Our church staff gathers once a week to share and pray over personal needs. My request stemmed from yesterday’s steroid shot in my thumb joint, asking God to grant that pain be kept at bay for at least a year . . . the last one made it only a few months.

Afterwards my pastor and I stopped to talk about several deep needs within our congregation, sharing thoughts about how God enters into our darkest days. How God draws near in whatever depths of life we may find ourselves.

As we finished, my pastor graciously acknowledged my joint-causing pain issues, offering concern and support. I acknowledged God’s strength and my determination to keep going as long as God provides. But oh, the next words I’m afraid tumbled out without any thought and with a bit of pride, the joint shot? It has to work, I have too much to do!

Turning to leave, and I think with a bit of a grin, he finished our conversation, but if it {pain} stays, it will only cause you to be more dependent God.

I headed out to my car, wondering if our uncharacteristically bitter cold February air or his words stung the most . . . oh to be sure, I know the truth in that he said.

I know the platitudes about how God uses, some would go so far as causes, hard circumstances in our lives to shape us. And I know from experience that, when given to Him, God can use the things of this life to mold us. To make us malleable for Kingdom work in this world. To flatten our pride. To give us a platform from which to share with a hurting world how suffering doesn’t have to be for naught . . . or forever . . . how there is an eternity to come which beckons our presence in a way that can overpower the things of this earth.

So this day, Anne, which will it be . . . absolute dependence on and trust in the One who created my hand and thumb joints, who knew me before I took breath in this world, and who promised never to abandon or forsake me?

Or . . . a life of running ahead in my waning strength, chafing against hard things, dreading pain-filled days, always wondering how I will be able to get everything done?

Today, this day, I answer . . . I choose to stand in my belief that God is near. That God is with me every minute of every day, whatever my days may bring. I trust God will provide strength for the tasks He asks of me. And trust that whether healing does or doesn’t come, God will be enough.

And with a heart of gratitude for undeserved grace, I hear God’s voice. I feel His comfort. I soak in His presence. And I consciously put myself into a place of dependence on God.