Bed Of Affliction
Bed of affliction: how often do we all strive, strain, and fight against the very thing that sometimes God has purposed for good? Not that He intends illness or suffering, but rather He can use it to gain our attention, bring about change, or slow us down. And sometimes that can only be accomplished when we are stilled.
I know there have been many times I have worn myself ragged with work or seeking to conquer the next project or thing--only to be forced to rest. There have been times I have had illness and surgeries that have slowed me down. There have been numerous hospitalizations or flairs with the digestive disease I suffer with that have changed my life plans. It’s like God’s restraining hand has grasped hold of me like an errant child needing to be constrained. It’s as though He has something powerful or wonderful to communicate or do in me that can only be done in a season of rest. Like an affectionate Father who wants to share a secret or have tender moments of intimacy, it can only be imparted to the stilled child held gently in His arms. I sometimes wonder: “Is that holding or restraining brought about through times of affliction?”
I think about my friend Jackie; a vivacious bundle of energy and life. Her personality defies her 5-foot frame. Her laughter and gregarious nature fill up a room and the hearts of others around her simply by her presence, simply by being herself! Jackie who loves life, gusto, and zest, has also known the bed of affliction in the past…
Serious and delicate neurological surgery to repair a compounded disc in her neck slowed her down for the necessary operation, recovery, and rehab. No driving, no lifting, no real activity for weeks on end; a tough call for a doer and go-getter like Jackie.
Just when she was up and going again, or so she thought, suffering struck again. Unknown to her, one of her feet fell asleep with the circulation cut-off while seated one day. When she tried to stand and walk, the foot refused to cooperate. She staggered, twisted her ankle, and fell. The loud popping sound was not a welcomed noise. The pain that followed was a sure sign something was seriously wrong. A trip to the doctor’s confirmed her fears: it was broken!
After weeks in casts and orthotics with doctor’s instructions to return to a wheelchair and absolutely no use or weight on the damaged foot, Jackie began to wonder about God’s restraining hand and whether or not He wanted her to slow down. When the bone refused to heal of its own accord, surgery, pins, casts, rehab, and more downtime were required. Absolutely no weight-bearing pressure was allowed. A wheelchair, crutches, and a variety of medical implements to negotiate her house were ordered—including a ramp and new walkway.
“Do you think God wants me to sit still for a while?” she wondered aloud to our Bible study group of women one day. And Jackie learned to sit, listen, and become the recipient of God’s abundant grace and ministrations in the midst of her suffering. So many people that she had served and cooked for, cared for, given to, now turned to bless her in return. Her friends had to help her and drive her places, since she could not do things for herself. Her family especially had to wait upon her hand and foot—now a reversal of roles.
Through it all there was the reflection time, the sitting still before God, and lots of extra Bible study time. Jackie’s ever-present humor and laughter bubbled over despite her pain and predicament. There was no self-pity, but rather self-reflection before a loving and gracious Heavenly Father who was allowing this for a greater good.
Jackie was finally freed to move her neck and also to walk again, rebuilding the strength and flexibility in her ankle and foot, while trying to restore its proper function and balance. Her bed of affliction had been turned to joy again. She even managed to dance a little one night in her cast and teach us all a few new moves on the dance floor and in life. Now that’s grace in suffering. And I've learned a lot from her.
Could He be using trials in your life to get your attention? Is there something greater He wants to accomplish in and through you during a time of forced rest? The good news is that He will turn your suffering into joy—but in due time.
Come before Me and rest. Learn to be still and know that I am God. Cease your striving, your planning, your busyness, and come and rest awhile with Me. No, I do not cause your suffering, but I am using it for good. And like a surgeon that repairs a broken bone, let Me use this time to repair anything that is broken in you or frayed in our relationship. As you draw near to Me, I will draw near to you. Let your bed of affliction become holy ground where you can meet with Me in special ways. I am always for you and with you; I love you. You are My beloved. I will redeem all your suffering and one day turn it into joy and dancing.
“Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalms 46:10)
"You have turned for me my mourning (suffering) into dancing..." (Psalms 30:11)