by Greg Sharp
In his song Great Reward, Tim Timmons sings “I won’t demand to know the reasons for my suffering. These open hands will trust Your wisdom beyond what I see.”
That song has been ministering to me this year because I really wish I had a better understanding of what God’s plan is for me.
As you may already know, for the last 8 months, I have been dealing with a yet unexplained pain in my abdomen. A series of tests and procedures have yet to reveal the source of the pain though I’ve been managing it with a rather frightening regimen of pain killers. I have good days and bad days but the pain never goes away and is a constant reminder of my physical brokenness.
“I won’t demand to know the reasons for my suffering. These open hands will trust Your wisdom beyond what I see.” -Great Reward by Tim Timmons
Pastor Matt Hein’s sermon this week touched on the theme of trust in God in times of struggle, even to the point of trusting Him literally with your life and the lives of your loved ones. He relayed the story of a woman in our congregation who experienced the peace of God’s promise as she confronted her own mortality during childbirth.
All this was of course in the frame of the question from Jesus, “who do you say that I am?”
Who do I say that Jesus is? If I am honest with myself, I would answer him by turning that question around on him. Who are you? More like where? Where are you, Jesus? Where is this great physician we’ve been hearing about? Where is the healer and restorer, the one that made the blind see and the paralyzed walk? Where is Jesus when I’m curled up in a ball in agony?
I’ll admit that through much of my ordeal, my mind (along with the help of WebMD) has played through all of the worst case scenarios. In a day when we can plug our symptoms into a website to find out just exactly what it is that’s killing us today, it’s even more difficult to find optimism in time of sickness.
Unfortunately for me, my condition has required me to spend a lot of time in bed alone with my thoughts. One thing that I’ve learned is that I’m not a lot of fun to hang out with. I’m a cynic. I’m a skeptic. I’m defeatist and sometimes I just am a downer to be around. Left to my own devices, I would just give up. Who would want to be around someone like that, let alone help them?
For me, the answer has come from one passage from scripture that has helped me look beyond my own pain, Philippians 3:10-14. Here Paul encourages us that our current sufferings are but a contrast to the great reward to come.
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I have an appointment in a couple days to see if exploratory surgery is an option worth pursuing, or even something a surgeon would be willing to try. Surgery comes with its own set of anxieties. Regardless, I will press on toward what is ahead, daring to pray that I will be given the courage to trust in God through even this.
Who do I say that you are, Jesus? You are my vision. You are my hope restored. Now and forever, you are my great reward.