Think about the gifts you’ve gotten and weren’t all that thrilled about. But later the item becomes indispensable. You ended up loving it right? At my wedding I received a set of towels. It was nice but not all that exciting for a wedding gift.
Let me tell you something about those towels! They were the best towels I ever owned. The first 20+ years of our marriage were rough financially and it was a blessing to have towels that lasted for almost twenty years. I haven’t been able to find anything like them again. They were my favorite towels. And an awesome gift!
Now, I have received a gift from God that I haven’t been particularly thrilled about over the years. I’ve been debating writing about it for at least two months now. I thought if I write this it will sound crazy. I then remembered a biography I read as a teenager.
In Corrie ten Boom’s book “The Hiding Place.” She and her sister Betsie had a similar gift from God: It was the gift of fleas. Yuk! The gift I have received is chronic pain. Ugh!
I pouted. I did not like this answer at all. “How does that make sense” I asked God. “How is pain a gift? I’ve been working so hard to get rid of the pain or at least manage it. My Lord how is this good?” I did not want to thank God for pain. Who wants to write about something so tedious, frustrating and…well for lack of a better word, painful! Not me.
Of course the Holy Spirit gently nudges me. Like my younger sister bumping me in the shoulder, “You know you want to.”
I roll my eyes. “Okay its only curiosity” I grumble. “I just want to know how this is a gift.” I can feel the Father’s knowing smile. I tell you, He knows me so well.
I looked up the part about the fleas. “The Hiding Place” describes when Corrie and Betsie were led into the Barracks 28 dormitory at Ravensbruck. The guide showed them where they would sleep, that is when they discovered the flea infestation. Corrie asked, “Betsie, How can we live in such a place?”
Betsie responded with a prayer, “Show us, Show us how.” Then she exclaims, “Corrie! He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!”
After checking for guards, Corrie took out their hidden bible and read from 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5 “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all”… “Rejoice always. Pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.”
The sisters began to thank God for being assigned together, the bible (the guards had not inspected them), the women in the room, the crowding (Betsie said “we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!”), and…the fleas. Corrie argued the point with her sister but Betsie still thanked God for the fleas.
Corrie and Betsie were able to read their bible and lead services in the dormitory without interruption. They didn’t know why until Betsie discovered the guards would not come into Barracks 28 dormitory because of the fleas! Corrie ten Boom wrote: “My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place, remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”
Without the fleas we may not know Corrie ten Boom’s story. God may not have been as present in Barracks 28 as he was. We may not have The Hiding Place to give us a first-hand account inside Hitler’s evil. Without the gratitude for a little biting pest we may not understand the horror of history repeated.
So back to what I discovered: Since my dad went into the assisted living facility, I have been asked several times why my dad couldn’t just live with me. Even dad has questioned me on this. I find myself explaining that I can’t physically care for my father due to chronic pain and weakness in my joints.
Of course, the next question is, if my husband can care for dad. Patiently I explain he has to work too. That still leaves me alone with dad at night creating an unsafe situation for my dad.
When talking to the Lord about this I realized: Because I am a DIY Type-A personality and if I did not have physical limitations, I would have my dad living in my house. Dad would be here belittling me and criticizing all that I do. When my son needed to move back home, his room would not have been available to him.
God’s gift of pain has brought me closer to my Lord and my family. The pain has taught me to honor my father by placing him where he can get the care he needs. The pain has taught me to care for my needs too. It and the sensitivities have also allowed me to focus on writing and blogging.
Without the pain I would be running around playing dutiful daughter and mother. I would have continued to push my walk with God and my dreams away for the future. Because of the choices I have to make daily, I need to lean on God, the Comforter, to get me through the day. Sometimes the gift given is not what we want. Sometimes the gift is what we need more than we could ever know at the time.
I don’t know what God has planned for my future. I don’t want to miss the gifts. Especially if I could not let go and let God handle something I can’t control: My father. Tonight I thank God for chronic pain. I thank God for slowing me down enough to break the control of another and walk with the one true and loving God.