“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV) (This verse restates the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy 31:6)
Several years ago a physical therapist, following an examination, told me I could have spinal stenosis. About three years ago my left knee complained loudly, and after a couple doctor’s visits I was diagnosed with poly-arthritis in multiple sites. Depression jumped on the bandwagon, as I wrote about here.
When I first read the above Scripture, it sounded like marriage vows. The difference is that although a husband or wife may leave the spouse, God says He will never leave. While I’ve never been married, the above verse gives me comfort in my struggles with chronic pain. I am limited in what pain-killers I can use. When my back starts hurting, or my knee or my wrist start complaining, it’s not long before I get grumpy, irritable, anxious, and depressed. When you throw in that some days my pain is all I can think of, and other days I hardly notice it, and I can’t predict when days will be good or not good—well, that would put stress on any marriage. But God stands by me, nevertheless. I may not be as sensitive to His Presence as I should be, but all I have to do is read the above verse to realize He isn’t going anywhere. He is not going to leave me, even if I am so grumpy I could bite my own head off, let alone anyone else’s! 🙂
It may be that part of God’s faithfulness is realizing blessings hidden in chronic pain. “Blessings???” you say. “How can there be blessings in something so painful, so unpredictable?” Consider these:
- Chronic pain forces me to look at Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for me as the source of my feelings of self-worth. I sure can’t get it from the amount of work I get done, because there are days when I can’t do much!
- I am gaining empathy for other people, who are in pain, depressed, or anxious. I know what it’s like, and it’s hard.
- It forces me to be glad for the small amount I can get done—if my right wrist is bothering me (I’m right-handed), instead of a complete letter to a friend, maybe I get three paragraphs written. Instead of an hour or two on the computer, maybe I can get fifteen or twenty minutes in.
- This goes along with #1 and #3: it’s an effective way of wearing down perfectionism: I’m hurting too much physically to beat myself up emotionally or mentally.
So, yes, there are blessings even in something so unwanted as chronic pain. I think the greatest blessing of all is simply knowing God’s faithfulness in the middle of it all.
Another Scripture to consider is: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37, 38