Memories of Pain

Why would anyone intentionally burn themselves? I have had a minor burn and the pain is so harsh that I am more careful than ever around a stove or my flat iron or anything hot! Seriously. When I was young I burned my hand on our electric stove and to this day…I can almost feel the same pain. It is a vivid, clear memory of pain as if it were yesterday but it happened 41 years ago when I was ten. Now that burn was not caused by me being in the “wrong” or “misbehaving,” it was an accident. But the pain is something I remember.

Another kind of pain I remember is when my words have wounded someone. That was for sure “misbehaving on my part,” or a better word is “sin,” and it wasn’t an accident. Wish it weren’t true…but I have pain from my words. I also have regret. I can’t think of any physical pain I have endured over my sin but I can think of plenty of emotional pain I have had over my sin.

As I have been reading through the book of John, a book I love in the Bible, I have carefully read the story of the man who was an invalid for 38 years found in chapter 5. He was laying by the “healing pool” in Jerusalem when Jesus saw him and asked, “Do you want to get well?” Funny, instead of saying “YES!” the man says, “Sir I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”……Today, I wonder if Jesus were walking by and asked the same question would the invalid reply with…”DUH……why in the heck do you think I am here…dude? My insurance plan isn’t as good as everyone else’s, so I am not getting the help I need.”

….the story continues. Jesus tells the man to get up because he has been healed and tells him to pick up his mat. The man then gets up and is healed. At that time he doesn’t realize it was Jesus who healed him and, when asked who healed him, he couldn’t say. The religious leaders could have cared less that the invalid had been healed. They were more concerned with the “law” and the fact that he had been told by someone to “carry his mat” on the Sabbath which was forbidden by “law!”

Of course, the obvious lesson is that knowing Jesus is not about keeping laws, meaning you can’t earn your way to heaven by keeping the laws. It is about a “relationship” with a God who has compassion and desires for us to know Him, love Him and obey the laws He gives out of a mutual love between God and man.

The story picks back up with Jesus going to the temple and finding the healed man and saying to him, “See you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” I remind you that these words are in red in the Bible meaning they were directly spoken by Jesus. This story is a story I have read many times but the story behind the story, if you read carefully is this: Jesus says you are well again……maybe he had been healed before?…….maybe he once was well but something happened that left him as an invalid? Is Jesus referring to his sin as the cause for his sickness? Is He warning him that if he doesn’t stop sinning, it might happen to him again or something worse could happen??? Many commentators think Jesus is referring to where the invalid man may spend eternity, but still, it begs the question of evaluating our lives in light of our sin.

If you bring it to 2014, I can’t help but think that if it was sin (a personal choice) that…..caused his injury….maybe he was drinking too much and fell? Or, was he at the wrong place at the wrong time and physically got into a fight and got hurt…and this caused his injury?…..I think many times we don’t want to admit that our actions can cause our pain or injury….we fail to trace back why we are where we are???

Do we see how our actions, sins, brought on the “injury” either physically, emotionally or even financially?……I am the first to look at this and ask myself…..What sin am I committing that may be causing me pain or injury, or even worse, causing pain to someone else???? It is clear to me from reading this story more than once that our sin can cause our personal injury….we are given free will….it isn’t God who inflicts injury….I don’t claim to understand all of God’s ways and why He allows certain things and doesn’t allow others….but it is clear to me from this story that our sin……can cause bad things to happen to us and it is our doing! We can cause and bring on our own pain. Not all pain is brought on by sin but stepping back and asking the Lord to show us if this is the case is important.

The great news is that Jesus forgives and heals. He has compassion and His desire is for us to seek Him and listen to Him and read His Word so that it may go well with us. Allow this scripture to penetrate your heart and own it for yourself.

Isaiah 40:28-31, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. HE gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary. and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord, will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

God does and will forgive sin, cleanse us from our past and current sins. He alone can make us soar like eagles. We have the choice to turn to Him, confess our sins and He is faithful to forgive and renew our strength.

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