Pain finds me in the middle of an afternoon hike — sharp, searing and unrelenting. It’s the kind of pain that makes you want to collapse into a crying heap on the ground. Even if that ground happens to be covered with mud and sharp rocks.
That morning, my husband and I had woken up determined to make it to the top of North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain in celebration of our third wedding anniversary. As outdoor enthusiasts who walk on a regular basis, we weren’t concerned about the hike. We can walk three miles in our sleep. What we had failed to take into account was the fact that this was my first major hike since my Ehlers-Danlos Hypermobility diagnosis, when test results showed my bones were starting to degenerate. We didn’t think about how my aging, fragile body might handle the rough terrain.
I can do this. I told myself as we stepped out of the car. I can totally do this.
You know the age-old saying, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should? Well, I don’t know who came up with those wise words, but I should have heeded their advice before we started climbing.
The seven biblical truths I’m sharing with you today are the truths I have learned to cling to when the pain won’t go away — when I find myself questioning the goodness of God or doubting His plans for my future. I believe these truths can touch our minds, souls and bodies more than any medication we could take to numb the pain.
1) God is with you and will never forsake you.
If you suffer from chronic pain, you know how debilitating a flare-up can be. And if we aren’t careful or intentional, the pain can overtake our brains and rob us of our joy in Christ. I’ve experienced this too many times to count. What God has taught me through the flare-ups, however, is that I have a choice. I can choose to wallow in my problems, or, I can choose to exchange my problems for the promises of God.
Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us that “the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” So, while friends and family members might leave us hanging or fail to be the support we need, we know we can always count on God to be there for us.
2) God knows your pain.
Chronic pain can be an incredibly personal and isolating experience. For me, I can often feel misunderstood, especially when no one seems to take my suffering seriously. But while the world may fail to understand what we are going through, Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that Jesus understands our weaknesses. “For he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” God knows your pain, beloved. He can relate to you, and He want to love you through it.
3) God will help you get through this.
While I made it to the top of the mountain without much discomfort, our descent led to my downfall. One misstep was all it took, and as the tidal wave of pain flooded my knee joints, I wished we’d never left the comfort and safety of the car.
Little did I know that this one mountain misstep, and the hundreds of steps back to the car, would signal one of my worst pain flare-ups yet.
In a matter of days, I went from feeling like I had my chronic pain under control to feeling like my chronic pain was controlling me. In those days, I clung to what I knew to be true about God’s presence in the midst of our suffering.
When we look at Biblical suffering and trials through the context of stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Joshua, David, Esther and Nehemiah, we are reminded that God is our helper and our healer. He has never failed us, and He wants to help us through our pain. And as He helps us, He will provide our every need along the way.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19.
4) Pain isn’t a bad thing. It’s an opportunity for great joy.
Hear me out on this one. If you’re in a flare-up right now, I know how hard it is to read those words. I know the pain doesn’t feel like a gift. But we have to look at the Bible, and God’s Word reminds us that it suffering produces character and a hope that is not put to shame.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5.
5) God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.
I love Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10: “In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Pain is not just an opportunity for joy, but an opportunity for God’s power to shine through us.
6) Pain doesn’t last forever.
Ecclesiastes has always been a sobering book of the Bible for me, and I especially love Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which remind us that for everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. There is a time for weeping, and a time for healing. There is a time for suffering and a time for healing. The pain we experience now is not pain we are stuck with forever. It has an end date. And ultimately, we can look forward in hope to the day where every painful thing is gone.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
7) God loves you.
This, my dear friend, might be the most important Biblical truth I am sharing with you today. In the middle of your pain, do not forget God’s love for you. I know the enemy might tempt you to believe that your persistent suffering means God does not love you enough to heal you, but his lies couldn’t be further from the truth. God loves you with an everlasting love. He is for healing. He is for restoration. He is for you.
“God told them, ‘I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!’” (Jeremiah 31:3, The Message)
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