Pain, Pain Go Away
Pain. We want to avoid it and will mask it as best we can with the latest medications and therapies available. Right? Some live with pain every single day. It becomes harder to get by when the pain becomes crippling. I'm talking about physical pain because that's what I struggle with. I know we all get aches and pains, but I'm only 33. Shouldn't I feel like this, someday far away, when I'm 73? Lately, it's as though every week brings a new physical pain. One thing gets better just for something else to begin hurting. On one of the Facebook pages I follow, someone recently posted that they would like to pray for people in pain and invited anyone to comment with their pain prayer request. In just a few short hours, hundreds shared their physical wounds. As I read through, I thought, "so many of us are in pain and are hurting." How heartbreaking. Our stories of pain do not have to end with darkness, depression, and heartache.
Physical pain is not easy to live with, and it is a daily, weekly, or suddenly-and-never-at-the-right-time chronic illness that people live with. Pain can change someone. Pain makes Uncle Jack grumpy, it makes cousin Sue jealous, it kills your best friend's zest for life and adventure, and it pushes your brother away from people and to the bottle. We struggle to understand why God would allow anyone to continue on in pain. We pray, and we pray, and we pray for healing, but for some reason, it doesn't seem to come. How can we make sense of prayers lifted up when they don't seem to be answered in the way that we want them to be?
As someone who has lived with chronic back pain for a good chunk of my life, I have struggled at times to wrap my mind around a God who can heal any ailment, yet I remain in pain. This is not because I'm praying wrong, or because I'm not holy enough, or because my faith is not big enough. There's a reason for my pain. I'm also confident the Lord has kept me in ways I do not know. Consider how the Apostle Paul asked God three times to take away the thorn in his side. There are plenty of theories as to what that thorn may have been, yet some agree it was physical pain. God's answer was that Paul would have to live with that thorn in his side. Paul was out preaching the gospel, he had faith that God could take away his pain, and he was a devoted servant of Christ. If anyone could be healed, wouldn't it have been Paul? Sometimes, God answers our prayers in ways that we don't expect, and that has nothing to do with our amount of faith, or how close we are to God, but rather the answer is part of His plan for our lives and how He is working in us and through us.
For those dealing with physical pain I encourage you to remember that you are a child of God. Your pain is not God's punishment to you. God loves you and is with you even when you're feeling your greatest pain. I have been in terrible, exhausting pain, unable to get up or walk. I've been there. In those moments, I have prayed to the Lord and always find my way back to this truth: God, You have not forgotten me and You are here with me. He hasn't forgotten one of us.
I want to share what I've learned from God's word about pain and my experiences of faith as I've been in the midst of facing physical pain.
1. Pain draws us nearer to God.
It causes us to trust Him in ways that we may not trust Him otherwise. It gives us time to talk to Him, to cry out to Him, and to lean on Him. The pains and tragedies in this world can also be the situations that bring us closer to God and transform our hearts. (See James 1:2-4)
2. Pain develops compassion.
It is because I have experienced great physical pain that I can have compassion for others. I know what it is to suffer. I realize the limitations of our physical body and my heart goes out to those whose physical bodies are letting them down and failing them. (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-8)
3. Pain creates an eternal perspective.
This is actually important to have. In this life, the days are long but the years are short. It will be over in the blink of an eye. Talk to anybody who's in their eighties, nineties, or on their deathbed; they'll all tell you how life flies by. Remember that our physical pain is temporary because we have a place that Christ has prepared for us.
A place of no more pain, no more tears, and no more suffering. And all God's people said, "AMEN!" (See Revelation 21:4)
Sometimes, when the pain keeps me from enjoying the day or my family how I had envisioned, I remember that there's purpose even as I (am forced to) recover and rest. I remember that this pain-filled life is not all there is for me, and pain reminds me I was not made for this world nor the troubles it brings. We were made for eternal glory with the Lord in heaven. We can anticipate the days when our new bodies will not hurt nor fail us, rather they will be untouched by the sinfulness of the former world and perfectly made in Christ.
Author: Pamela Palmer