I carried my piano tuning case into the nursing home and headed to the grand piano in the dining room. It was inherently noisy in there, but breakfast time was less crowded than lunch time, so I always tuned it first thing.
I set up my tools, inserting the long, ribbon felt mute in between the strings, and began to work. Usually, when there are people within hearing distance, I stand up and make a preemptive announcement:
“I apologize right now for the noise as I tune the piano, but it will sound beautiful in a couple of hours!”
Often I’d even promise to “play something pretty” when I finished, as I always do (whether anyone is listening or not), since it’s my way of testing my work — and it’s the reward that follows the tortuous process of turning something ugly into something beautiful.
“STOP! That’s enough!” The elderly woman snarled at me.
I realized the poor woman was “a few bricks shy of a load”, as my daddy would have described it, so I gave her an empathetic look and a brief apology. I didn’t dare try to explain to her that I was only on the fourth string, and had over two hundred more to go!
What I really wanted to add was, “This hurts me much more than it hurts you!” But I resisted.
The grumpy lady who complained of the dissonance of unmatched strings has no idea what’s required to make it beautiful again. She doesn’t know that I’ve had both shoulders repaired with rotator cuff surgeries, and both hands operated on with carpel tunnel issues exacerbated by tuning. She has no idea how much time and money I spend at the chiropractor dealing with pain caused by tuning pianos. She only knows… that this noisy process is making her uncomfortable for the moment. (I’m not complaining, only endeavoring to make a point.)
How often do we, as humans, cry out in anger and frustration when life gets difficult? We often have no idea of the spiritual warfare going on in the invisible world, often the cause of what we see in the physical world. We momentarily forget that Jesus suffered an excruciating death on the cross (and still has scars in His hands, feet and side, even in Heaven) to purchase our pardon – that we could be made right with a Holy God Who cannot allow sin into Heaven.
Hurricane #Maria just devastated Puerto Rico, just as people in the Bahamas, Florida and the Carolinas are digging themselves out following #Irma. Only four weeks ago, Hurricane #Harvey ravaged Texas. I, like many of you, have dear friends affected by each of these nightmares. There seems to be no end of natural disasters, and we often feel helpless.
In our personal lives, I’ve recently attended four funerals of close friends (or spouses of close friends), most of whom seemed “much too young to die”. Grief threatens to swallow us like relentless flood waters.
King David in Psalms felt this way, and wrote words in Psalm 121, 123 and 124 that echo the human heartache. One month after losing our oldest son to suicide, I tearfully recorded a song from these scripture passages. I pray it comforts you! (You may listen and download the song for FREE here: “Have Mercy on Us / What a Friend” )
Pain and misery are inevitable. Usually the process of “fine-tuning” our lives and characters makes us uncomfortable at the least, and downright miserable in some instances. Pride goes before a fall, and I’ve fallen flat on my face more times than I can count.
Although our difficulties are often the result of our own bad choices (the Bible calls this “sin”), many heartaches and devastation come merely as a result of living in this “fallen world”. Romans 8: 18-24 describes how all of creation- including humankind, groans in agony, awaiting the moment when Jesus returns and makes everything right.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation… in the hope that … creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the first fruits — we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved…” (From Romans 8: 18-24, HCSB)
The Apostle Paul, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God to write the above words, suffered terribly from “a thorn in the flesh”. He pleaded with God three times to remove it from him, to no avail. God only replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul understood that this ailment (likely his eyesight, but we don’t know for sure) was to keep him from becoming conceited about the divine revelations of the future that God had given him. Finally, Paul realized and determined to “…boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (See 2nd Cor. 12: 7-9)
Psalm 66: 8-12 is one of many passages describing the refining, purifying purpose of affliction.
8 Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of His praise be heard, 9 Who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. 10 For You, O God, have tested us; You have tried us as silver is tried. 11 You brought us into the net; You laid a crushing burden on our backs; 12 You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
Pain can give us purpose & passion, or poisonous pessimism; depends on our response. #InspiringHopeBlog #GodGivesPurpose Click To Tweet
Psalm 119: 66-68 is very honest and telling, as King David admits the reality that every human being faces.
66 Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments. 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word. 68 You are good and do good; Teach me Your statutes.…
I KNOW you’ll be uplifted by our brand new LEGACY OF FAITH CD! Over 500 voices plus orchestra! I was honored to sing the solo on the last song, “What if It Were Today?” Watch:
So what about now? How do we get through this? For those who trust in Christ Jesus, here is God’s promise from Revelation chapter 21:
“They will be his people, and God himself … will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (NIV)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we pray for Your comfort and help for those suffering today, from hurricanes or heartaches or health issues. Pour Your comfort through loving people who can empathize and assist the downtrodden, because we’ve been there ourselves, and experienced Your divine comfort. (2nd Corinthians 1:3-4). Shine Your light of love and hope into dark places through every atrocity, and illuminate the splendor of eternal life with You, in a world with no more pain. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.