It was really quite ferocious. Last week I experienced some pretty serious pain. When it began I had no idea what it was. All I knew was that the pain in the left side of my back, coming around to my stomach was intense. I was having our “morning meeting” with my family when it started coming on, and within a short time, I was out of commission, violently throwing up in the bathroom. My poor little ones and wife were pretty scared for poor old Dad who is usually in pretty good health, overall.
One of my older sons and my wife began searching online for possible causes and making some calls to the local doctor’s office. But after about an hour of this misery, the intense pain began to subside. I laid down and slept for about an hour, and after getting up and drinking some fluids, I was feeling much better. I actually began to write this post that evening, while waiting on two of my boys at their football practice. I was feeling pretty much back to normal, except for a little fatigue. My best guess was that this little escapade was a mischievous little kidney stone that possibly moved quickly through, waiting to make another ambush in a day or so (perish the thought). My only other notion was possible food poisoning from some breakfast I ate.
Well, the ambush came. Two days later I was woken up early in the morning with the intense pain, and throwing up in the bathroom again. This time we decided to get things checked out. To make a short story a little longer, here are a few details for the curious. Turns out that I definitely needed a plumber as I had a seven millimeter blockage in the pipe coming from my left kidney to my bladder. This bad boy being too big to birth, I opted to have a procedure done. As I write this, I am to go back in the hospital in about three weeks to have the stone removed. Many have said having a kidney stone is the closest a man can get to having a baby. Someone asked if I was going to name it after it was born. My brother had one years ago and named it Job. I have thought of Thorn (as in the flesh). Or maybe Rocky. My Mom suggested Beelzebub. If you have any great ideas, be sure to leave them in the comments…
Thinking on these things, I came away with two thoughts.
First, anytime I have some sort of unusual pain or sickness, I often think of those who deal with great suffering on a continual basis. Ever since the fall of man in the garden, pain has been a necessary part of living in this world. I have known some individuals over the years who have had to learn to just live every day with pain. When I experience a little “suffering,” I feel for those folks. The elderly in our world surely know what it is to live with pain. And though we make jokes about it, it really is not funny. Some people just hurt. These experiences can help me to remember that when I meet people, I never know what they might be going through. It can be easy to judge people and their actions, not knowing of their suffering. In what way could I use my time this week to help bring some relief to someone in my circle of influence?
The second thought that comes to mind is how fortunate we are to live in a time when so much pain and suffering has been alleviated, especially in the western part of the world. I have, on more than one occasion, expressed much gratitude for ibuprofen! I am thankful for advancements in science and medicine that bring relief and functionality where there had previously been pain and handicap. One example is teeth– think of it. Can you imagine the tooth pain most people probably had to deal with throughout history? Though many people do still suffer in various ways, we could give pages of examples of how much we are blessed in this today.
And we have such advancements today because, right in the middle of history, in the fullness of time, Jesus the Christ came into His world in flesh and blood. The gospel of Christ alleviates suffering–all kinds of suffering–including physical suffering. This is the work of God. We read in the New Testament that when Jesus walked among men on this earth, He miraculously alleviated the suffering of certain individuals. Of course the relief of suffering that Christ brought in those stories was not an end in and of itself. There was a bigger plan being fulfilled. Christ was bringing an end to all suffering, including eternal suffering. The wonderful works of physical healing that He did were to bring glory to the true and living God, and to bring attention to the Kingdom of Christ which had come among them. The cause of all suffering among mankind is the separation of man and His God due to man’s sin. Christ came to bring forgiveness, reconciliation, and a glorious Kingdom on earth.
The same is true today, and the story goes on. Since Christ ascended to the right hand of God, the Church has been the body of Christ in the world, and this has been the case for over two-thousand years. The Church is Christ walking around in the world today, filled with the Spirit, the hands and feet of Christ, bringing glory to the Father, and drawing men and women back to God, and to the Kingdom of His dear Son.
On one occasion Jesus said to His disciples,
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”John 14:12
If we pay attention, we will recognize it is the nations that have been most impacted by the gospel in the last two-thousand years that have made such great advancements in things like medicine. Nations and individuals infiltrated with the gospel, no matter how imperfect, have brought about great advancements. This is no coincidence.
Have you been alleviated from some suffering due to modern medicine? Give God the glory. Have you been called to be the hands and feet of Christ in this area to help alleviate suffering, bringing attention to the Kingdom of God in the world? Give it all you’ve got! And acknowledge Whose hands are behind the hands of all this good work and research.
There will never be a full end of pain and suffering until the final enemy, death itself, is defeated, and Jesus Christ returns at the end of history. But until that glorious day, the more suffering that is alleviated, and the more lives that are saved, the more glory goes to the Father, and the more the Kingdom of God is able to be expanded. Souls do come in bodies, after all. Under the Lordship of Christ, life and health are good things, and death, disease, sickness and suffering are not.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.Psalm 103:2-5
Well, I sure hope that pain does not return before this kidney stone is removed. But if it does, it’s good to know that there is real help only a phone call away. Praise be to God.
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