Lessons in the Pain

I have not felt like writing much in the past few months. The winter was filled with stress – physical, emotional and mental. It is said that you can’t get blood from a stone; well, I say that you can’t get good thoughts from someone who feels brain-dead and heart numb.

I recently had a birthday, but for me it was not really a happy one. I have been struggling with chronic pain since my early 30’s and now that I am in my mid 50’s I am a bit battle fatigued. I have been plagued by the thoughts that if I am in this much pain now, what will I be like in the next 20-30 years? On top of the usual chronic pain I have also developed additional, and at times, severe pain in the groin area of one hip. The pain hits suddenly and is intense enough to cause me to exclaim out loud and almost drop me to my knees. This has happened to me while going for a walk, going up or down stairs, and even on a ladder.

I never know when that particular pain is going to hit me so I am nervous about going on any long nature hikes – which is a passion of mine. I think that aspect of the pain is causing me to feel very frustrated, angry and depressed. My husband and I are just beginning to plan to embark on enjoying retirement activities, most of which involved traveling with our “new” trailer, camping and nature hikes. This new pain aspect has filled me with fear about the possible limitations it may be imposing on my ability to fulfill our retirement dreams.

Pain has definitely slowed me down and at times, has stopped me in my tracks completely.

So, the topic of pain has been on my mind a lot lately and since pain plays such a large role in my life, I have been trying to learn if there has been, and/or is, any positive lessons that may have come about through the suffering of pain.

In some ways, pain has made me stubborn and a determined fighter. I refuse to give up on life simply because I am in pain. When I was younger and in pain, I still had two children to look after, a family to help support financially and a home to maintain. I no longer have young children nor have to work outside the home, but I still have a home to maintain and loved ones who need my help. Pain can certainly teach you perseverance.

Pain has taught me courage. It can be very difficult to choose to continue living when you are suffering a lot of pain. Choosing to move forward, to move past the pain, to continue loving, living and giving of yourself in the midst of suffering takes courage.

Pain can also teach patience. I must admit that I am not very good at patience. I have an active and adventurous soul and I like to keep busy both physically and mentally. I hate waiting for the episodes of pain and fatigue to pass so that I can accomplish something. But I am learning that I need to be patient with myself and if necessary, give time for the pain meds and/or rest to start working. Chronic pain can make me grumpy, so I have to learn to be patient with my loved ones if they are not understanding my pain or are doing things or not doing things which may frustrate me during that challenging time.

Pain has taught me to have empathy with, and compassion towards, others who may be suffering pain. My husband suffers from chronic daily headaches as well as migraines. Since we both suffer pain, it is easier for us to be very understanding, helpful and loving to one another during our bad times. Some of the most loving people I know are those who have suffered or continue to suffer some sort of pain.

There can be much misery in chronic or severe acute pain. I don’t like feeling miserable. Pain has taught me that I need to make good choices about the focus of my thoughts. I do my best to look for, and focus on, the blessings, large or small, that fill my day.

Believe it or not, pain can actually teach me gratitude. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT thankful for the pain! However, I do try to develop an attitude of gratitude for all the blessings that God has given me. I am thankful for my loving, understanding and patient hubby. I am thankful for my Mom who like me, also suffers from chronic and often debilitating pain, but who still remains an example of sharing God’s love with others. I am grateful for my sisters-in-Christ who offer encouragement and prayers when I need them. I am thankful for my peaceful home; the sound of the wind in the trees; the birds at my feeder and their cheerful birdsong. I am thankful for my warm and fuzzy cat; her affectionate cuddles and purring do much to alleviate negative thoughts and feelings. I am VERY thankful for the times when I am able to indulge in some of my favourite physical activities, like going for nature walks, biking or canoeing. I treasure such times like rare and precious jewels. The pain that usually ensues is almost always worth the enjoyment I received from the activity. I am also grateful for the helps that God has provided in the way of good medical care, medicine, therapy and long, hot Epsom salt soaks in my new bathtub.

