My neighbor, Gracie Rosenberger, is an incredible lady. She fell asleep at the wheel when she was 17 and barely survived the horrific crash. In the years since, she has had both her legs amputated, undergone over 70 surgeries, and pretty much lives her life in excruciating pain. Yet she is truly one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. She refuses to let her disability become a handicap.
Gracie recently released a book called “Gracie (Standing with Hope)” with her husband Peter, and together they chronicle their journey of grace, doubt, and God’s faithfulness through it all. It’s an amazing story. There is a quote from Gracie in the book that just about knocked me over. Keep in mind, this is a woman who lives her life in a constant state of pain. Here’s the quote,
“Pain relief is not a worthy life goal.”
Now, Gracie would be the first person to say, “I’m no hero,” but that quote, spoken by a woman who has suffered so much, is heroic.
And it made me think. I’m thinking about all the people who have made pain relief their life’s goal. Maybe not physical pain, but emotional and spiritual pain. I’m thinking of all the people who medicate themselves with alcohol, drugs, and other substances, all in pursuit of pain relief. I’m thinking of the young people who cut themselves to relieve their pain, the affairs and broken marriages, the sexual addictions. We have tried many medicines, but found no cure.
I’m also thinking of myself. Is that the extent of my life’s goal, to not hurt? I might not turn to something as obvious as alcohol or drugs, but I’m avoiding pain in every way I can. I’ve been afraid to try new things and take risks because I fear the pain of failure. Pain relief has driven me to waste countless hours in mindless entertainment and frivolity. Pain relief has caused me to hold back in my relationships out of fear of intimacy. Pain relief has caused me to disobey God, because His calling requires opening myself up to ridicule and rejection.
How about you? Is your life an elaborate web of pain relief? Has it become your life’s goal just to avoid pain? What might happen if you took that risk and opened yourself up to what God really has for you? Paul faced the same dilemma in Philippians 3,
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
There is no “power of His resurrection” without the “fellowship of His sufferings.” There is no gaining Christ without the loss of everything else. There is no resurrection without being conformed to His death. Paul understood the pain that might be involved, but found the reward worth the risk, the gain worth the loss, the life worth the dying.
Maybe it’s time we come up with a life goal greater than pain relief.
Peter and Gracie Rosenberger have a foundation called “Standing with Hope.” It helps to provide prosthetic limbs to amputees in Africa. If you’d like to help with their great work or find out more about it, go to www.standingwithhope.com