I’ve been suffering from migraines the past few weeks and while they hurt, and sometimes hurt a lot, I bear with them. It seems like any time I go into a period of extended migraines, I learn something more about God or more about what God is looking for from me. I know that to some that would sound crazy, but the pain helps me push a lot of things to the side that aren’t so important but that get in my way. As a result, I become more focused on the things that I should be focused on. And from that I learn a lot. It has happened every time.
When I think about how I came to Christ, it was in the midst of pain. My left shoulder was shredded. And I was just beginning to understand how badly I had re-injured it. I accepted Christ and the only thing I could do to stave off the pain was read the Bible. My girlfriend (now my wife) Kimberly bought it for me to celebrate my finally yielding to Jesus’ lordship over my life. It was a good way to start a new walk with Christ. I started at the beginning and I would read and read and read. My school work suffered, but then again, I couldn’t hold a pencil to write, I couldn’t clear my head of the pain long enough to get anything useful out of my textbooks, and I was miserable. The only time I could escape the pain was when I was reading Scripture. The pain became so unbearable that I couldn’t sleep much at night, so I began reading more and more. I learned a lot in a very short time. And I developed a thirst for seeing the Old Testament fulfilled in the New Testament. As a result, I considered that period one of the best of my life, in spite of the pain. Not only had He called me to Himself, but He had arranged circumstances where I was left with little else but to get to know Him better.
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me–to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NASB
Paul had some sort of painful part of his life, some thorn of his flesh. He called it a messenger of Satan and exactly what was meant by that has been debated quite a bit about theologians. I’ll just state it simply that I don’t know what he meant. It could have been a demon that plagued him or some aspect of his fleshly nature that caused him great temptation or it could have been actual pain that he could do little about. What it was specifically doesn’t matter. What does matter is Paul recognized that whatever it was, it drew his focus back to God. It opened him up so he would listen to God, so he would lean on God, and so he would trust in God’s grace and power and not his own.
My pain, especially when I have extended migraines, have served me in the same stead. My migraine ended sometime between Saturday night when I went to sleep and Sunday morning when I got up. Through that time I did a lot of reading. I came to the realization and understanding that I need to do more to intentionally walk my boys down the path to becoming godly men. Yes, I’ve taught them a lot informally in the home and formally through various children’s and youth ministries within the Church. Yes, they get a good foundation from what we do in our homeschool curriculum. But none of that specifically addresses how to raise these boys to be the men God wants them to be. My oldest is 12. He becomes a teenager in less than a year. Now my steps towards his education and his walk must be intentional, planned, and disciplined. That’s what God was showing me with that bout of migraines. Obviously there’s something else for me to learn. Why do I say that, other than it’s the obvious? That’s because my migraines started back up Sunday morning just a few hours after I woke up. But because I’m cognizant that this is what is God is after, pushing aside the distractions and focusing on Him, I’ll suffer through them. I know the reward is well worth it.
Now, if I was telling a young Christian how to better hear God, I wouldn’t say, “Well, you start by getting kicked in the head diving on a soccer ball,” which is how my migraines started. Nor would I say, “Well, find something that hurts, and try to listen to God through it.” None of that is Biblical. I would say, “You need to seek after Him. You do need to want to hear from Him. You do need to put your focus on Him, and He will reveal Himself to You. His Word will speak to you. Your prayers will receive an answer. He will get through to you. And pay attention to what He says!” It’s not important the method God uses. In my case, I have a thick skull so maybe migraines are the best way for Him to get my attention. I don’t know. But what I do know is that’s it is important to want to hear from Him. It is important to be prepared to hear from Him (and part of that means being ready to listen). And when we do hear something, we need to take it and test it against the light of Scripture. If it doesn’t match up, it wasn’t our Heavenly Father that we heard from.
Are you looking to hear from God? Are you willing to do it His way, whatever that may be? I hope so. Because if you are, He will reach out to you. He will speak to you. And it will be something you need to hear. It will be something that will likely mean you have to make adjustments in life. You must be willing to do so. That’s His reason for talking to you in the first place. He wants to change your life, and change it for the better.