Friday, June 7, 2013

Where is God in the Pain - Part 2

It is hard to think about living the rest of my life in physical pain.  If I could choose for it to just magically go away, I would choose that.  I think a lot about my past, my story.  And I can see how God has brought about beauty through the ashes.  I can say that, while I am not proud of my past, and I wish that I hadn't hurt the people I hurt, I don't regret what has come from it.  I am the person I am today because of my story.  Through the pain and all the running, God has done amazing things.  In my heart.  And in my marriage.  At times, I feel overwhelmed just thinking back through the last year and a four months.  It is a whirlwind.  And through it all, I am so grateful that Kris and I weathered the storm and have the story to tell that we do.

Image courtesy of cooldesign /

And this brings me back to my question from my last post:

What if God doesn't want to heal my pain?

 What will that mean for my present life?

Or my future?

If I pray for my pain to be healed, and others pray as well, does it mean that our faith is not strong enough if the prayers aren't answered the way that we want?

And what about other pain that we experience?

Examples from my own life would be depression, anxiety, a marriage consumed by addiction and adultery, deep wounds from the past.  These are all pain, in their own way.  Some physical, but most spiritual and emotional.  And God has chosen to heal some, and some are still waiting.  There is no rhyme or reason, in human terms, for this.  No explanation or way to understand why some are healed and some are still battles to fight.

For me, the physical pain is something I think about a lot.  Is this a thorn in my side?  Am I destined to always be in pain?  Does this physical pain really have to be part of my story?  Isn't the affair and learning to understand how deep the Father's love is for me enough for my story?  Does it really need to be "enhanced" by journeying through the pain?  And is it okay for me to find a healthy way to end the pain? 

What if surgery can heal the pain?  I have, in the weeks since my most recent MRI, received the results and made very specific plans for my future.

In the words of my doctor on the day he gave me the results, "All that to say this is shaping up to be a pretty bad day for you."

The two discs that were herniated a year ago, are of course, still herniated.  But this time, they are pressing against the nerves and spinal cord.  This is what is causing significant pain, numbness and many other unpleasant symptoms.  It is now time to fix the problem, and I am considered a "surgical candidate" now that I am so miserable I can barely function on most days.

Surgery is scheduled, and it is just days away.  June 12th couldn't come soon enough.  I have spent four years in pain, waiting for it to progress enough to make me a surgical candidate.  Now that I can't feel my arms most days, it seems to most logical answer for the surgeons, and to me.  Surgery isn't an end all.  It doesn't mean I'll never have pain in my neck again.  It is likely that I will still have pain.  But all of the neurological symptoms that are preventing me from functioning fully should cease after the surgery.  It is a relief to have answers and to be moving forward, toward what I hope is the close to this chapter of pain. 

All of this pain so present in my daily life has kept me thinking.  When I sat through a sermon weeks ago about pain, here are some of the things that stood out to me.

Jesus came to die for our sins, but he also came to redeem our pain.  Isn't this a great thought?  It inspires hope.  Understanding that God wanted to save us from sin and death, I am amazed when I look at these Scripture that speak to this truth that Jesus redeems our pain.

Isaiah 53:5 - "But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.  He was beaten so we could be whole.  He was whipped so we could be healed."

Isaiah 61:1-3 - "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.  He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord's favor has come..."

It's all about our pain, past and present.  I had never looked at these verses in light of physical or emotional pain until recently.  God wants to redeem our pain.  He wants to bring great worth and value from our sorrows, disappointments, failures, and pain.

Most of the time, we try to hide our pain, weaknesses and struggles.  Especially those things that we feel may make us "look bad" to a world where we seem to have convinced ourselves we need to look good.  Why do we do this?  Why is it so important to appear strong?  The truth is, we are not strong.  Not a single one of us can handle our pain in our own strength.  If we could, we wouldn't have this deep, desperate need for God.

Some people, myself included for a long time, convince themselves that the exact thing they do not need is God.  That something (or someone) else, something within our own control, will fill that void that every single person has inside without God.  People can deny it outloud, but hearts cry out time and time again for something more. 

We run.

We hide.

We search for what will make us feel good. 

For what will ease the pain. 

Why do you think here are so many addictions?  It's because we try to put anything except God in our hearts, thinking that if we can just be in control and ease our suffering ourselves, then everything will be okay.  But deep down, within the heart of every man and woman, is the knowledge that they need God.  Sometimes it takes tragedy or pain to reach deep inside our souls and open up our eyes.  Romans 1:18-20 is for every man.

"But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.  They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.  For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.  Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature.  So they have no excuse for not knowing God."


We've all, at one time or another, been that sinful, wicked person.  And this passage doesn't even talk about subtleties.  It says that God made himself OBVIOUS, and that there is no excuse for not knowing God.

So, in acknowledging that we have a great need for God, it seems reasonable to take it one step further and also admit that we need God to help us bear our pain.

In our pain, we are not left alone, floundering and helpless.  We may not always know the why, but we can be assured of the One who is by our side; the One who carries us, if we will just acknowledge our weakness and pain, and allow Him to redeem it.  We have to face our pain and let God work through it. 

Psalm 40:2-3 
"He lifted me out  of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.  He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see what he has done and be amazed.  They will put their trust in the Lord."

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