“You Know Not What You Ask”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:22-24

Almighty God, Your love overwhelms me, Your compassion unmeasurable; crucify my flesh, my will, fill me with You that I would love more fully, help me to understand with Your compassion.  

Jesus, teach me to suffer long, to endure, to wait on You, to live at peace with Your timing, to practice temperance.  Help me to understand Your gift, the pain You willingly bore for me and for all who believe.  From this understanding, produce in me meekness, mercy, and charity. 

Holy Spirit, grant me goodness, for I go to the source.  Hold back my tongue, until Your fruit manifests from it.  Give me faith to see as You open doors of utterance that I may speak the mystery of the gospel with clarity and boldness.

“But Jesus answered and said, “You know not what you ask.”  Matthew 20:22a. 

Last Saturday I met a godly woman, married three years, who told me her husband has health problems and is in constant pain.  This pain is a terrible pain, not a dull throbbing pain, but an almost unspeakable pain that continually disrupts even basic living.  This was something her young husband lived with daily, making anything he tried to accomplish extremely difficult. 

My heart ached for her and her husband, but attempting to put myself in their shoes by imagining what life must be like was very hard to do.  It is very hard to know anything other than what I do know; I hardly know pain of any sort, and I do not know chronic pain at all.  I lack empathy because I lack experience.  Jesus, how hard it is to leave myself and experience even a bit of the depth of compassion that dwells within You.  Lord, give me compassion.  

“But Jesus answered and said, “You know not what you ask.” Matthew 20:22a

Early the next morning after meeting my new friend, on Sunday at 6:30 a.m., I suddenly felt a lot of pain in my stomach.  It continued throughout the day, much of the day I was alright but many times the pain was very intense.  I realized it was only constipation so I was determined to avoid the emergency room, however I found the pain unbearable late Sunday night.  The pain was so intense I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t pray, and I certainly couldn’t sleep; for hours I couldn’t think about anything other than the pain, and I couldn’t do anything other than moan and rock back and forth on the couch.  All I could do was endure for the time God allowed it to continue. 

While I was on the couch that night, Jesus graciously and continually brought to my mind that I know nothing about pain, but that others do know pain, and they know it routinely.  My heart ached more fully for those who are so acquainted with pain. 

He also reminded me that He isn’t the author of pain, but that it could be blamed on something which is nothing, the nothing which is the gap, the great separation between man between God, and that all of creation groans and will continue to groan until He restores all things. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22   My spirit is at peace with Christ even as my body is wasting away, separated from Him physically. 

God wasn’t chastising me that night, though He does chastise His children.  All I felt from God while rocking in pain was grace and purpose and answered prayer.  I was the one, after all, who asked for more understanding; I was the one who asked to be closer to Jesus, the One most acquainted with pain, the One most acquainted with the gap which He did not create. 

Corrie ten Boom’s father once said, “It is no easy thing to stand in the palm of God’s Hand”.  When pain is so severe it consumes, Lord, You cradle us in the palm of Your Hand.  We gain strength to endure by trusting You are at work, graciously producing in us good fruit which You will use for Your good purposes.  Love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, all these are good fruits sown by the Spirit and tilled by Christ.  Praise be to the One who will return to reap His harvest.

So, what do you think?