"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19-21
I used to read passages like this and kind of skip over them because well frankly I didn't think they really pertained to me. I saw words like sorcery, drunkenness, and orgies and decided that wasn't me. But when chronic pain entered my life I realized how deceived I was in that thinking. I know I've definitely had my fare share of envy, fits of anger, (just ask my husband!), idolatry, and of course jealously to name a few. I am slowly beginning to see how sinful I really am. Perhaps then my pain then is a blessing--driving me to Jesus, the one who has paid the price for my sin, and helping me to be more like Him? I'm reading a new book called "Be Still My Soul" by Nancy Guthrie, who's testimony with suffering is amazing, that has been so encouraging. In it Joni Eareckson Tada says,
"When suffering sandblasts us to the core, the true stuff of which we are made is revealed. Suffering lobs a hand-grenade into our self-centeredness, blasting our soul bare, so we can be better bonded to the Savior. Our afflictions help to make us holy. And we are never more like Christ, never more filled with his joy, peace and power than when sin is uprooted from our lives."Is that what I really want...for sin to be uprooted from my life? Let's be honest, sometimes it's "fun" and much easier to wallow in self-pity than to cry out for God's grace in times of jealousy. But that will only drive me away from the one who loves me and is working all things for my good. I want to be happy for someone when I hear they are expecting a baby even though I likely will not be able to have another child. I want to encourage someone when I hear they are running a marathon even though I will likely never run races again. I want to be excited for someone when they go overseas even though I may never enjoy the privilege of traveling overseas again. I want to smile when I see others happy and enjoying their life. Even though my life is very hard and nothing like I desired I have the most important reason to rejoice because my name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20)! All this other "stuff" is nothing in comparison.
I often wonder if there will come a day when I hear something that has once caused such jealousy, but instead I will be genuinely happy for the person. I know for certain that it will only be by the grace of God! Sanctification is a lifelong process and as difficult as this battle with chronic pain is right now, I find comfort in knowing it is helping to shape me into the person God wants me to be for His glory.