Since 8th grade, I’ve had a spinal condition called scoliosis.  Basically that means my spine did not grow in a completely straight line.  The muscles on one side developed in such a way that they pulled the back into a curve.  For ten months of my 14th year, I wore a back brace 20 hours a day.  It stabilized my rib cage and helped prevent further curvature.  Thankfully I have suffered relatively little back discomfort throughout my adult life.

However, there are days I am reminded that my back is not normal.  Some random move I make or circumstance I encounter will trigger a spasm that can cause ongoing pain for days or even weeks.  During those times, sitting becomes difficult.  I can walk and I can lay down, but chairs are not my friends. 

Three weeks ago, I got a little too zealous on my exercise ball and pulled my back out again.  It’s been at least two years since I’ve felt that pain.  Back to physical therapy, my heating pad, and the couch.

A dear friend of mine from church also has scoliosis.  She struggles with back pain much more frequently than I do.  As it turned out, we both went into a particularly painful place at about the same time.  Misery truly does love company, and we comforted each other with promises of prayer and with the kind of compassion that only people who have been there can share. 

One morning I flipped open my email to discover a message from her.  She was sharing her pain and how she saw this time of suffering as a “growing opportunity.”  I thought about my own reaction over the past few days and realized that it was pretty easy for me to let my pain become just the opposite – a “groaning opportunity!”  I'm so thankful for her email and the way God used it to open my eyes.  How would He have me respond? 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks…    

Like my friend, I can embrace this season of rest and therapy as a growing time.  A time to rejoice, pray, and be thankful.  God has blessed me with good health in so many other areas.  He has gifted me with friends who truly understand when I’m hurting and a husband who comes alongside to help me in the daily tasks of life.  And He has graciously met my needs – medically, emotionally, and spiritually -- when those needs grow greater during times like this.    

Dear Lord,

Please help me grow rather than groan.  Help me see You working all things together for good.  Give me patience in the pain and a thankful spirit for all Your provisions.