The Oxymoron

“Why are you doing this to yourself? That’s got to hurt…”

Sarah’s eyes were opened wide and full of fury as she bit very hard into her arm. Sarah was 12 years old at the time and was upset about something. She came closer so her face was directly in front of mine. With eyes locked on mine she growled at me as she bit herself harder.

Knowing I needed to stop this, I used the trick I was taught at her autism therapy. I took her arm and pushed it towards her and she released her bite. Her teeth left deep impressions on her arm. With that she arched her back and screamed at the top of her lungs. She then she ran upstairs to her room and slammed the door.

I shook my head at what just happened; I longed to understand what sets her off.

I am thankful her therapist taught me this trick. I learned early on if Sarah tried to bite that this worked. Our natural tendency would be to pull away when we feel pain, but that actually makes things worse. The jaw is locked and it can do more damage. When she tried to bite me when she was younger, if I pushed my arm towards her, she had to release her jaw to adjust. This moment gave me the opportunity to break free. While I still might get a nasty bite mark, the damage is far less than if I pulled away.

I find it interesting that we tend to do this with the Lord. When we are in pain, our natural tendency is to pull away from Him. We are hurting and try to free ourselves from the pain, but sadly it makes things worse. We separate ourselves from the only source that can bring true and lasting healing.

Instead, we need to press hard into the Lord, especially when we are in pain. When we dig deep into His Word and devote ourselves to prayer, we find freedom and comfort in spite of the pain. Our circumstances may not change (we might still end up with a nasty bite mark), but neither does our Lord! The more you press hard towards Him, the more you see how much He loves and cares for you.

In many ways, it’s an oxymoron, to press in to let go, but it is true and it takes faith.

It reminds me of the story of Elijah and the widow in I Kings 17. She and her son were at the brink of starvation. Elijah asks her to make him a meal with the little food she has left. I Kings 17:13 says, “Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘This jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.’

I imagine her standing at her table ready to make his bread. I think she would have had tears in her eyes and hands might just have shaken a little as she was about to pour out the little flour she had left in the jar. She had the choice, to do what he said and go out on faith, or not.  What if it wasn’t true? Elijah would eat her food and she and her son would basically eat just crumbs before starvation. This was an oxymoron; give him what little food she had and she will never run out. In our minds we think this is absurd, but to God all things are possible. This widow had the faith to push in and obey rather than pull away and keep what little she had to herself. Due to her obedience and faith, God provided many meals for her family and Elijah during the famine. Her obedience saved her family’s lives.

I want to be like this widow. When faced with tough challenges of life that I am obedient and faithful. Despite the pain, despite the desire to recoil, that I press in hard to the Lord and let it go for Him to handle. His loving hands are much stronger to hold whatever pain I am carrying.

To press in to let go…it’s an oxymoron, but it is truth that brings hope and healing.

Isaiah 55:8, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”