Are you satisfied with your life? Do you ever feel like there should be more to life than this? We go to work, raise our kids, build beautiful homes, go on vacation and live the American dream, but often we are left feeling empty. There is always the vacation let down as we are driving home. The vacation never lasts long enough. We cannot wait to get home so we can start planning the next one. Our homes grow old and need repairs. What will truly satisfy us in life? I have never told much of my story on this blog, but I have decided to quit hiding behind my keyboard and open up. I want to tell you how I found the living water that quenches the thirsting of my soul.
I grew up in a Christian home, in fact, my grandfather was a revival preacher. I was saved at the age of 16, went to college, got married and had two kids. My husband and I had basically fulfilled the American dream. I was satisfied with my status quo life, never realizing that something was still missing. Then a series of events changed my life so drastically that life would never be the same. I will not tell you all the details because this post would be too long, but I will share bits and pieces.
Seventeen years ago, I was taking my kids to swimming lessons. Back then, I loved to take the scenic route through the state park. As I was driving around a curve, I saw a stopped car in front of me for some turkeys who had decided to cross the road. I was able to stop in time to avoid collision, but the speeding car coming around the curve behind me could not. The teenage driver slammed into my bumper. Thank goodness my children were not hurt, but my head was thrust forward and back violently. My neck started hurting as I was standing on the side of the road. Little did I know that this wreck would change the course of my life.
After the wreck, I developed chronic neck pain. I have been to physical therapy countless time, joined the gym, bought special pillows, visited chiropractors and tried every home remedy I can find to relieve my pain. I have prayed for seventeen years for healing, but God has always remained silent. This desire to be pain free has consumed much of my thought life. Whenever I clean house, go to the store or take a walk, I am constantly reminded of the pain in my neck. The pain is not always the same. The worst pain can be caused by pinched nerves in my neck. This pain can be so excruciating that I can barely turn my neck. The pain can radiate down my arm into my fingers. This pinched nerve pain is not constant, although I have experienced it for months at a time. The usual more frequent pain is caused by muscle spasms. This pain is like an aching burn which never goes away. This type pain can be a level 1, but sometimes it can go to what I call a level 4 pain. When it reaches a level 4 for a significant amount of time, it becomes a level 10. Chronic pains wears on you over time. When I suffer from level 4 pain for a few days, it is tolerable, but over time it becomes unbearable.
Fast forward several years, minus many details, I have since developed lower back pain and bursitis. Chronic pain can be a joy killer. It can prevent me from keeping my house clean. It can prevent me from going out in the evening, because the pain is worse at night. Over the years I have found remedies to help keep my pain at bay, but I never know when I will awaken to excruciating pain.
Even though I have suffered a long time, my trial has helped my relationship with the Lord grow deeper and I have matured. When my back is out, I spend much time in prayer and Bible study. In fact, I don’t believe this blog would exist if I didn’t suffer from pain. It took many years for me to acknowledge that I had a thorn in the flesh. I did not want to admit it because God told Paul He was not going to answer his prayer. It would mean God was not going to heal me. (Yes, I am still praying for healing) Sometimes I remind God that Paul only had one thorn in the flesh, but I have three. You would think that three would be enough, but my story has another twist.
Two years ago, I found out I had Tailor bunions on my feet, which are bunions on the little toes. I had developed tendinitis in my ankles, not to mention pain on the bottom of my feet. It felt like I was walking on rocks. I decided to have surgery on my left foot, hoping to find some pain relief. I prayed about this decision and had absolute peace. What could go wrong when you have peace in prayer? Well, something did go wrong. it took twice as long for me foot to heal so I limped for 6 months. I also developed a neuroma on the bottom of my foot, which is nerve damage feeling like pins and needles. You know how your foot feels when it falls asleep? So, rather than improving my condition, it made it worse.
After my surgery, God become more silent than I have ever experienced. I had difficulty writing for this blog because of lack of inspiration. This caused me to go into a deep depression. Some people have referred to it as the dark night of the soul. Why was God doing this to me? I am trying to reach people for Christ, teach college students how to pray and share their faith and promote revival and spiritual awakening. I have had many talks with God over my conditions. These are some of the prayers I have prayed:
- Were three thorns in the flesh not enough, Lord?
- Why four? Paul only had one!
- Do I not do enough for you? Many Christians do almost nothing for you and they have wonderful pain-free lives.
