I’m a silly little monkey sometimes. How about you?
I have been thinking so much lately about my chronic condition – Fibromyalgia. I have been thinking about the fact that although on the surface, it may seem like suffering, I really haven’t quite been looking at it that way.
Instead, I have been struggling, friends.
Let me explain further by sharing this with you:
Suffering ~ The state of undergoing pain, hardship or distress. Anguish, adversity, torment, martyrdom. Opposite: Pleasure, or happiness.
Struggling ~ Making forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction. Having difficulty coping with or handling. Fight, grapple, wrestle, brawl, spar. Opposite: Surrender, giving in, peace
Suffering seems in our culture to have a nicer ring to it, no? Well, not in the sense that anyone wants to suffer, but the person “undergoing” the suffering is, well ~ thought well-of, I would say.
Struggling is more of an action – it’s seen as something not happening to a person, but a thing that person is actively doing. Often struggling is seen as somehow sad, or less than. Other times, people place admiration upon the person who “fights for their rights.”
I don’t care what the world really thinks in the big picture of it all, friends. But I will say that sometimes I do get caught up, in the midst of my “condition” (no one really wants to call it an illness yet) in wondering why people treat folks with invisible illnesses as though maybe, just maybe, it’s all in their head.
I can tell you – without question – this stuff is not all in my head. I’m not even convinced that this label of “Fibromyalgia” is quite all the way accurate. There may be something bigger going on than what meets the eye. I can say most definitively that the spiritual struggle is by far been more pervasive than even the widespread pain can be.
So back to the struggling and suffering stuff. Friends, I may suffer sometimes in the clinical and dictionary definition way with regard to this problem I have. But I must tell you, I don’t feel like it’s true suffering at all.
There are people in the world that can attest to what true suffering really is. I am not one of them.
This version of “suffering” that I am experiencing doesn’t take away my happiness. It doesn’t completely steal my peace (most days). It tries to ~ I’ll give you that. Sometimes I have to fight, and by fight I mean surrender a lot of stuff to the Lord. My human weaknesses, my sin, my selfishness, my desire to have it all, is really the way that I suffer as I walk this earth. It is far more crippling of a condition than this chronic pain syndrome is.
So in reality, it is me that “tries to” steal my own peace. It is me who I have to fight against every single day. It is me and the elevation of self that tries to put up a fight.
I am not a martyr.
I am not deserving of recognition for how I handle my pain.
I have a lot of things that afflict me that are far greater than Fibromyalgia.
But I am saved by Jesus Christ ~ and that makes me special.
That and that alone.
Him and Him alone.
Friends, the struggling aspect of things is what assails me more, by far. I am a little control freak who has “struggled” her whole life to achieve balance and peace.
It ain’t gonna happen.
I find myself struggling and getting all jumbled up some days about the stuff that I simply cannot control – and when that happens, I’m pretty much wasting my time. I find I end up having to surrender it all anyway at the end of the day. The only thing about that that holds any value whatsoever, is that it teaches me even more about surrendering it all to Christ.
Other times, struggle can be good. We have to struggle and fight to not get sucked down into the mire ~ into the “I gotta fight for my right to party” mentality. We have to fight and grapple and grasp for the outstretched hand of Jesus sometimes. This is a good kind of struggle. And thankfully, my stubborn self helps me out a little with this kind of thing.
But ultimately, I can offer nothing in the fight against worldly thought processes and mentalities. I have nothing to bring to the table that will help me fight against those things which are seen or unseen that threaten to attack. Nothing of Annie will help here, friends.
But I have Jesus.
My Lord and Savior saves me from more than I know – all the time.
My Lord and Savior can give meaning to even seemingly “bad” things like suffering and struggling.
My Lord and Savior takes all that is bad and creates good and brings about His will.
Nothing will stop Him.
And there is great peace to be had in the full-on knowledge of that fact.
Are you suffering today, dear friend? Are you struggling to fight for your rights or grappling for the Lord’s peace because something, some outside force is trying to take you further down into the pit of despair. Fear not. The Lord God is with you, friend! Bring it all to Him, won’t you? Leave it at his feet. Simply accept that today this is how it is, but know WITHOUT QUESTION that He can change it all at any moment.
And even through the ugly – the very, very ugly – He will shine His beautiful face upon you.
In that, we can rejoice!
In that, we are made free!
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5\