Pain has also taught me to rest – something that I don’t really like doing, unless I have a good book to read! Sometimes, you just have to learn when to let go of things and simply accept it when you need times of rest. Since I am usually unable to nap, I look to find creative ways to fill my “rest” periods such as reading, watching nature documentaries, or doing a small craft.

Finally, pain has taught me to hope. While I have all but given up hope of being healed in this lifetime, I know and believe that when Jesus comes again, my body will be completely renewed and I will never suffer pain or sickness again. Now that is a hope to hold on to!

Rev 21:4 And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away.

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When Healing Doesn’t Come

Rom 8:25 But if we have hope for that which we see not, then we will be able to go on waiting for it. (BBE)

As a former nurse, I have seen much suffering. As well my own sufferings (fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, arthritis, cancer, panic attacks), many of my loved ones also suffer. So the subject of healing is one that is near and dear to my heart.

While I love God and believe in His Word, there are a number of topics on which I am not quite clear, and healing is one of them. I have done extensive study on the subject and have put everything that I have learned into practice. I have watched Christian healing teaching videos over and over. I have read and re-read many books on the subject. I have rebuked symptoms and spoken healing scriptures over and over again. I have prayed in tongues and I have laid hands on the sick. I have believed for healing with everything that is within me.

So I must confess to some (ok – a lot) of bewilderment when healing does not manifest itself in either my own body or that of my loved ones.

When it came to the issue of my own healing – or NOT healing, as it were, I came to a place in my faith life wherein I had an important choice to make. I could either get angry and frustrated with God, which would damage my relationship with Him, or I could stop struggling and just accept what was (and is) and leave it in God’s hands. I confess that this is much harder for me to do when it is a dear loved one suffering – I feel so helpless.

My relationship with God is more important to me than my own healing, so I have chosen to try to be more aceepting and peaceful about my situation. I also try to remember a very wise statement my mother once made concerning her own struggle with suffering. She told me that she has chosen to believe that God’s Word is true so that when His Word says: “1Pe 2:24 He took our sins on himself, giving his body to be nailed on the tree, so that we, being dead to sin, might have a new life in righteousness, and by his wounds we have been made well.” (BBE) she believes that she is healed, even if it means that she won’t manifest it until Jesus comes again.

Rom 8:21 That all living things will be made free from the power of death and will have a part with the free children of God in glory.
Rom 8:22 For we are conscious that all living things are weeping and sorrowing in pain together till now.
Rom 8:23 And not only so, but we who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we have sorrow in our minds, waiting for the time when we will take our place as sons, that is, the salvation of our bodies.

On my rough days, and when loved ones are suffering, I try to remind myself that the present suffering is nothing compared to the glory that awaits us in Heaven and that having patience and holding fast to faith is earning us great rewards and crowns of glory.

Rom 8:18 I am of the opinion that there is no comparison between the pain of this present time and the glory which we will see in the future. (BBE)

Rom 8:25 But if we have hope for that which we see not, then we will be able to go on waiting for it. (BBE)

Rev 2:10 Have no fear of the things which you will have to undergo:… Be true till death, and I will give you the crown of life. (BBE)

If you or a loved one are suffering and awaiting healing, I pray that God will fill you with faith, hope, comfort, and peace. I also pray for your healing and deliverance, in the name of Jesus.

Blessings

 

Dazed and Confused

“I’m dazed and confused, hanging on be a thread
I’m being abused, I’d be better off dead
I can’t stand this teasing, I’m starting to crack
You’re out to get me, you’re on the right track”

The above lyrics are from a blues-rock song in 1967, written and performed by Jake Holmes. The rock group Led Zeppelin re-did the song on their 1969 debut album.

While I don’t feel that I would be “better off dead”, I must confess to feeling somewhat “dazed and confused” myself lately.

