Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Choose Your Focus


If living with pain or illness makes things more difficult, then it’s tempting to focus on what you can’t do. But life becomes a series of excuses and complaints. That’s no fun, and it takes energy to complain. For me, I don’t have enough energy to live a whine-y, excuse-filled life. Yes, I can grieve and cry and be sad when needed, but living with a chronic illness does not mean that sadness must be chronic as well.

So, what can I do? Plenty! But I must choose to focus on surrendering my own agenda and accepting what God might be up to.

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”   2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Message)

God wants to use our lives in powerful ways, but more importantly, he wants to be with us and have us be with him. He wants to restore our internal lives, give us peace, joy, perspective and courage. He wants us to endure well, allowing Him to use our circumstances to reveal the love of God to ourselves and to others. 

So, with this in mind, finishing a project becomes secondary to being aware of God’s presence in our days and letting His love flow in us and to others. 

Does that mean that I sit still all day? No, absolutely not. But it does mean that each task, each project, each item on the to-do list opens up to a deeper agenda of love. If I’m going to make dinner, my goal is not to put my head down and get the job done, my goal becomes to know God in the midst of making dinner, and be curious as to what He is saying to me and through me as I interact with others who walk through the kitchen. This is a sacred moment. It might mean that it is quiet, or noisy, or hilarious or a serious conversation may evolve with one of my kids. And especially, if the task is more difficult because of pain, then I must be open to the fact that my insecurities may be on edge, my patience may be thin, and my expectations may be out of size. These are the moments where God loves to intervene and flow his grace in and around conversations like a swirling, refreshing wind. We might see a delicious dinner as the best goal of the moment, but God has more satisfying and fulfilling outcomes just around the corner from our view. Watch for it. Wait for it. He does powerful things when we feel at our weakest. He surprises us with kindness and love and patience when we feel we have none.

Living with pain doesn’t give us an excuse to be a pain to others. Let’s be people who give a glimpse of the amazing love of Jesus through our weaknesses. 

I DO have energy for that!

Attached is a poster of quotes and verses. (Click on it first, then you can download and print.) Let your thinking become renewed and refreshed by a change of focus.