Pain – 1. Physical suffering or distress as due to injury, illness etc. 2. Mental or emotional suffering or torment.
Pain in its many forms is a common denominator for those of us who share this world. Pain has no favorites. It touches all of us regardless of age, race, religion or gender. Every person at one point or another comes under its influence.
In our culture today it seems we do all we can to avoid pain. Children are often protected from even the most mild of sufferings. As adults we often have difficulty coping with even minor set backs or disappointments. We have endless and easily available methods to soothe any discomfort. Pills, smoke, drink, social media, endless ways to meet any and every sexual desire, mindless entertainment, the list goes on and on. We may say we participate for pleasure but more often than not I believe these are methods to escape our pain.
Many people refuse to acknowledge or even choose to hate a God who allows suffering. Their reasoning is that a good and loving God wouldn’t allow the atrocities that pepper our planet. They believe that tribulation is so wide spread that God must be either cruel or absent.
I myself have had to take a good hard look at what I think of my God as I have certainly had my share of hurt in recent years. My marriage died and was thankfully fully and beautifully resurrected, but it was a year filled with deep confusion and pain. Almost immediately after our family was restored, my mom entered into a battle with cancer that was made all the more painful by her subsequent battle with alcoholism. My husbands auto-immune disease and chronic pain has increased in intensity in recent years. Our precious niece died a sudden, tragic and unexpected death. We have suffered. We have mourned. We have known heartbreak.
I’m here to testify that my God has been faithful and present through every moment of every trial. If we had time over a cup of coffee I would happily share with you the beauty and kindness He has shown through all of it.
Recently, I’ve been introduced to a new kind of pain. My own personal physical pain. I have adhesive capsulitis or “Frozen Shoulder”. I had never heard of it before it brought my life to a standstill. Literally freezing my normal day to day activities until I can do little but try to find some comfort in ice packs and heating pads.
“Adhesive capsulitis is a painful and disabling disorder of unclear cause in which the shoulder capsule, the connective tissue surrounding the glenohumeral joint of the shoulder, becomes inflamed and stiff, greatly restricting motion and causing chronic pain. Pain is usually constant, worse at night, and with cold weather. Certain movements or bumps can provoke episodes of tremendous pain and cramping.” – Wikipidia
“People who suffer from adhesive capsulitis usually experience severe pain and sleep deprivation for prolonged periods due to pain that gets worse when lying still and restricted movement/positions. – Wikepidia
Frozen shoulder is no walk in the park.
Before I go on, I have to confess something about my skewed attitude toward physical hurts. My dad was a man oblivious to pain. It was a character trait that stood out in him and demanded to be noticed. I watched him trip and splash acid on his face once. It barely turned his skin pink. When he got a tick embedded in his neck it didn’t faze him a bit to have my mom put a cigarette on his throat to force the parasite out. A 2×4 broke in half and embedded itself partially into his stomach. His only remedy was to have my mom rub some sea salt on it. When the cancer took hold in his lungs I watched him continue to outwork men half his age until nine years later when he finally lost the battle.
He simply refused pain. He had no time for it and he would proudly tell you that he was too mean for it.
I have always liked to think I was like my dad in that way. He had strong genes with a family history of longevity so I must too. Don’t get me wrong. Any of you who know me probably don’t see me as much of a tough girl, but I can deny my own pain with the best of them. When it comes to my health and my body I prefer to be the boss, thank you very much.
Turns out that’s rooted in a huge mess of pride, but that’s a story for another day.
Frozen shoulder is a mighty humbler. It is relentless; present in every second of every day. It is ravenous; eating up my days and my nights with tears and agony. It is cruel; intensifying at night just as the exhaustion of the day sets in and I am hoping to escape it through sleep.
So I cling to, depend on and wrestle with Jesus.
Fully confident He is both able and willing to heal. Completely aware that may not be His will. I’m so grateful that my Lord is not simply words on a page but the Living Christ that understands my suffering and never leaves my side. He is a God who can bear to listen to me cry out to Him about the misery of this intruder.
Deny Him? Curse Him? Cry out Against Him? Truly I can’t imagine.
