Monday, June 18, 2012

The Real Problem of Pain

"EViLS have encompassed me
     beyond NUMBER; 
my iniQuiTies have overTaKeN me,
     & I cannot see; 
They are more than the hairs on my head. 
     My HearT FAiLS me." (Psalm 40:12)

A while ago, I thought I had an epiphany regarding my chronic pain. After 5 years of struggling with this wretched disease, I finally admitted to myself, to God, and to everyone else within earshot,
"I can't handle this!" 

I said it aloud, I said it with tears, and I meant it with all my heart. At first, I felt like a weight had been lifted. But when I woke up the next morning, nothing had changed. I still had the same disease, and my symptoms were as terrible as ever. I don't really know what I expected. I suppose I expected that weight-lifted feeling to remain, the lessening of anxiety to abate the pain a little, but I was devastated. What I needed to admit was, "I can't fix this," or more perhaps more appropriately "No one will fix this (God included)." That fact is infinitely harder to admit (even now it brings tears to my eyes) because I'm admitting that this very unpleasant portion of my life will never change. I'm admitting that this illness, this pain, this disease is going to be present with me every minute of every day until the day that I finally die

What I needed to admit was:
I am going to be in pain every day for the rest of my life.

What I needed to understand was: whenever God gives us a problem that we truly cannot solve, He's telling us that it's not really the problem. Pain hurts, and to endure it every day is downright torturous. It's disruptive, and it's debilitating to say the least, that's true. But pain is not the enemy, nor is the disease or the injury that brings it on. The enemy is the lie that your pain must dominate your life. The enemy is the lie that your pain is nothing but meaningless torment. The enemy is the lie that pain makes your life not worth living, that it makes you worthless, that you can't handle it.

The real enemy is the one who tries to distract you with pain. He desperately wants you to forget that the real problem is the fact that there are people all around you who are suffering something similar to what you're suffering, but they don't know Christ. 

The real enemy desperately wants you to forget that the training your trials have given you, and the salvation Christ has earned for you, makes you one of his most formidable opponents (yes, YOU: sick, weak, bedridden, wheelchair-bound, SSI-dependent, can't-make-it-to-church-on-Sunday YOU!). Why you? Because you're a prime witness for the opposing side. You KNOW first hand what Satan doesn't want anyone to believe: Christ suffered and died for our sins. And the reason that you know that so well is because you have to feel part of that suffering every single day of your life. So, Satan is hoping your suffering will be enough to make you turn away from God instead of towards Him. He's counting on it because if you turn toward God and become an example of what real suffering is, the enemy has no cards left to play. You've just trumped them all.

So don't take a bite of that shiny red apple he's offering you. There's no truth in it. There never was. Instead of looking inward, look outward. See those around you, see the good that you can do, and most of all, see God working in you. See the enemy for who he is, see your pain for the distraction it is, and know that you are above all, a baptized child of God capable of commanding out loud, “Get behind me, Satan!” as many times as it takes, because with Christ as our victor, we have no reason to live as victims.

Suggested verse to repeat to yourself whenever that pain starts to come first is from Matthew 16:23
Pain Rehab buddies, remember to breathe!
“Get behind me, Satan! -------> 5 count inhale
You are a hindrance to me.” -------> 5 count exhale


  1. Thank you! This is so true.
    I'm not yet 30 and I've had a chronic headache for 8 years. In my worst moments I am tempted to completely panic at the thought that I might be this way for the rest of my life. What you have said here, about fear being a tactic of the real Enemy, Satan--very helpful. I have a bunch of Bible verses on my wall that have recently been my weapons to help me fight back the panic. God is good.
    Thanks for your writing. I'm so glad God led me to find your blog!

    1. I am so sorry for your trouble! I hope with all my heart that your pain will end soon. I know how torturous and horribly unfair it is to have that constant thorn in your side that makes just living life hard work. Some days, we think, okay, I can do this. And the next day, we're praying for death, release, sleep, a cure, anything to stop the hurting. But God never allows hurting for hurting's sake. Who knows what lives you are meant to touch, with and without your pain? The lives you already have? And what a fitting name, Miriam: Hebrew, meaning "wished-for child." I don't think that was only your parents' wish, but God's wish as well. Here's one more for your wall of hope: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for prosperity and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

      You might also like my article "There Is Not One" at