Wednesday, November 16, 2016
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis
Very early in my ministry, during my first full-time appointment, God spoke to me. I am convinced of it, and it changed the way I viewed pain and the world from then on. You may disagree but let me tell you the story—then you decide.
A member of the smallest church I ever served was dying. I really liked him as he had always been supportive of me and would pump my hand after every service and tell me my words were a gift from God to him. How could you not like a man like that? Then cancer got him. He was an old man, about the age I am now. The disease moved swiftly through him and struck him down, held him down, and tortured him. He was in terrible pain that only the strongest medication could touch, but it left him comatose and he refused it. It was hard to visit him, but I did every chance I got. Then, one day, when I entered his hospital room, he was surrounded by weeping family members. He motioned me to his side and whispered to me, “Get these crying babies away from my bed.” I quickly organized a family prayer and had his family form a half circle with their backs to the man’s bed. They bowed their heads and we began to pray. While we were praying (okay, my eyes weren’t shut because I didn’t know what the guy was up to), the old man, in the midst of his great pain, sat up in bed. He smiled and looked straight at me. He held up one finger that I took to mean “first” and then pointed to a picture of Jesus near his bed. He then mimed hugging. So, first, he was going to hug Jesus. He looked expectantly at me and I nodded slightly, “I got it.” Then, after holding up two fingers, he mimed casting a fishing pole and catching a fish. He looked at me again. I nodded again, I got it. First, hug Jesus, second, go fishing. He smiled at me a last time, shook his head at the weeping family, and sank back onto the bed and passed into the arms of Jesus. I never doubted him for a single moment. I knew that God had just spoken to me through him. Pain may come but death would bring joy and release and reunion with Christ. No one will ever convince me that God was not speaking directly to me or that it was just a coincidence that this happened early in my ministry. Just like I nodded at the old man in great pain who was wanting to know if I understood, I nodded at God, too.
Do you get it? We are never to give up, never to give in, to love God always—through our pain, through our distress, through our anxiety because God is always with us waiting to wrap His arms around us and welcome us into His world of peace without pain. You don’t have to believe that God spoke to me that day, but I sure do. It has made the world and the suffering I have had to endure easier to accept. It has made all the difference in my life. God wants to speak to you—let Him.