Searching for a quick fix to stop the pain in our lives is a natural response for most of us. Especially when it’s more pain than we think we can handle.
But what if we didn’t rush off searching for a solution every time pain comes to call? What if instead, we saw in our pain an opportunity to create something new?
A different way to think about pain.
I started suffering from headaches when I was 14 years old. At the time our family doctor’s best advice was this: “You’ll probably outgrow them. Take two aspirin when you need it and try not to spend so much time reading.” (Ah! The world of medicine in 1973!)
It was a quick fix to a problem that didn’t go away.
Over the years, I learned to live with my headaches by having a ready supply of extra-strength Excedrin on hand at all times. When the chronic pain would become too much for me to handle, I would strike out once again seeking answers. And a new battery of tests – MRIs of my brain, blood work for allergies, eye and dental exams, etc. – would reach the same conclusion. I suffered from chronic cluster headaches that would worsen into a migraine if not treated. And the treatment? Two Excedrin at the onset or risk a debilitating migraine.
I settled for the quick fix as a way of life.
Then several months ago, something surprising happened. I made some changes in my eating and sleeping habits and started using a few essential oils (Tension Relief Synergy Blend from Plant Therapy is the one that worked for me.) And for the first time in as long as I can remember, I woke up without a headache. The pain was gone. And it hasn’t come back. Finally, I’m living nearly headache free.
Why did it take so long to find a permanent solution? Because I settled for a quick fix that only masked the pain. I settled for living a less than healthy life, surrendered to the belief that it was the best I could hope for.
God wants more for us than what we’re willing to settle for to stop the pain.
I find sometimes I tackle other pain in my life the same way I approached finding a solution to my headaches. With the belief that finding temporary relief is the best I can hope for. That I just need to figure out how to handle it because, after all, doesn’t God promise that He won’t give us more than we can handle?
But here is the problem with that often misguided sentiment. God does give us more than we can handle on our own. We were never meant to tackle the painful things life throws at us by relying on our own strength or cleverness to fix it. And when we follow our natural instincts to go for the quick fix, it’s not only the pain that gets cut short. We can also cut ourselves off from the new thing God wants to build to take its place.
Patching up the old thing is never the main thing with God.
You see God is in the business of making things new. So He’s not much interested in temporarily patching up the things in our lives that are causing us pain by not working the way we want them to. No matter how good of a job we do at making repairs or propping things up, if God wants something more for us, a quick fix to stop our pain won’t satisfy Him. He’s after a full renovation.
So the next time you find yourself tempted to settle for a quick fix in a painful situation, take time to ask, “What new thing do you want to do in this part of my life, Lord? And how far have my attempts to fix things taken me away from your vision?”
Then hang on. Because when you allow the pain to do its work, the Father who loves you just might create something that looks nothing like the quick fix life you would have settled for.
And as you shout, “This, Lord? I can’t handle this!” remember that you don’t have to. Not in your own strength or cleverness or ability to fix things. But by the power of His love and the grace He supplies as He creates a new and healthy thing from your pain.
“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NLT)