What If God Doesn’t Take The Pain Away?

Will you still praise Him?

I asked myself this question when I got stranded at a coffee shop yesterday. I was supposed to go home, but since the engine of my car did not start, I had no choice but to stay and wait for help. “No way, Lord. Not again! Another hurdle this month?” I felt annoyed and ashamed at the same time. But, God has always been patient in revealing impurities like this in me. As He is allowing me to go through these moments of brokenness, I see how He is also graciously sustaining me.

In the past month, I have struggled with two unexpected hurdles. I will be sharing more about them and what the Lord has been teaching me through them.

 

HURDLE #1: HEALTH

There is an infection (not contagious) in my body and it has been here for more than three weeks now. Despite me taking antibiotics, praying, and going through treatments, it still won’t go away! Aside from causing me pain, it also affected my usual activities. I needed to take a few leaves at work, postpone my exercise routine at the gym (Hello, monthly gym fee!) and my participation at a table tennis tournament. Managing my time, energy, and money as I recover from it has also been challenging for me. Each day, I hoped and prayed for the Lord to finally heal me. But for some reason, He still is letting me experience it, even as I am typing these words.

Through this, the Lord continues to remind me to trust in His character.

He is GOOD and He will always be good in every situation we’re in. By His grace, I started seeing His goodness through His provision. I realized that I didn’t need to spend for consultation fees or treatments outside because my parents (who are also doctors) can check up on me anytime at home. Also, I could have my medicines reimbursed at work, as part of the benefits for the employees. But, more than the physical aspect of this situation, each time my heart gets discouraged, the Lord continues to comfort me with His presence. He is with me. Through this weakness, by God’s grace, I find myself drawing closer to Him and Him drawing closer to me.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” –Isaiah 41:10

 

HURDLE #2: CAR TROUBLE

In my 11 years of driving, I have not experienced bumping another vehicle until last week. My stubborn self has always been distracted whenever I drive around, and this time, the Lord did not want me to escape the consequences of my actions. Unfortunately, I have learned the skill of putting on make-up, navigating through my phone, and organizing my bag WHILE driving. I can try to blame the luxury of time I have as I am usually stuck in traffic, but I can really only blame myself.

On my way to work last Monday, I was getting something from my bag on the passenger’s seat when I suddenly felt a loud bang in front of me. I bumped the back of a white van and I immediately felt a cold shiver in my body. The driver of the van went down and asked for my license as I sincerely apologized to him. He told me to meet him inside BGC so that we would not cause traffic along C5. As soon as we got to an emergency bay, he approached me and asked for a specific amount to pay for the damages I caused as he was already running late for work. I only had HALF of the amount with me at that time, so I asked if he could accept it instead. By God’s grace, the driver agreed to let me go, gave my license back, and received my cash payment. You could just imagine how embarrassed and humbled I was before God as I continued driving to our office.

Later that day, my manager and supervisor called me for a lunch meeting and the first thing they mentioned to me was: “Congratulations! We are promoting you! Yaaay!” The crazy thing about it was the amount of salary increase was the exact amount the driver was asking me to pay him earlier. Also, half of the salary increase was already credited to my account three days before the incident! God, in His perfect timing and sovereignty, graciously provided for me even before I got into an accident!

In this situation, I felt the Lord break me as He convicted me of the importance of obeying Him in the smallest things, even when no one is looking. The grace He showed me that day broke my heart even more and moved me to not only remove the distractions while I am driving, but also, to let go of the distractions that hinder me from honoring Him and seeking Him in my heart.

God used these two hurdles to speak to me in the recent weeks and I thought I had learned my lesson. But when I had another hurdle yesterday, the pride in my heart overflowed as I blurted out my frustration. “Lord, why do I feel like, even as I obey You, You still continue to break me? Is this how it’s supposed to be?” I went out of my car, walked back to the coffee shop, grumbled in my heart, and started worrying about the additional expenses for the car again. That was when I felt the Lord speak to me: “Nic, what if I don’t take the pain away? What if I keep letting you experience more hurdles? Will you still find it in your heart to praise Me?”

He then reminded me of Joseph’s testimony in the Bible and how he continued to seek and honor God in the highlights and hurdles of his life. He also reminded me of Jesus’ example and how He humbly surrendered His life to God, even though He is also Lord and King. My desire and ability to seek and obey the Lord comes from Him. It isn’t about me and it never will be. I asked for forgiveness from the Lord as I acknowledged the pride in my heart. The same God who was with Joseph then is still the same God today. What a comfort it is to know that He is good, Holy, faithful, sovereign, loving, and gracious. That He loves His children enough to discipline us, even if it means letting us experience brokenness again and again.

By God’s grace, my dad came to the rescue and helped me jumpstart the car. As soon as we got home, he also assisted me in having my car’s battery replaced that same day.

I share these things not to boast about anything except for His power and grace in my weaknesses. In whatever struggle we may go through, no matter how big or small, I pray that these verses would be real in our hearts and in our lives, for the glory of God.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” –Psalm 34:1

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Sharing with you a song I wrote recently, inspired by being broken before the Lord. I hope it encourages your heart to keep your eyes on Him!

