Reposted from Rooted Thinking. By Forrest McPhail.
The Struggle Is Real
Today is one of my “dark days.” Pain has been relentless for a couple of days, restricting my life and ministry. What I do on such days requires much mental discipline.
For the past thirteen years I have been battling what was first diagnosed as post-viral syndrome following a bout with a debilitating virus. After years of investigation and treatments, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Various symptoms have come and gone at various levels of intensity: headache and sinus pain, painful sensitivity to sound and touch, nerve and joint pain, lack of concentration, fatigue, bouts with discouragement, burning and swelling sensations, etc. These things are now being attributed to my brain signals misfiring and misinterpreting pain. Otherwise I am very healthy!
It has been tough at times. My greatest personal trials during this have to do with how the pain hinders me from doing so much of what I want to do with my family and ministry. To endure pain and suffering on the physical level is one thing. But when the suffering hinder me from doing what I want to do for the Lord, I struggle.
Here are some lessons in grace I continue to learn through this:
- God’s will is more important that my desires. My will must align with His perfect will. I must be able to pray “Thy will be done” with sincere faith (Matt. 6:10).
- The Lord uses such trials to make me a more effective servant by testing my faith, helping me maintain humility, and causing me to experience His enabling grace more deeply (2 Cor. 12:1-10).
- My pain and limitations allow me to identify with others who suffer and to be able to comfort them as I have been (2 Cor. 1:3-7).
- Emotional and mental struggles are a normal response to ongoing suffering. These struggles are not sin in themselves, but my response to them may well be. A book by Dr. Ronald Horton has been very helpful:Mood Tides: Divine Purpose in the Rhythms of Life.
- My suffering is an opportunity for God’s grace to be seen through me, not an excuse for sin or despair (2 Cor. 4:7-9).
- God is using my suffering to teach me death to self so that my testimony and ministry might be more useful in bringing Christ’s life to others (2 Cor. 4:10-12).
- I am not accountable to God for what He has hindered me from doing in His wise Providence. I am responsible for what I can do, not for what I cannot (Lk. 19:11-27).
- I am called by Christ to the Gospel itself, not to a people or place or specific permanent ministry (Rom. 1:1). Where He leads me, I will follow.
- No matter what my circumstances, God will always provide opportunities for gospel ministry if I remain passionate to serve Him (Phil. 1:12-18).
- When suffering intensifies, I must maintain vigilance against the temptation to turn to sin or unhealthy entertainment in order to cope. My godliness must be more important than my physical comfort (Lk. 4:1-13).
What are some lessons that God has taught you as you have dealt with affliction in your life? Are there some things that I did not express here that you would add?
Forrest has served as a missionary in Buddhist Cambodia in Southeast Asia for the last twenty years. He presently serves as the Asia/Australia/Oceania regional director for Gospel Fellowship Association missions. He enjoys writing and teaching on missions and the Buddhist worldview. He and his wife, Jennifer, have 4 children.