It is okay to talk to the Lord this way. He knows how you feel anyway. Even though I cried out to the Lord about all my pain for two years, I have had almost complete silence until a few months ago. One night as I was praying about my hip, the Lord actually spoke in His still small voice. I had not heard his voice in a very long time. I had asked the Lord to remove at least one of my ailments. He told me, “You are only wearing one metatarsal pad!” and that is all He said. I knew immediately what Me meant. I wear a metatarsal pad in the center of my shoe to keep the pressure off my neuroma. It works very well. My doctor prescribed me to wear them in both shoes, but I decided that I would wear them on the foot which was bothering me. They are not the most comfortable things in the world anyway. This was causing one foot to be slightly higher than the other. The Lord did not heal me instantly, but slowly over time my leg pain and bursitis are getting better. Thank you, Lord, for answering one of my prayers.
Even though I had a year long pity-party, I learned how to be close to the Lord, even during His silence. I told you this long story to let you know that I will never be the person I was before my wreck. That life is gone. I have had to figure out God’s course for my new life. I have accepted my new life. Even though I sometimes long for the old life, my new life is wonderful. It is filled with love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness and self-control because I have learned how to walk in the Spirit. If you will hang on a little longer, I will teach you how to live a satisfied life. One that will enable you to walk through any storm that comes your way.
What I have learned from my suffering
The first lesson I learned is that God will allow you to suffer. In fact, he will allow you to suffer more than you can bear. He will also allow you to suffer for much longer than you would like. Don’t believe the lies that say otherwise. A false gospel is being preached that says, “God will not put on you more that you can handle.” This is a lie. My life is living proof that this is a lie. Another lie that people will tell you, just as Job’s friends told him, is that your suffering is caused by your sin. Sometimes suffering can be caused by our sin, but not always. God told Satan that Job was a righteous man. Job’s trials were not a result of his sin. Here are a few more the lessons I have learned through my suffering. Hopefully this will help some of you.
Nothing of this world will satisfy the longing of your soul
You will not be satisfied in relationships, possessions, social status, vacations, number of followers on social media or having the perfect body. Only Jesus Christ will satisfy your yearning. During my trials, I have relied much on the book of Psalms to bring me peace. One of my favorites is Psalm 42. If you click on the link, you will see that the title of this Psalm is “Thirsting for God in Trouble and Exile.” I also love the song titled, “As the Deer”, which you can find on YouTube. Music is very soothing. The right type of music can actually relieve muscle tension. Here are my favorite verses from this Psalm.
As the deer [b]pants for the water brooks,
So my soul [c]pants for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and [d]appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go along with the throng and [e]lead them in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you [f]in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
[g]Hope in God, for I shall [h]again praise [i]Him
For the [j]help of His presence.
6 O my God, my soul is [k]in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
Psalm 42:1-6 (NASB)
In order to have your thirst quenched, you must spend time with the Lord in Bible reading, Bible study and prayer
Notice that I made a distinction between Bible reading and studying. There are many good Bible studies out there today. They can help us better understand the Bible, but they cannot replace spending time just reading the Bible. I recommend reading the Bible book by book. We miss the lesson God is teaching us in a book when we just pick and choose verses to read on a daily basis. You do not read a novel this way. Would you understand a novel if you skipped to the middle and started reading? You won’t understand the Bible either. You don’t have to read the Bible from cover to cover, but you should read book by book. I just completed writing a Bible study on the book of Philippians. Do you know the theme of this book? Do you know the circumstances of this book? I bet you know the following verse:
I can do all things through [a]Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
Why did Paul write this verse? Notice that this verse is in chapter 4 of Philippians. It is a promise, but for whom? We like to skip over the other 3 chapters of Philippians and head straight to the promises. Most of God’s promises are conditional. We must meet the conditions in chapters 1-3 in order to understand the promises in chapter 4. Pay special attention to chapter 2 when reading the book of Philippians. If we are not obedient to the entire word of God, we can’t expect God to give us joy.
Let’s look at Psalm 1. See what is promised to the person who spends time in the Word of God.
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the [a]ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he [b]meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the [c]rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
Psalm 1 (NKJV)
Many people will say, “I don’t have enough time to do all of that.” We all have the same amount of time each day. We have 1440 minutes a day. You may not have an extra hour in your day, but you can find 30 minutes.
I challenge you to turn off the television, get off social media, and/or wake up 30 minutes earlier. If you will find time to spend with the Lord, this is what is promised to you:
Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. John 4:14 (NKJV)
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NKJV)
I am not promising your trials and your suffering will go away. You might have to learn to live a new normal as I have done. What will change is you! The way you view your trials and suffering will change. Eventually you will long for your quiet time with the Lord. You will be watching television and think, “This is boring, I would rather spend time with the Lord.”
Come to the well of living water and take a sip. Once you taste this cool, refreshing, revitalizing water, the Lord will satisfy your thirst. You will never be satisfied with any counterfeit, no matter what suffering you endure.