Daily Devotions

Lighten our Load

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Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:13)

As we move further into Advent, we are called to make new beginnings. One of those new beginnings is to lighten the load in our soul. Gustavo Razzetti writes a challenging article, “Forgiving Is Hard, but Not Forgiving Hurts More.” In this article, Razzetti points out, “Science shows that forgiving is good for your health.” Too often, we feel as if forgiveness is a way to let the perpetrator off the hook. No, forgiveness is the way to let their bad actions off the hook within our soul, and once unhooked by forgiveness, our soul becomes instantly lighter.

Paul Boese states, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” We forgive, not for the benefit of the other person nearly as much as we do for ourselves. The necessity for forgiveness is again found in science. Razzetti found, “From 1998 to 2005 the number of empirical studies on the topic [of forgiveness] have increased from 58 to 950.” This shows that even within the scientific community, forgiveness is central to a meaningful life.

These scientific studies confirm that “Holding a serious grudge raises our blood pressure and increases our chances of a heart attack. Unforgiveness intensifies mental problems, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders.” Even the scientific community has proven that forgiveness is an activity for oneself, not primarily for the other person. 

Today, pray for God to dive directly into our souls and clean out the anger, resentment, and bitterness. Ask God to help us forgive those who have hurt us deeply. With God’s assistance, forgiveness will be a reality. By remembering that doing so, doesn’t let the other person off the hook, but lightens our load, gives us permission to forgive without feeling weak. Say that prayer today and start walking with a lighter bounce in your step.

 

Living Large with Pain

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He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

I share a struggle with 50 million others in our country: Chronic pain. Just to get through each day, I take three or four mild pain pills. My pain regiment is carefully monitored under a physician’s care. I am fortunate, because I have a doctor who I believe really cares about me and my situation. I am also blessed with good health insurance. So many people are less fortunate. This devotion is my way of reaching out to those of you who live every day with pain that saps our energy and tries to kill our joy.

Retired psychiatrist and fellow pain sufferer, Judith Brice, describes the social pain that often accompanies physical pain. “Even so, our society prizes being fit, flexible, and fast. Those of us who differ, who fall outside the bounds of ‘normal’ and look different or need special help or stand out because of our disability - we, the slow and lame - resent it. Even if we wish to, we can no longer slide in unnoticed among our peers.” Brice continues, “The disability of pain uproots us.” 

If you are the one with pain, or the friend, neighbor, or loved one is the one in pain, it is time to recognize that pain is alienating. Rather than struggle, enjoying time with others, you feel guilty for slowing everyone else down. You stop doing things you’ve always loved. When your activities change, relationships often change as well. Physical pain is often accompanied by emotional and social pain. Now, that is hurting all over!

What you can do, as the one in pain, is to not give up. Be realistic about your limitations, but do not stop stretching to accomplish as much as you can, even if it means putting on the ice when you are done. For the friend or loved one, remember to bring along your patience. Schedule moments of relaxation during an event. Rather than place the person with pain at the mall bench, while the rest of you go shopping, sit with them and when the person is ready, all go together. Keeping the same routine with the one in pain is a huge gift, because it makes the person feel “normal,” and like anyone else. 

Today, ask God to give the person in pain the courage and determination to keep moving forward. Pray for the Spirit’s determination to keep us stretching to do just a little more. Pray for the Spirit to give us the ability to never give up. Keep going to the doctor(s), until you’ve found the very best care for you. Do not let embarrassment keep you from having a life. Finally, be nice to your friends and loved ones by telling them what you need, to make it possible to join in activities. I think you will find, most of the time, people you care about will do what they can to help you participate. Prayer and honesty goes a long way to keeping your life meaningful even amidst the pain.

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