image map Home Favorites Reading About Contact

The Cracker Jack of Pain—A Surprise with Every Body

If “Life is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re gonna get,” chronic pain is like Cracker Jack—“There’s a surprise with every body.”

Be honest—who really bought Cracker Jack to eat the peanuts and caramel corn? It was always about the surprise packed inside the box. Just so, God has planted a surprise for each of us in each day—and the more we expect to see His surprises, the more we’ll find.

Just like Easter egg hunts. There's always the child who only stands around, passively holding her empty basket, whining that she sees no eggs. So she never does. But then there’s the kid who runs from bush to tree, looks sideways and upside down, and returns, beaming, with an overflowing basket of colored eggs.

I want to be that kid.

Living in a pain-filled body might slow us down in the hunt, but we can still rip open the box with gusto, anticipating the prize inside. Many new things await us if we live with open eyes (Proverbs 20:12-13)

With my pain, I’ve already gotten a new vocabulary, new medicine, new TENS unit, new doctors, even a new bed. But those are minor compared to the real surprises that have come with pain.

Over 23 billion toys have been given away in Cracker Jack boxes. But God makes more than 23 billion criss-crossing connections between friends all over the world, ready to share His message of hope through illnesses.

Through Rest Ministries, I’ve made friends with Lynn—and discovered our common love of books and authors. I’ve received e-mails from Connie and Mrs. Lucy and Sherry, sharing their own stories and offering encouragement for mine. Last week I reconnected with Susan, who invited me to a local HopeKeepers meeting.

God knows who we need to help us in our journey, and who needs us. Let's watch for each other. We’ll share more than pain—we’ll also share joys, belief, struggles, and hope.

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back.

Cracker Jack had been around about 15 years when Norworth and Von Tilzer wrote their famous “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” song in 1908, referencing cracker jack in the lyrics. The song implies that the ball park has everything you need for a home away from home, win or lose.

How at home are we with suffering? It’s often coupled with a loss of mobility or a reduction in activities or an increase in doctor appointments. Who wants to live there?

Yet God still chooses to make my body His temple, His dwelling place, whether I feel broken or not (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). If it’s good enough to be home for Him, it’s good enough to be home for me. He can use even the most ragged bodies as a home away from home until they’re made anew in the heavenly home.

In the beauty of God’s creativity and sovereignty, He somehow, some way, turns all things around for our good, whether we understand it or not (Romans 8:28).

Finding satisfaction in this body is not always easy. But I’m learning that God is faithful in His promises, that He will always be enough. He will provide more faith-building surprises than I can imagine, if I will keep seeking Him (Proverbs 8:17; Ephesians 3:20).

Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo have been living on the Cracker Jack box for almost a hundred years. Still smiling, still saluting, still teasing us to “Guess what’s inside?” They haven’t changed.

But I have.

I’m not the same person now that I was ten years ago. Is it the pain that changed me? Indirectly, yes. At times it’s made me cry and complain and feel discouraged. At times it has frightened me, thinking about the “what if’s” around the corner.

But in bigger times, it’s made me see that life is more than my body, and my body is more than my pain. The “old me” isn’t always happy with this body—I’d rather have something more comfortable and in proper working order, but the “new me” is learning to be content even here (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

So I’ll keep expecting the unexpected ways that God sends us pleasures and delights, making our journeys a little easier, our joys a little fuller, and our peace a little deeper.

And even if we don’t always enjoy the popcorn and peanuts inside the box, let’s keep digging through them until we reach the package inside, rip it open with enthusiasm, and delight in the prize (Jeremiah 29:11-13).


Reformed Anon. Girl in Pain said...

i love this!
I too, feel fortunate that although the pain itself is bad, the friends I have made because of it are wonderful!
REformed Girl

Michele Williams said...

Great post! Friends can make it so bearable! Thank you so much for sharing.

Lynn Severance said...

Lisa, you share so well! I always liked both the popcorn and peanuts plus the prize! Really.

