“So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”
“You need to get used to the new you,” said the counselor I went to only once.
His statement made me angry.
When I left his office I felt more lost than before I went in. I was thankful to get into my car. Alone. My anger turned into overwhelming sadness. The sobs started and kept coming like gigantic waves one after the other.
Who wants to get used to living with chronic nerve pain?
In my early twenties, I sincerely believed that I would be exempt from pain and suffering if I lived the way God wanted me to. Filled with pride, I was happy to share my perspective with anyone who would listen. I must have sounded ridiculous!
Thirty years later, nothing could have prepared me for the level of pain I would endure after being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease.
January 2018 will mark four years since my health changed. Life as I have always known it is in my rearview mirror. I have embraced the words of one of my favorite authors, Corrie ten Boom, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
It is true that my future with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is unknown. RSD is not life-threatening, just life-altering.
Pain is my constant companion. Sometimes it seems random and meaningless.
But is it?
God ordained that Jesus, His only Son, would suffer. “Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all…” (Romans 8:32)
Jesus is the only innocent sufferer, and yet his suffering was so radically voluntary.
If God wouldn’t spare Jesus why would He spare me?
Whether you suffer physically or emotionally, pain is pain. My story may be different than yours, but I hope you will find encouragement no matter what challenges you go through. Despite the difficult journey, I have learned much from God.
Here are ten truths that have helped me make positive steps towards managing forever pain.
- God is not angry with me. I haven’t done something wrong to deserve what I’m going through. The truth is…
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?
Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity…”
“And I am convinced nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.”
“…nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.”
2. Life is different, but not over.
3. I have learned that there is more to life than being pain-free.
4. God has a plan for my life even if I can’t see it now.
“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
5. My circumstances are out of my control.
“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty (control) rules over all.”
6. I have physical limitations and I have to be okay with that.
7. Sleep is my number one priority.
8. Feelings are real, but not always realistic or reliable. They can escalate and drive me over the edge emotionally if I’m not careful.
9. Suffering is lonely and isolating. Beware!
10. God loves me for who I am and not for who I think I should be.
One of our pastors at church spoke on identifying our personal platform for sharing the Gospel. Today, my platform is pain.
God has also used pain in my life to…
-Make me more relatable to others who suffer.
-Make me kinder, more compassionate, and more understanding.
-Focus on what’s most important, God and relationships.
-Strengthen my prayer life.
-Make me more dependent on Him.
-Change my heart attitude.
-Slow down my lifestyle, increasing margin and setting boundaries.
The grind and monotony of days, weeks, and months of unrelenting pain have been a beat down. But years of saturating my soul with God’s Word has protected me from losing my spiritual footing in the midst of some serious physical affliction.
“Sometimes God delivers us from suffering, and other times he sustains us through suffering. Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes he calms the heart. Both are acts of grace, and both should prompt us to praise Him.”
This quote by Randy Alcorn is my experience. God has sustained me day after day. More often than not, He has calmed my heart while the storm was raging around me.
I love Psalm 107:23-31.
“Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again into the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wit’s end.
Lord, help! They cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.
What a blessing it was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!”
Many days filled with tears.
But God has quieted all my fears.
Chapter after chapter of life reads the same,
I try desperately not to complain.
Because my life is not in vain,
If I can Glorify God in my forever pain.
Please feel free to share this with a friend or two!