BY MARSHA DUCILLE
ACCORDING TO RESEARCHERS at the National Institutes of Health, over 25 million American adults live with chronic pain (extreme discomfort that persists for months or years). Also alarming, pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Yet, somehow, there are people who (while hardly making it out of bed) find a way to maximize their lives.
Rosalina Matos is one of those people. When I heard her speak at Apostolic Camp International in Statesboro, Georgia, my life was forever changed. Heavy tears streamed down my face, and a renewed sense of purpose burned within my spirit. There stood a woman who lived with the chronic pain of Transverse Myelitis (an excruciating neurological disorder); nevertheless, she preached with the strength of a warrior. It appeared that nothing, not even agonizing pain, could keep her from preaching the Gospel.
“It’s a very painful life,” Rosalina shared. “Some people never regain mobility. Some people live that way for the rest of their lives. They never walk again. The nervous system breaks down. Even though your body is healthy, it tells itself that it’s not. So, your body deteriorates faster than it’s supposed to. [...] I have been classified as disabled. Although I have the desire and mental capacity to work, I don’t have the body to work. One week I might be able to work 10 hours, and the next week I can’t work at all because of the magnitude of pain. My illness doesn’t only affect my nervous system; it affects my bones and my organs. I’m tired. I’m easily run down. My body is killing itself, so I’ve had to learn to live with it,” she continued.
Was Rosalina hurting? Yes.
Was she afraid to die? Yes.
Was her faith challenged? Yes.
Was she giving up on God? No.
With hardly enough strength to hold herself up, Rosalina declared: “Even if God doesn't give us what we ask for, He is still God. We must worship Him for who He is, not for what we want. And even if God doesn’t heal me, He is still God ... and I will worship Him anyway!”
As I listened to Rosalina, I quickly encountered a myriad of emotions. First, I felt admiration: “Lord, this woman is using everything — even her pain — to serve You.” Next, I felt shame: “Lord, forgive me for not doing more with my life.” Then, I felt determined: “Lord, I will no longer limit my purpose with excuses.”
God Uses Her, and He Wants to Use You
Rosalina’s life and ministry should make us all ask, “Am I using everything (the good and painful) to serve God?” Whether you feel physically feeble or spiritually weak, God has planted a purpose inside of you. Your pain can’t stop that purpose; your circumstances can’t block that purpose; and your mistakes can’t abort that purpose. Psalm 150:6 instructs, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (New International Version). So, if you’re still breathing, God wants to use you.