Up until that moment, I had no idea how good a tooth-ache could feel! I was recovering from knee surgery, the result of a bad fall in a collegiate basketball game. The surgery was extensive, and to make matters worse I was in a full leg cast. Even with the prescribed meds, I was in constant pain. I knew the pain was bad, but it wasn’t until I came down with a toothache that I realized just how bad it was. I was overjoyed with the relatively mild pain of the toothache! I had a new measure for pain from that day forward.
Not long after running a marathon, a teenager at church asked me at what point in the 26.2 mile race I started getting tired. I said it was around the 18 mile mark. His startled reaction was pregnant with insight! He couldn’t imagine running 18 miles without getting tired. I had to quickly point out to him that “tired” is a relative term. Long distance running teaches you there are different kinds of tired, and many levels of tired. Ever since that marathon, being tired has taken on new dimensions!
Since I grew up on a farm, I had no choice but to learn to work. When Dad said to do something, I obeyed; generally without argument or complaint! Over the years he gave me thousands of jobs to complete; some were enjoyable, some were miserable, and most were in between. But I’ll never forget the day he sent me to harvest a field of oats. Even though the oat field would only take me a half day to cut, after only 15 minutes of harvesting, I wondered if I would be able to finish it. I found out quickly that I was extremely allergic to oat dust! I itched and scratched so much it was a miracle I had even one hand available to operate the harvester! For several agonizing hours I squirmed and scratched, fearful I might not be able to finish what Dad had sent me to do. I did finish however, and my obedience to Dad jumped to an entirely new level.
I’ve also noticed that being “broke” is a relative term. Nothing in the cabinets to eat broke, to we can’t go on vacation broke. What may be poverty to one, may be plenty to another. So, how should we reference our experiences anyway? Can we live long enough to truly understand them? Is there a helpful standard by which we can appropriately measure our experiences?
Consider when God walked in our shoes and died on our cross. Christ experienced pain (Golgotha), He knew tired (the Via Dolorosa), He learned obedience (Phil. 2:8 and Heb.5:8), and He experienced poverty (2 Cor.8:9). In light of Christ’s experiences on our behalf, it’s safe to say I still haven’t learned much of anything about anything; and it only seems appropriate that I should glorify Him more and grumble much less.
Bruce Hendrich is the Pastor at Oak Street Baptist Church 804 Oak Street • Elizabethon, TN 37643 • 423.542.4022 • oakstreetbaptist.net