This week I developed inflammation in both of the sacroiliac joints in my lower back. This has caused a literal “pain in the a**”! I am hobbling around like an old lady and groaning like an arthritic hound dog. Hot and cold flashes are my companions as I alternate between ice packs and heating pads. Anti-inflammatories and muscles relaxants induce a definite couch potato demeanor. And my new fashion accessory is a supportive, magnetic back brace – which looks ever so elegant with my ankle socks and bathrobe!

This literal pain in the butt has caused me to miss: leading one ladies’ fellowship and participating in another, cancel my son and family’s visit (which was to be our Christmas visit), and give up a shift at work at a time when we really need the extra money!

This is on top of having to deal with increased fatigue, lethargy, depression and anxiety due to the change in seasons and my suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

AND THEN – my poor, sweet hubby has been suffering from a migraine for the past three days! He has used up his allotment of medication and can’t get a renewal for at least 2 weeks!

He has had so many migraines this year that he has used up all his sick days and vacation time so that when he has to take a sick day now, he is losing a day’s pay. This is not nice at any time of year but especially not at Christmas.

So – yes, I am feeling “dazed and confused, abused and hanging by a thread” at times.

When I am feeling like that, I turn to the only place and person that I know to turn to – my Heavenly Father. While I absolutely believe that He does not send me these trials, I confess to wondering why I have to keep going through them and why deliverance and healing do not seem to be forthcoming.

Like David in the Psalms, I pour out my questions, my fears and my frustrations to God.

“O Lord, all my longing is known to you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.” ~Psalm 38:9-10 (NRSV).

Psa 69:1 To the Chief Musician. Concerning the Lilies. A Psalm of David. Save me, O God! for the waters have come in on my soul.
Psa 69:2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
Psa 69:3 I am weary from my crying; my throat is dried; my eyes fail while I wait for my God.

I beseech, entreat and implore Him to help us.

Psa 118:25 Save now, I beseech You, O Jehovah; O Jehovah, I beseech You,…

I remind Him of His promises.

2Co 1:20 For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God by us. 

And then I purposefully take stock of all the blessings that I do have and I thank God for them. I also purposefully look to see little blessings in every day – like the handsome bluejay at the bird feeder yesterday and the cute red-breasted nuthatch today. Or the unusually mild temperatures we have been enjoying this November along with the mellow, golden sunlight.

Php 4:8 Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things.

I also try to be grateful for the peace and quiet that is my environment and be thankful that I don’t really have anyone making any pressing demands on my limited energies.

Php 4:7 And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

In the end, the truth of it is that when the struggles of this life make me feel dazed and confused, there is only one place to which I can turn – Heaven, and only one person to whom I can turn – God – in the name of His son, Jesus Christ. Without them, where would there be any hope?

Psa 118:14 Jehovah is my strength and song, and He is my salvation.

2Th 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, who has loved us and has given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
2Th 2:17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work…

Blessings

In The Suffering

In a number of previous posts, I have shared my struggles with various health issues. I share them for a number of reasons. Firstly, I want people to understand that being a Christian does not mean that everything is going to be sweetness and light. Secondly, I want readers to know that I am a real person with real struggles and that I constantly need to turn to God for help, comfort and strength. And thirdly, I want others who may be suffering and/or struggling to know that there is a God of love, comfort, peace and joy who is ready, willing and able to help us through any and all the things that we may go through in this life.

Joh 16:24 Before now you have asked nothing in My name; ask (in the name of Jesus) and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.

1Jn 3:21,22 Beloved, if our heart does not accuse us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask, we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Eph 3:20 Now to Him (God) who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,…

The month of February has been a challenging one for me physically. It has been bitterly cold with high winds and blowing snow. My pain and fatigue levels have increased as have depression and anxiety. All of this on top of having to pack and clean for a move. To say that I am a bit grumpy at times may be an understatement. To be honest, I am fed up!!

Yet, even as I sit here feeling like crap (yes, I am a Christian and I said ‘crap’) I realize that I have many blessings for which I should be thankful.

