A state of pain
As I write to you this month, I’m going to take the liberty to sway a bit off the Faith@Work line of thought. However, stick with me because this message likely involves you or someone you love.
One popular Christian song says, “What if I had given it my all, instead of going through the motions?” There are times -- as much as I would’ve liked to -- that not only did I not give my job my all, but also going through the motions was even difficult.
All because of pain.
According to the Institute of Medicine, more than 116 million Americans live with chronic pain. It can change our personalities, water down our faith and stifle our performance at work and home. Unless we are very good actors, chronic pain affects our countenance and our moods, which of course starts a rapid fire of questions from those around us. To make matters worse, we have to listen to the know-it-alls, the skeptics and the “it’s all in your head” advice.
The vast communities of people who live with chronic pain know these truths: Pain is constant, pain cannot be measured and pain is personal. Its grip makes it hard to work, hard to play and hard to get support from others. Every new day becomes just an extension of the painful one before.
Then it happens.
There is a 15-minute reprieve -- maybe a whole day, maybe even a week -- from the intensity. When this happens, I find myself shouting from the rooftops in praise to God! Without knowing how long the “letup” will last, I savor every minute of peace in my body. It’s during those moments I know God is a merciful God.
The prophet Jeremiah described how so many of us feel as he cried out to God in Jeremiah 15:18: “Why has my pain been perpetual, and my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?”Jeremiah wondered if God had failed him.
You, too, may ask, “Why, God, do You allow this pain to be inescapable?”
Today, I pray that you have many of those intermittent reprieves. I pray this new reality of a life of pain draws you out -- not in. I pray you feel the joy of the Lord as you travel this pain journey.
It took some time, but I learned that I didn’t have to put off joy until I felt better. I didn’t have to wait until the medical answers came. Most importantly, my real joy was not dependent on my circumstances. I found that I could choose joy -- in spite of it all.
“Though the fig tree should not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
A few trusted resources: