Reflections From The Treadmill #8

by Karen Pullano
This is my last lenten post on suffering. Thank you for journeying along with me and I hope you have been encouraged. Stay tuned for more Wisdom from the treadmill! Is there a 5k in my near future perhaps?
CrossTreadmill
Pruning

After six weeks of running on the treadmill it seems that I have a knee ‘issue.’ I’m not sure if it’s officially an injury, but what started as screaming rebellion from many of my joints has now settled into nagging, persistent pain and swelling solely in my right knee. I am trying to get in better shape here, not worse, so it is a little disappointing to have to baby it all the time, but strangely, I am ok with it. As annoying as it is, I feel like it was a necessary price to pay to get myself moving. I wasn’t moving otherwise, so I clearly needed to take drastic measures. I can live with the knee pain if it means far more important gains.

I think God allows and uses our trials and sufferings to prune us if we allow Him to. What feels like a casualty or loss is often necessary in order for new growth to happen. Our sufferings turn us more fully to our need for Him, which is always a far greater good than anything we can suffer here. I don’t exactly like this physical change with my knee but I do like the newfound stamina, muscle tone, and endurance I have gained. Spiritually, we can Trust the Lord to prune us in such a way that we are thankful for the new creations we can and will become, but it takes obedience and acceptance first. If we continue to cry over what we think we have lost, we are in danger of missing the fruit God is trying to grow in us.

I look to my own life, at the loss of my 4 year-old son, and I could question all day long why God let that happen. I remember vividly one particular moment during his illness. I was hiding in my bathroom for some private crying time and, looking back, I can clearly see that I had no acceptance in my heart whatsoever. I was desperately begging God to just let Mikey live and then I would change myself and my life in a million awesome ways. A week or so later, when we got some hopeful news, the first thought that popped into my head was, “Thank God, let’s get back to our regular life.” I hadn’t actually accepted that changes were necessary and good, rather I was focused solely on the outcome I desired. I guess if that weren’t human nature, we would never need pruning. It is only the result of our tremendous freedom and the choices we have made throughout human history that we experience suffering. It is never God’s will. On the contrary, I know the heart of Jesus was broken right along with mine when my son died. Jesus wept with me. His Mother was my constant companion. They both taught me what they knew from experience. All things are being made new.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2)
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Reflections From the Treadmill #3

By Karen Pullano

To read from the beginning click HERE

CrossTreadmill

Be Not Afraid

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil….

After the first week of running I realized my body was seriously rebelling. Everything hurt and things were swollen. I have been stretching, and icing, and stretching some more, of course, but that only does so much good. I noticed I was approaching that treadmill with something akin to fear. I knew it was going to feel like the longest 30 minutes of my life and my heart would start pounding with dread before I even took a step. I tried not to think about it and obediently jumped on with determination to meet my goal.

In contemplating the cross on the wall before me, I thought of Jesus in the garden and how much fear and dread must have filled Him at the prospect of temporal and bodily torture. It was a solid act of His will to choose obedience in suffering for the greater good. Jesus went willingly to His torture. You might wonder, as I did, how in the world He was able to go willingly. He was living in a fully human capacity and had all the supernatural help that you and I would have, yet he chose obedience to His Father’s will. I can’t pretend to know the depths of what Jesus experienced in the garden, of course, but the psalmist gives the simple answer as to how I have been able to obediently accept my own crosses. “…I shall fear no evil, for you are with me.”
Jesus knew that in a very deep and real way. This is why we are counseled throughout the scriptures to Be Not Afraid. God is with us and goes before us in every suffering. Let Him be your shepherd. Let His rod and His staff be your comfort.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Ps 23:4-6)

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