An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules (2 Timothy 2:5)
Have you ever embarked on the adventure of a new game? The instructions begin: “The object of the game is to . . .” win the most cards. Lose the most cards. Make it first to the finish line. End up with the most coconuts. Draw the most laughs.
I’m on my back with a sprained shoulder I injured in a spill at the beach. (Read Raise Up a Standard here.) X-rays at the orthopedics office revealed that my collar bone is separated from my sternum. I’m in so much pain, when I stretch to slip on the sleeve of a sweater, a butcher’s knife rips through my shoulder. Ice packs send shivers down my torso, bringing on fillet knives, effectively doubling the pain. Eeyore-shaped storm clouds brew overhead.
A two-word prayer: “God. Ouch.”
“I see your pain,” He replied. “But what’s the object of the game?”
Then He brought to mind a Monopoly board. Did you know that more than 275 million Monopoly games have been sold worldwide and it’s available in 111 countries in 43 languages?
Like every board game, Monopoly, has a goal. When you played Monopoly as a teen, like me, were you determined to own Boardwalk and Park Place? To stack hotels one on top of the other so tall that you couldn’t see your opponents over their roofs?
But with the intense pain of my shoulder injury, the Lord has a different end in mind.
“The object of the game is to move from loser to winner in no time flat,” the Lord said.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re feeling sorry for yourself—as though you’ve lost. But you need to reframe your pain in terms of a win.”
“I’m in. What does that look like?”
He shared a few ways to frame intense pain in terms of victory:
- Pain is just a distraction. Don’t focus on the pain. Focus on the Holy Spirit’s presence. Fixing your eyes on His strategies and copying them is not cheating. It’s learning from the Master.
- Declare, “I can do all things through Christ, who gives ________ (insert your name) strength . . . and gives my friends strength, too.” When you ordered Rocky Road ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, have you ever bought one for a friend? Well, here’s your chance to treat him or her to a double-decker rainbow-sprinkle prayer. Say, “I declare wins for both of us. We’re in this together.”
- “With every problem comes a promise. And with every promise there’s a provision” (Graham Cooke). Celebrate pain, because, as Graham says, God does everything with intentionality. If that’s the case, then become ecstatic because you just bounced into the zone. Here are rich upgrades for the plucking.
- Quit calling obstacles “problems.” Instead call them “challenges.” See your situation with Papa’s eyes. He’s got a plan here and He’s joyful, no matter what. Your pain doesn’t influence His joy. In fact, hidden somewhere in your situation is a way to release His very joy. How? Ask Him!
What are some other “objects of the game” the Holy Spirit’s got for you when you’re feeling defeated?
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