I am thankful for medicinal ‘helps’ which God provides to alleviate my symptoms. I am thankful that He does not judge me for my lack of faith in my moments of weakness. Rather, I know that He is compassionate and understanding.

Psa 86:15 But You, O God, are God full of pity, and gracious, long-suffering, and rich in mercy and truth.

Likewise, I know that my Saviour, Jesus, also suffered pain, fatigue and sorrow.

Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted just as we are, yet without sin.

In this miserable weather, I am thankful for warm clothes and shelter. I think of, and pray for, those who must endure this weather without benefit of warm clothes or shelter and I help in whatever way I can.

1Ti 6:8 But having food and clothing, we will be content.

In my pain, fatigue and grumpiness, I am very thankful for a loving, compassionate, understanding and patient husband. I thank God for my hubby every day because he loves me as God commands a husband to love his wife.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,

In my rough mornings, I am thankful for a comfortable chair, a hot cup of tea, a purring cat upon my lap and a good book to read. I am even more blessed if the sun is shining upon my face.

In my suffering, I am thankful for dear sisters-in-Christ who pray for me and offer words and gestures of help and comfort.

1Th 5:11 Therefore comfort one another, and edify one another, even as you also do.

Jas 5:16 Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.

And in my suffering, I am so grateful for the sure knowledge of my salvation and for the hope that when Jesus comes again, I will be made whole and I will no longer endure suffering, pain or sorrow.

1Ti 2:3,4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Rev 21:4 And God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there will be no more death, nor mourning, nor crying out, nor will there be any more pain; for the first things passed away.

PRAISE GOD!

I pray that you will reach out to God in your suffering and find help in your time of need.

Heb 4:16 Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Blessings

 

 

 

WHAM II

I remember a line from a tv show that goes something like this: “when you least expect it, expect it!” Well. I was in no way expecting the earth to open up beneath my feet after I got to work this morning. Just as son as I got into the office the manager set me down and told me that she was terminating my employment! WHAM! No prior notice, no reasons given and don’t forget to  pay for all those clothes we made you buy so that you could work in our store. Give us your keys and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. WHAM WHAM! I had obviously been accused of something and judge and jury had come up with the verdict without giving me any representation and a chance to defend myself.

While I am a Christian, I am also an imperfect human in this world. I make mistakes, I get hurt, angry, frustrated and upset. I do my best to conduct myself as to be pleasing unto the Lord and in a fashion that gives God the glory. I do confess that sometimes my mouth forgets that it is part of a consecrated body and it says things it shouldn’t. If I realize that I have made a mistake, I do my best to apologize and make amends.

Today, I am very weary of the evil world and it’s wicked ways. Today, I feel like becoming a monkish hermit and going to find a cave to live in (as long as it has indoor plumbing and hot running water – lol) My Mom and I both agreed today that there are some days where you just feel like falling on your knees pleading “come, Jesus, come” today.

However, I may be down at this moment , but I am not out because He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world.

“DEar God, help me to rise above in triumph over these moments of WHAM that shake me to my core. Fill me with you spirit of peace, love and joy so that I may be a blessing for your kingdom”. Amen

Today

When I write my blog posts, I share what I have experienced and know to be true in my life. I hope that by sharing my downs as well as my ups, people reading my posts may be able to identify with some of the topics and find a spark of hope to help them through their own ups and downs.

I always try to be positive when I write, because although misery loves company, it doesn’t really help anybody. However, lest you think that I am “little Miss Mary Sunshine” at all times, I want you to know that I have my dark days too.

Today is one of those days. Today, I am in pain. Today, I am very weary. Today, if I were to describe my emotions as a colour, they would be very grey. Today, I feel burdened by a heavy load. To put it crudely but succinctly, today, I feel like crap.

Some “todays” are more difficult to rise above than others. So today, I am resting in the Lord. Today, I am thankful for the sunshine. Today, I am going to volunteer at an Adult Day Centre because helping to alleviate someone else’s challenging “today” helps me to get through my own.