Dough Not Give Up

Whenever our family would watch Junior Masterchef Australia, our jaws would drop every time a contestant would make the assigned dish. It was amazing to see how, even at a young age, each ‘chefling’ would finish well and produce excellent food. When the kids were assigned to make pasta, Anna, one of the hosts, said “Nothing beats fresh, homemade pasta. Once you taste fresh pasta, there’s no turning back.” I was intrigued by her statement and this actually led me to get my own pasta machine. By God’s grace, I attempted to make my very own homemade pasta.

homemade pasta dough
homemade pasta dough

Making homemade pasta involves these activities: kneading, resting, stretching, cutting, and cooking. When I was preparing myself for the process, I was thinking: “Really? There’s no turning back? This looks more complicated than just cooking ready-made pasta. Hahaha.” Little did I know, God was preparing my heart for something more interesting than learning how to make homemade pasta dough.

KNEADING THE DOUGH

I pressed the dough down and squished it continuously (for 8 to 10 minutes) until it had a smooth texture. Kneading the dough produces gluten which gives elasticity to it – this helps the cook stretch the dough and eventually make it into pasta.

kneading the dough

While kneading, it seemed like I was giving the dough a really hard time because of all the punches and presses that I did. And for some reason, this made me think about the moments in my life when I would experience painful, uncomfortable, and seemingly unbearable situations; those times when I’d just feel so defeated and discouraged because of the ‘punches and presses’ in my life.

However, God made me realize that the cook kneads the homemade pasta dough for a special purpose (to make pasta noodles). In the same way, God allows things to happen to us for a special purpose. When they happen, we may not always know why, but they certainly are opportunities for us to trust in God.

It says in James 1:2-4:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

LETTING THE DOUGH REST

I then sprinkled the dough with flour and covered it with cling wrap for about an hour (this prevents dryness and it allows the dough to rest). This is a crucial step because when you try to stretch dough which didn’t have enough time to rest, it will just shrink back – making it hard for the cook to get a stretched, thin dough.

In the same way, this step reminded me of how crucial it is to rest on who God is and not to worry about my painful and uncomfortable situations.

cling wrap
cling wrap

Just like the dough that isn’t rested, when my heart and mind are not rested in God, I can easily “shrink back” to panicking, worrying, complaining, and losing the joy and hope that I have in God.

 “Find rest my soul in Christ alone, know His power in quietness and trust. When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with you above the storm. Father, you are king over the flood, I will be still and know you are God.” -Hillsong

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” -Psalm 62:1-2

STRETCHING THE DOUGH

My younger brother, Gabo, helped me stretch the dough using the pasta machine. We placed ¼ of the whole dough into the machine and rolled it out 5 times (adjusting the machine each time to make the dough thinner).

It was amazing to see how a small piece of the homemade pasta dough could be stretched long and be used to make a lot of noodles. God encouraged me through this and reminded me that He is also able to use us and bring out the best in us, even during the times when we experience pain and constantly face uncertainties.

It says in Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

homemade pasta dough
homemade pasta dough

There was also a time when a part of the rolled dough was sliding away and moving to the side of the machine while it was being rolled. This resulted in a crooked and uneven thin pasta dough. And although I had to exert extra effort, I still decided to take the messed up pasta dough, mold it and roll it out again using the machine. I did that because I knew it was worth it; I had a purpose for it.

trying to roll the uneven dough again

Similarly, God showed me that even if I make mistakes or sometimes, am stubborn like the dough, He still would graciously pick me up, mold me, and stretch me to become the person that He wants me to be. This encourages me even more to constantly humble myself before God and seek Him in my life. By His grace, He works in our lives; He meets us where we are; and He uses what He has given us for His will and glory.

“…But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” -2 Corinthians 12:8-9

CUTTING AND COOKING

The amazing pasta machine. :)

After making the dough thin enough, I then used the pasta machine to cut the pasta dough. After letting it dry for a few minutes, I cooked and served the noodles with tomato sauce and meatballs.

homemade pasta dough
homemade pasta dough

 

Looking back, I realized that in spite of the challenging tasks and discouragements, the cheflings in the Junior Masterchef Australia finished well; they tried their best to prepare the food; and they persevered until the end with the help of the gracious masterchefs who were by their side.

 

homemade pasta dough
letting the pasta dough dry before cooking

 

In the same way, whether or not we experience pain, uncertainties, and challenges in life; I’ve learned that we must choose to trust in God and follow Him even during times when we are being stretched by Him. We must also choose to give Him the best that we can wherever he places us (at home, in school, at work, etc.). Just like the masterchefs, I am reminded that our God is a gracious God and He is more than willing to help us finish well for His glory.

homemade pasta dough
homemade pasta dough
homemade pasta dough
homemade pasta dough

 

It’s really important to not give up ever, and I’m really glad that I did not give up. – Nick Lieurance (Junior Masterchef Australia Season 1 Top 8)

taken from Google Images

Hang in there, friend. Even though it’s tough, don’t you ever give up. Finish well by the grace of God. He loves us so much. :)

 

RECIPE for the SAUCE: Spaghetti and Meatballs by Ina Garten

RECIPE for the PASTA DOUGH: 3 eggs and 2 cups of all-purpose flour

Thanks to Kuya for helping me edit (hehe); Gabo for helping me make the dough (Gotta love brothers!); Mom for the ingredients :D; and of course, God, for Your grace, for being so awesome and encouraging. :)

 

*Other posts that include homemade dough:

1. Pizza (Thank God I Got Stuck) – https://encouragingtreats.com/god-stuck/

2. Pretzels (Pretzels & Passions) – https://encouragingtreats.com/pretzels-passions/

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

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About Me

My name is Nicole Obligacion and I started this blog because I was inspired by Hebrews 10:24 and Hebrews 3:13. I love to eat, cook, bake, read the Bible, and encourage. :)

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