The Pain Game

Pain is a funny thing. OK, not really so much funny as infuriating, but you know what I mean. It is a beast with many faces. I’ve been dealing with more of it lately than usual and it has been a learning experience, to say the least.

Have you ever played the “which pain would you prefer” game? That’s where you ask something like “Which would you choose: A nail driven through your hand or appendicitis?”. It’s a silly game. But when you deal with a variety of pains you start playing that game as a kind of pep talk. For instance, for the past two days I’ve had a serious air pressure headache that is making me quite miserable. But I’m also nearly three weeks post op from a small but very painful surgery which has resulted in periodic intense stabbing pains deep into the surgical wound. I’ve had a wonderful reprieve (for the most part) from those pains for over 24 straight hours now, and I find myself saying today “Oh, this headache is horrible. But I’ll take it over the stabbing pains any day!”. So, maybe it’s not such a silly game, after all. If it keeps me optimistic, that’s no small thing!

Pain has a kind of relativity to it. It’s more bearable in certain parts of the body than others. Some people have high tolerance for it, and some have very low tolerance for it (I’m the latter, in case you haven’t figured that out yet!) And there are so many kinds: stabbing, jolting, dull, aching, throbbing, increasing, chronic, etc. It can change your whole personality, especially when it’s chronic. But what’s really amazing is that God is so much bigger than that pain, and He can intercede and use it in all kinds of amazing ways.

I had an interesting, and in hindsight, profound experience when the stabbing pain started. I had just started thinking I was over the worst of the normal surgery recovery pain, and had stopped taking the dreaded narcotics. Then came the stabs. And I mean STABS. It felt very much like a knife going right through the wound and well below it. They started at midnight on the dot and carried on for about 1/2 hour that first time around. They’re sneaky things because you feel OK and start to relax, and then BAM. There’s another one. When you wince and cry out in the middle of the night it sounds a lot louder than you’d expect! But as I lay there enduring that trial, I actually began praising God for who He is and all He has done. It was a powerful moment. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like it. The Holy Spirit can seem so quiet in us, but when He speaks, even severe pain can’t compete with His presence! That’s what resonates with me from all of this. Even in times of pain and trial, my soul wants to praise the Lord! He saved me and gave me a heart for Him so that no matter what I face in this life, I have Him. What could be better? So in the midst of misery and despair, a peaceful kind of joy welled up in me. And it was at a time when I most needed it because I’ve been having a lot of very low, depressed moments lately.

I’ve now spent the last nine months recovering from surgeries (in addition to dealing with pain and fatigue from the MS), and it’s been hard on me. I tend to feel like I have no value or use in the world anymore. I feel like I’m done, useless, pointless, and nothing but a burden on my poor longsuffering husband. But moments like the one that night give me hope, because it was such a great reminder that I’m not useless to the Lord. The sovereign all-powerful Creator of the universe actually loves and cares deeply about me. He has a perfect plan, and all of this suffering is part of it, and includes me getting to glorify Him for all eternity. It has also made me much more aware of and compassionate towards people I know who are suffering even more than I am. This “world of suffering” is sort of hidden away and ignored in our culture of vanity and pleasure-seeking because suffering is an uncomfortable thing to understand or think about for those who are well. But those who belong to this secret club are real and we do matter. In many ways, we have been drawn into the real world, away from the distractions of meaningless shallow passions. It’s hard. Really hard. But it’s also a wonderful thing to see more clearly because of it.

Lord, come quickly! And until then, may You be glorified and honoured and praised in all that I do. Amen.

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