Today, I will remember that all my days are in God’s loving hands and I will be thankful that my eternal “tomorrow” is coming and it will contain “all things bright and beautiful”.

May God bless you and keep you through your grey “todays”.

Achey Breaky

I dedicate this post to all those who suffer but continue to smile, to love, to hope and to serve.

Maybe some of my readers are too young to know the song “Achey Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus. If you have never had to suffer exposure to that song, be thankful. As for the rest of us, our ears may be scarred for life!

In my life, I have had to endure more than listening to that song; I have suffered through my own “achey breaky heart” on a number of occasions. However, it is not in reference to my heart that I am writing about today. I am writing about my achey breaky body.

Today, it is grey, damp, very windy and raw cold. Just the sort of day to which my body seriously objects. I suffer from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and arthritis. And in case you think it is because I am some decrepit old lady, I tell you that I have battled these illnesses since I was in my late twenties and early thirties.

When I was finally diagnosed, my doctor gave me the good news, “well, at least it won’t kill you”. You can well imagine that I was close to breaking one of the ten commandments (over his head) when he told me that! Anybody who suffers from chronic pain and/or fatigue will tell you that although it may not kill you physically (although sometimes it feels like it and you wish you were dead), it can seriously affect, if not destroy, your way of life.

For me, it destroyed my career in nursing. It also took away my ability to enjoy my favourite activities such as camping, canoeing and hiking. It interfered with my ability to parent and enjoy my children (I was the one who fell asleep while reading them stories). And it seriously affected my former marriage.

I am definitely not alone in the pain department. As I write this, my wonderful hubby is bed with yet another migraine. And today, I had tea with a lady who told me her story about her years of suffering excruciating pain due to a horribly botched surgery. Pain is no respecter of persons.

I have found that being a Christian has added another challenging dimension to the pain and illness. I believe in a loving God who wants me well and has made healing available. But what happens when that healing does not readily manifest itself? In that situation, I found myself having to make a choice: I could choose to be angry with God and give up on Him completely,  I could continue to strive at “getting my healing” and become frustrated and bitter, or I could let go of the struggle and trust God.

In my effort to learn and understand God’s word and ways on the subject of suffering and healing, I came across a teaching entitled, “Our Light Affliction” based on the following scripture:

2Co 4:16   For which cause we do not give way to weariness; but though our outer man is getting feebler, our inner man is made new day by day.

2Co 4:17   For our present trouble (“light affliction” in KJV), which is only for a short time, is working out for us a much greater weight of glory; (BBE)

Now before I have somebody come down on me like a ton of bricks, I am not saying that I believe that God has given me pain and sickness to teach me a lesson. If that were the case, I would want to know why there are an awful lot of wicked, evil, bad people out there who are perfectly healthy! Don’t they need to be taught? I would also want to know why, after all these years, I have not graduated from the school of pain. Am I really so dense that I need to keep repeating the lesson?

Then there are  “Job’s miserable comforters” who might say that I suffer because I have some unresolved, un-repented sin in my life. I guess they don’t know the Word of God that tells us that when we have accepted Jesus as our Saviour, we are free from sin:

Rom 6:18   Then being made free from sin, you became the slaves of righteousness.

And then there are those who would say that God gives people pain and suffering so that they can become a good witness for him. REALLY?? If that is the case, put me in a “witness protection program” – please! Talk about convoluted thinking! (Joyce Meyers would call it “stinkin’ thinkin'”).

So, what do I do on those “achey breaky” days when I don’t understand why healing doesn’t come? I take my pills, curl up on the couch with a heating pad, and rest in the Lord trusting in His word that tells me that although I might be hurting today, life on this earth is only for a short time and it’s nothing compared to how unimaginably wonderful I am going to feel in my new life in God’s heavenly kingdom.

(Would somebody pass the Motrin please?)

Blessings