Chronic or Acute?

clockIt’s currently 12:55am where I live, and I’m up again, not because I’m not tired (because I am), but because I’m hurting again… or should I say still? For the past year and a half to two years, I have lived with chronic, constant pain, and now I’m unable to work because of it. I went to bed at 10:00pm last night, thoroughly exhausted, and quickly fell asleep, as my eyes wouldn’t stay open, only to awaken at 12:17am, hurting and in pain. I tossed and turned for several minutes, finally giving up somewhere around 12:35am, and here I am.

I don’t share all of that to make you feel sorry for me… Please don’t, because I have much to be grateful for. Rather, I’m sharing all of that, not knowing where this is going, because I was reading a friend’s response to something that I had written, and she used the word chronic, and my mind and my heart started churning, and I was compelled to write. I truly hadn’t planned to write anything, but I felt an urgency within to write, so here I am.

I looked up the word chronic at dictionary.com, and this is how it was defined:

  1. constant; habitual; inveterate: a chronic liar.
  2. continuing a long time or recurring frequently: a chronic state of civil war.
  3. having long had a disease, habit, weakness, or the like: a chronic invalid.
  4. (of a disease) having long duration ( opposed to acute ).

This is a word that many people use frequently… perhaps chronically, in reference to our habits, our weaknesses, and yes, even our pain. But I wonder… do we ever stop to think about what we’re saying, when we use it?

For example, when I tell you that I have chronic pain, I’m telling you that I hurt constantly, but it’s not the chronic pain that keeps me from finding rest, because the Lord has made His people very resilient. Those of us who have chronic pain learn to live with it, like it or not. We adjust to it, and we continue with our lives, learning to survive. We learn the things that help us cope with the pain. For example, when I sleep, I keep a pillow between my legs to help relieve some of the pressure from my back, thus decreasing the pain that runs from my back to my legs. I’ve learned that when I go to the store, I need to use a cart and lean on that for support… For me, sitting is more tolerable than standing or laying… These are the ways that the Lord has given me to cope with the pain, in addition to pain medication, which I hate having to take.

Regardless, it isn’t the chronic pain that awakened me from a dead sleep, because my body has grown accustomed to that. I was hurting before I went to bed… It hurt when I climbed the stairs to go to bed… I was in pain when I fell asleep, so the chronic pain didn’t awaken me. The problem happened when at some point, while I was sleeping, my chronic pain became acute pain, which is defined this way by dictionary.com:

  1. sharp or severe in effect; intense: acute sorrow; an acute pain.
  2. extremely great or serious; crucial; critical: an acute shortage of oil.
  3. (of disease) brief and severe ( opposed to chronic ).

So why am I sharing all of this? The Lord just quickened my spirit and I started thinking about the way we use these words in reference to our lives, and when I share this with you, I want you to know that this word came to me, because I’m the chief among sinners. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone but myself. If Holy Spirit chooses to prick your conscience, know that He pricked mine first. Also, please understand, this is a message for Christians, because common sense tells us that those who are of this world will live and behave as the world does, but we who are not of this world are supposed to be holy, set apart.

http://www.lundbeck.com/us/our-commitment/community-involvement/raise-your-hand
http://www.lundbeck.com/us/our-commitment/community-involvement/raise-your-hand

Since surrendering your life to Christ, how many of you have ever thought or said, “I sin constantly… or I’m a chronic sinner… or I struggle with unbelief constantly… or I have chronic unbelief?” That big hand in the front is mine… Some people even quite piously say, “I’m a sinner saved by grace… or the only difference between me and the rest of the world is that I’m forgiven.” Ouch. Those last two statements have come from my mouth countless times…

Here is what the Lord just spoke to my heart… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV) Do you understand the importance of this? Let me break it down for you… First of all, I’m not a sinner saved by grace… I was a sinner saved by grace. And if the only difference between me and the rest of the world is that I’m forgiven, then I make God a liar, because His word says that I’m a new creation. I’m different now… I’m not the same as everyone else… I’m not even the same person that I once was.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ… what does that mean? Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from Me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. Anyone who parts from Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you stay joined to Me and My words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to My Father.

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. When you obey Me, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father and remain in His love.” (John 15:1-10 NLT)

Brothers and sisters, if we remain or abide in Christ, we should be producing good fruit. Do you understand this? We need to ask ourselves what kind of fruit we’re bearing, because if I chronically sin, or if I walk in chronic unbelief, then Houston, we have a problem…

So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict.  But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another. (Galatians 5:16-26 NLT)

Brothers and sisters, we need to ask ourselves what kind of fruit we’re bearing, because if we’re not producing a harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then we are not abiding in Christ, and apart from Him, we can do nothing. His words, not mine. Further, if I’m living with chronic sin… if I’m constantly, chronically sinning (and unbelief is sin – So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. {Hebrews 11:6 NLT}), then I’m not abiding in Christ and I’m not walking in His Spirit.

Do you remember that I told you that I’ve learned to tolerate my chronic pain? Well, the fact is that when we chronically sin, we learn to tolerate that as well. We even justify it to ourselves so that we won’t feel bad about it by saying things like, “Well, God knows my heart,” or “At least I’m not as bad as so and so…” Brothers and sisters, if your conscience isn’t pricked when you sin, or if you find yourself justifying your sins, because they’re only “little sins”, you need to cry out to God for mercy.

Our God is not a God of sloppy grace. Yes, He is full of mercy and compassion. Yes, He is a God of grace, but don’t kid yourself when you say, “Well, God knows my heart,” because you’re right. He does know our hearts, and this is what He has to say about that, The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I know! I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT) 

You see, the word of the Lord says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV) Do you understand what this means?

If you abide in Christ, you’re a new creation. You’re not supposed to be the same way you’ve always been. No more, “Well this is just the way I am,” or “I’m just being real.” If you’re just “keeping it real” as you sin, then you’re not being true to yourself.

What would you think if I told you that my Aunt Bertha passed away? You’d think she was dead, right? Well, when we come to Christ, those old sinful things that we used to participate in, should be dead. We should not be living in chronic sin. Indeed, if we truly are in Christ, we cannot live in chronic sin, because that part of our lives died the instant we were born again, and everything became new.

Does this mean that we’ll never again mess up? No, as long as we have flesh, we will have times of struggle, but we should be winning the battles most of the time, and this is where the acute pain that I talked about comes in. Remember, I said that I’ve learned to live with the chronic pain… I’ve learned to tolerate it, but there are times, when the pain becomes acute, and it is very disturbing. It causes me great distress.

When I sin against God, no matter how big or small the sin is, because God hates all sin, it should cause me acute pain. As a new creation, sin, my sin and the sin of others, should be very disturbing, very distressing. When I or someone else struggles with sin, including unbelief, it should be so discomforting, that I am unable to rest… much as I am unable to rest tonight, because of my acute pain.

http://mancrohns.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/wongbaker.gif
http://mancrohns.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/wongbaker.gif

So I ask you brothers and sisters, where do you stand on the pain scale? Is your sin chronic (constant, but tolerable) or acute (not often, but causes great discomfort and distress when it occurs)?

My prayer for each one of us, (yes, I need to pray about this for myself too), is that God would search our hearts, and show us where we stand on this sin scale. Am I waging war against sin? Or have I learned to tolerate it? Search us (me) O God, and know our (my) hearts. Try (me) us and know our (my) anxious thoughts, and see if there is any wicked way in us (me), and lead us (me) in the everlasting way. Lord, let us (me) be loving of others, but intolerant of sin. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

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