“Do You Want Fries With That?”
I love a good hamburger. A nice juicy burger with thick lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles and mustard. And, if I’m trying to be good, I’ll stop there. But, if I’m wanting a yes in my life I will succumb when the waiter asks me, “Do you want fries with that?” What’s not to love with hot, extra-crispy fries? Salty with a little ketchup. I actually prefer these over the burger! Especially when they are hot, hot, hot. Want to know something funny? That burger that I mentioned? Well, I can’t eat those any more. Now, I am gluten free, meat free and dairy free. One can dream though.
So, what has this got to do with suffering? A lot really. I had an epiphany this week. I have been cruising along with this affliction and really try to walk it out honestly before God. I mean, really honestly. I have learned to have a very talkative relationship with God. So as I was going along in my week I hit a snag. A big snag. One that had been building up for a while and I did not even realize it. Do you want to know what it is? Here it is: suffering is not a single item on a menu. It has sides. Some of those sides can be very yummy and really enhance the meal. But most of the time the sides to suffering are just more, well, suffering. Let me explain. In my situation I have a constant irritation with my neck because of the way I now have to sleep. I didn’t really have a problem with my neck before, but now it gives me fits. Also, I now have a 12 inch square patch on my right rib cage that is scorched because of my heating pad. I just went to the doctor to make sure I was not doing significant damage to my skin and she reassured me that I was okay for the moment but to be careful. I am now using an essential oil mixture with lemon and chamomile. It is working.
“For in Him you have been enriched in every way.” 1 Corinthians 1:5
As I said, I had an epiphany. I was NOT expecting the sides to my suffering. My whole life has been turned upside down. I don’t clean my house anymore. Sounds good, huh? I might be if you have a choice in the matter. Laundry? I do more than I should, but I really want to help out. Plus, I love hanging clothes on the line. It has always been very therapeutic for me. Grocery shopping. I don’t do this anymore. And I really like doing it.
See what I mean. Not only is there the original affliction, but it has components that one would not even think about. And, I never, ever thought about it before either. When I heard someone was sick, I was just thinking illness, disease, etc. Not that there were other things going on. And this not only effects me, it also effects my family. They have had to up their share around the home, inside and out. And it can be very wearisome. Do they do it willingly, yes. But it is an added burden, nonetheless.
So, what does this have to do with the above verse? I have had a lot of time to think about this. I have been enriched in ways I had not thought possible. I have such a deeper love for Jesus. I find myself praying for a long time – especially when I am experiencing a bad moment. I ask Jesus to help me, then I just keep talking to Him about all kinds of things that are on my heart. I find that I have time for Bible memory. For meditating on Scripture. Then there is the compassion side. I have a lot more compassion and understanding for a person who is going through something. A lot more. And, those platitudes that would roll off my tongue? They aren’t there anymore. Sometimes there aren’t any band aids to fix the problem. The problems are just too huge.
And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
“But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
People have quoted this verse to me over and over again. Oh, it’s true. But sometimes it is not very comforting. Because at the moment I am trying to hold it all together and not lash out, not fall apart, not crawl in a hole or not scream out in pain. You know what I mean? I guess the reality of affliction is that I have to let go. I have to let go of any expectation of what I think God is doing. What I think my affliction looks like, how it is to behave at any given moment. I have to let go of my expectations of what I want and can do. I have to let go of my life.
It isn’t mine in the first place. I have been bought with a price. My body is His temple. And if God wants this temple broken, weak, sore and afflicted, then I guess that is how He wants it. Because He is Sovereign. He is in control. It is His plan. His will for me. And if He wants me to have a full course meal with all the sides, then I am willing to “belly up to the table."