Back To School

I’ve reluctantly signed up for a new course in the school of life.  I didn’t ask to take the class; I was suddenly pressured into it.  What I thought would take a few weeks has turned into a full semester.  I’ve joined a host of others who must study firsthand the problems of prolonged physical pain.

The class sessions are a little irregular.  Sometimes class begins at 2 in the morning, calling me sharply and noisily out of a deep sleep.  Other times it slowly interrupts a friend’s afternoon conversation.  But if its hours are irregular, its message is not.  Consistent pain takes few recesses.

Today when class was definitely in session I read from Proverbs:  “You are a poor specimen if you can’t stand the pressure of adversity” (24:10).

I thought, “O, Lord, I don’t want to be a poor specimen, but I’m weary and the pressures of pain are so constant.”

The course is teaching me that pain is monstrously conceited.  Pain stamps its foot and demands all my attention.  It’s hard to decide if I should have baked or mashed potatoes for dinner because pain holds my mind all wadded up in its tightly closed fist.

Pain also teaches the waiting game.  Wait for doctor’s appointments.  Wait for test results.  Wait for the medicine to take effect.  Wait to see if a new procedure will correct or change the problem.

Today my teacher gave an exam on patience.  I passed — but not because I was smart and had graduated to some upperclassman level of maturity.  Rather, because I went back to the text, found the right answer, and wrote it down:

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken.  We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit.  We are hunted down, but God never abandons us.  We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

At this writing I’m still in class.  I don’t like it, but I know God is in control.  I know the truth of hanging on, pressing forward, and running the race.  I will not give up or quit.  I am God’s child, but that does not mean I can skip or cut the classes on pain, so…

I thank You, Lord,

For whatever this class will be teaching.

It’s interesting to be this old and back in school again.

The semester is long, and I’m tired.

But your loving arms of strength are longer.

Help me keep that in mind until I graduate.

Joyce Landorf

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