Saturday, October 7, 2017

Pain in the Chest: What do you do?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
—Colossians 3:12-14 NIV

I can still feel that pain in the center of my chest every time I cough, sneeze, or pick up my grandbaby—even though the injury occurred well over a month ago.

I was working on establishing a regular exercise routine, which included daily low-impact aerobics. One day when my 4-year-old granddaughter joined me in exercising, I found it difficult to keep from stepping on her and quickly adjusted my footing, twisting my ankle in the process. My podiatrist prescribed an anti-inflammatory and a period of rest—no more aerobics. But upper-body exercise was not off limits.

That’s how I found myself in the kayak on a beautiful afternoon in August. My friend, Michael, joined me, and we rented the boats for an hour—an hour that passed all too quickly. Before we knew it, we had overstayed our limit and had to hurry back to shore. I reached the launch first, then turned around to see Michael way behind. I was worried about getting out of the kayak and putting pressure on my injured foot. Although Michael had assured me he would help, just sitting there waiting on him seemed silly. With both hands, I gripped the sides of the boat and attempted to lift my body. At that moment, something popped in the center of my chest, shooting severe pain straight through me. Tears stung my eyes. I couldn’t move.

A trip to the doctor revealed a rib sprain. For days, the pain was so excruciating that even the tiniest movement caused me to cry out. My foot injury became non-existent because the pain in my chest was so great.

Sometimes I think we all need a pop in the chest. We go through life concerned with our own walk—our worries, desires, ups and downs, and forks along the way. Should we step out in this direction or that direction? We focus on our feet and finding the quickest way to reach our goals. We become so absorbed in the process that we may overlook the needs of others, sidestepping them like obstacles in our path. Maybe we need a wake-up call—a pop in the chest, a heartache for others.

Lately, our world has been ravaged by destruction and our country divided by hatred and political agendas. People have lost loved ones, homes, and everything they own. You can see the pain in their eyes as their faces flash across the television screen. Can you feel the pain in your chest?

When Jesus walked this earth, He felt it.

“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14 NASB).

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things” (Mark 6:34 NIV).

Jesus recognized the needs of the hurting and reached out with compassion. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and taught the confused.

What can you do? The pain is great; the needs are overwhelming. Where to start? Maybe that obstacle in your path—that interruption in your day—is a great place.

It’s time to get dressed.

“…Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12).

It’s time to put aside our differences.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col. 3:13).

It’s time to unite in love.

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col. 3:14).

It’s time for a heart that aches for others and feet that are moved with compassion.

Dear Father, thank You for sending Jesus to a lost world. May we follow His example in reaching beyond our differences to extend a heart of compassion to the hurting. Most of all, let love guide our lives, so we will live together in perfect harmony. Amen. 

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