16-17