Thursday, April 21, 2016

When Life Makes Sense

Life is hard. At times it's plain impossible, especially when living with chronic illness. Besides the physical challenges we face, we also deal with relational difficulties from people who don't understand our situation.

If you've struggled with this, you're not alone. In fact, I haven't met anyone with chronic illness who had total support from friends and family members. There's usually at least a few people who show compassion, but there's always some or many who don't. And the responses of those people can range from simple disbelief to outright verbal attack.

There's no excuse for unkind behavior. Yet all we can do is rely on God's power to forgive them. We can't afford to hold onto bitterness for someone else's wrong response. And for the others who just don't understand us, I'm finally learning to accept that that's just the way it is.

While I wish every person could demonstrate compassion to us regardless, the reality is that if they haven't experienced it, they just can't relate. When they look at us from the perspective of their knowledge and experience, our lives don't make sense.

As I was pondering these things the other day, I heard a worship song by Robin Mark, and the words spoke exactly to my need. As he sang praise to God he said, "You're the only who satisfies, the only one who makes my life make sense."

I started crying. Because in that moment I realized that it's ok if my life doesn't make sense to someone else. Sometimes it's hard for me to make sense of it myself. But to Jesus, it always makes sense.

First of all, Jesus understands.
Isaiah 53:3 says of Jesus,
"He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised and we held him in low esteem."

When Jesus died on the cross, it didn't make sense to anyone (except maybe his enemies). Even His own followers were confused and devastated. They didn't fully understand who Jesus was or why He came. Yes, Jesus knows what it's like to be misunderstood, rejected, despised.

But secondly, Jesus doesn't just understand - He makes our lives make sense.

Three days after His "senseless" death, Jesus came out of the grave! Death was turned into resurrection! And now we can live everyday with the hope of eternal life in Him!

Romans 8:28 says,
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

No matter how difficult or ridiculous our lives may seem to others, or even to us, God still has a plan. He makes our lives make sense.

May He give us faith to believe it. May He give others eyes to see it.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Respect The Signs

When I lived in Mexico there was one particular road sign that amused me and my friends. Instead of the normal speed limit, speed bump, or other signs, this specific sign said (in Spanish) - "Respect the Signs".

It seemed funny to have a sign telling you to respect the signs. =)

But on deeper reflection, I can see its value. How easy is it to drive the same roads every week and start to ignore the signs? Drive a little faster. Barely slow down for the bumps. Forget to watch for falling rocks....

The problem is that when we don't respect the signs, we do so at our own risk! I think the same is true with our health. God created our bodies in an amazing way! When the body has a problem or a need, it sends you a message, or a sign, in some way. If you make a habit of ignoring those signs, you put yourself at risk.

So what are some of the "signs" your body may be showing you?

1) Unusual fatigue.
This sign could mean that you need to slow down and rest more. Or you may have an infection and your body needs extra energy to fight it. Or perhaps something is wrong and your body is using energy to try to address the problem. Or other things.

2) Ongoing pain.
This sign is your body's way of getting your attention about a problem area. The sooner you find the root issue, the sooner you can address the problem and resolve the pain. Just ignoring the pain or taking pain meds usually prolongs and worsens the root issue.

3) Allergies.
This sign indicates that your immune system isn't functioning well. Finding ways to improve your immune system is so important. Allergies are your warning sign that your immune system needs help.

4) Digestive issues.
This sign is vital to pay attention to. Good health begins in the gut. Anything you can do to improve gut health will improve overall health.

5) Mental/emotional symptoms.
This sign is probably harder to recognize but very significant. When the body is under stress and working hard to still maintain basic functions, there is often no energy left over for mental focus and concentration or for emotional stability. If negative emotions or "brain fog" are frequent problems, these are big signs that your overall health needs much help.

There are other signs the body uses to get our attention, but I think these are the basic ones that most people experience.

The important thing is for us to learn to "Respect the Signs"! When we pay attention, we can more quickly recognize what our bodies need and take action to move toward better health. 

So what sign from your body do you need to listen to this week?