But your point is so true. Nine years ago I could not look at a computer screen without spinning out and now it is my life line and connection to the outside world. So what is "wrong" about many friends who live in the computer? They are the ones who understand and I grow in knowing them and in being encouraged by them and can still reach out in ways that make me know I am okay! Maybe better than okay as compared to running all over the world in a better working body but not recognizing God's strength and faithfulness and His ways of helping me each step of the way. Yes, He always has more for those of us willing to have eyes to see! It may take some digging, as you say but worth the efforts, for sure!

Thanks for such a great posting. They are always so good and interesting but Cracker Jacks? You know how to woo your readers right in with this one!

Bless you!

Lisa notes... said...

Lynn, surely you didn't eat the popcorn and peanuts! :-) My husband says he did, too. Who knew people actually ate it? I think I should find some and give it one more chance. I may just love it.

Reformed Girl and Michele--Yes! Friends definitely make a difference. Thanks for sharing.

Blessings (and surprises!) to all of you...

Lisa notes... said...

Not even looking, my husband and I ran into a rack of Cracker Jacks at the grocery store last night! Weird, huh? So I bought a bag (no boxes).

Well, it's still not making my favorites list, but it was better than I remembered. ;-) I finished half the bag (which equaled 2 servings; 4 servings in a 4 oz. bag?) No sign of a peanut yet. I'll save the other half for Jeff. He should enjoy it more.

The prize? Worse than I remembered. ha. A paper fold-up "smart mouth" crab, and 2 corny jokes.

deni weber said...

Lisa! What a great analogy you posted here! (I liked the Cracker Jacks, too!) Yes, this Cracker Jack life style is one of finding the unexpected. God is so good to us, providing for us even in our pain. Thank you for posting this!

Rose said...

Good for you! Happy to see this on the Carnival Blog site! I wouldn't have known you were here otherwise :)
God Bless!
Praying for you-

Unknown said...

I love this! What a great word picture of our lives being like an Easter Egg Hunt. God is always lighting candles in the dark places of our lives ... we just need to expect and look for them!


Unknown said...

P.S. I would love it it you would put FeedBurner on your site so I can subscribe via email!


Young Wife said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing. My husband has chronic pain due to psoriatic arthritis. It's encouraging to read about other Christians dealing with something similar.

Lisa notes... said...

Deni and Joy: I'm glad the Blog Carnival is connecting us. I thank God for Lisa Copen and her big heart (and hard work) for ministering to so many in this way.

Cyndi: I took your suggestion and added the FeedBurner. Thanks for the nudge!

Young Wife: My prayers are with you and your husband. Hang in there!

Katie said...

I am new to the hopekeepers site - found and joined this morning. I didn't realize there were chronically ill christians I could talk to online! I have lived with pain for nine years - and with a diagnosis for 5 years - but never knew there were places online like hopekeepers and blogs like yours - that could uplift and encourage me! I gave up my local support group long ago, because I found I came home more fearful and discouraged after each meeting. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you! I have felt so alone - hanging around healthy people, trying to be 'just like everyone else' and pretending, as much as possible, to be well. And then I cry alone - I cry out to God - during the long nights of pain. He is my comfort - my very best friend - but perhaps He is showing me other solace through people like you. Maybe I don't need to feel so lonely anymore. This article of yours has inspired me to try to look on the bright side of this failing body of mine! It is true that 'having a skinned knee' has sent me running toward my Heavenly Father for comfort and so this illness has had that blessing attached to it. I tend to run to Him - not away from Him when I am hurting. And, so, like the lamb with the broken leg, He must carry me on His shoulders and I do enjoy being close to Him. Keep blogging please - and I will keep reading! :)

Lisa notes... said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. They blessed me. I love the imagery you painted in my mind of the lamb with the broken leg, and Jesus carrying us on his shoulders.

I'm glad you found the Hopekeepers site. It's definitely a place you can find God through the encouragement of others. Living with pain definitely need not be a solo journey, so I pray that you'll find comfort in friends you'll make there. I'll look up you and say hello if I can find you at the site...

~ Lisa

Anonymous said...

whoa, this'll beat you up in a heartbeat, thanks for sharing!


Related Posts with Thumbnails