My cupboard is now full of magnesium oil, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, iron, cod liver oil and B-12. I am actively doing everything in my power to lessen the inflammation in my body and lessen the intensity and length of this illness. I’m even avoiding sugar and coffee if you can imagine.
As some of you know I choose not to drink anymore due to my family history and my own addictive personality but I have had drinks during this time to try to find some sort of relief. I even tried marijuana capsules after all these years of walking away from it in hopes of escaping the endless misery.
While the healthy supplements above have been positive the reality is that it all falls short. The methods I used to try and numb my mind from pains effects have been counterfeit and lacking in any sort of help at all. Again I walk away.
The love, encouragement and prayers of my family and friends have been so valuable to me. My loving husband has been doing everything he can to help me during this time. I don’t know what I would do without his love and care. I appreciate it all the more due to the fact that his own health and chronic pain is in such an aggravated state at present.
All of this means more to me than anyone can even know but there are times when this has to be walked alone. In the middle of the night when I can’t do anything but cry, there is only one I can turn too.
As I cry with my Jesus in the dead of night I think often about His suffering on the cross. I think about the heartbreak of the betrayal He must have felt as the people He had loved and healed demanded His death. No wound goes as deep as betrayal as it penetrates the heart and mind. I know He understands all the heartache I have suffered at the hands of others.
I remember how He allowed Himself to be scourged for us. A torture not only meant to be humiliating but horrific as the whip ends were covered with lead balls or bone fragments. Not just a whipping but a tearing of the flesh. Not just a tearing of the flesh but a tearing of the heart. I believe He understands all of the physical pain any of us can possibly endure.
I cry as I think of how Jesus was willing to humble Himself; to be spit on, mocked, laughed at and beaten beyond recognition. The Almighty God of all the universe with the armies of the heavens at His disposal yet willing to carry His cross to the hill for a people who had rejected Him, humiliated Him and tortured Him. He was innocent. Completely without sin, yet He allowed spikes to be driven through His hands and feet. He hung there and endured as it was increasingly hard to take in even a gasping breath. Death on a cross meant suffocating under the burden of your own weight. He was offered wine mixed with myrrh which was a narcotic drink intended to dull some of the indescribable pain. Yet he denied it. Choosing to be fully aware as He suffered. Fully aware so He could fully understand.
Finally, He bore all of our sin. Every bit of it. Every small sin that you hardly think twice about as well as the most awful, disgusting things that you wouldn’t dare even whisper in the dark. Our sins that cause unthinkable amounts of hurt, suffering and pain in our world. The sins of those who believe Him and the sins of those who choose not too. The Father can’t look on sin and so in those terrible moments He had to look away from His precious son that He loves so perfectly and Jesus had to bear the weight, guilt and shame born out of the darkness of the human heart as well as feel the full separation from His Father.
All to make a way for each and every one of us.
Those who choose Him.
Those who don’t.
He took a way without shortcuts. He chose a way ripe with suffering so He would know ours. He did what He didn’t have to do. In every moment of that horrific day He had choice. In every second He could have decided a different outcome.
He chose you.
This world has been fallen since we chose to go against God’s way in the garden. He would have been perfectly in the right to leave us in a hopeless state of separation from Himself. Instead, He has made a way through His death and resurrection to make a way home for us.
Some would suggest that suffering suggests a heartless and hateful God. I submit that I have read and agree with the fact that if He ended suffering He would also have to end free will. We would be little more than puppets. If He ended free will, love would end. Love that is demanded or forced upon us isn’t love at all.
Our God doesn’t look upon us from a high and lofty throne immune to all that hurts us. He looks upon us through eyes of mercy and love as one who has endured the deepest depths of heartache and suffering. He reaches out as one who has walked among us and is intimately acquainted with our pain.
Know this, if you have rejected and despised Jesus your whole life this message is for you too. No one is beyond the boundless reaches of His grace. We are all equal at the foot of the cross and He will accept with open arms any who acknowledge their sin, turn from it and turn to the one who alone can save.
For those who are bound physically or otherwise, I encourage you to trust Jesus with every minute of it. He sees you. He loves you. He will see you through.
Hold on dear one, when hope seems to have grown cold. There is hope eternal. There is light. There is freedom from bondage.
You may even find a bit of beauty in it.