LIVING WITH PAIN
For the past ten years I have been dealing with chronic pain which has slowly become worse and worse. This has decreased my activities and ways to minister quite severely. Medical professionals have tossed me back and forth from "It's her hip, no it's her back, no it's her hip" for the last four years. Due to an MRI things settled on "It's the back." I have done many different treatments which would help the pain for a bit but never get me fully out of pain and then in the last year I have experienced only two states of existence Pain and Severe Pain. So back to another MRI and then to a back neurosurgeon who looked at the MRI and basically blew me off with you have a few small problems but nothing severe and no pinched nerves so it's your hip go to a hip doctor. I left the office reeling in shock and deep disappointment and grief and loss of hope that there would finally be a good solution for me. One thing I've found through this time is there are a lot of people both young and old who are also suffering pain. With physical pain comes psychological pain as your life becomes more and more limited and pain can develop the other way around starting with psychological pain and moving to physical pain.
So I thought I would share a few things that I have learned that have helped me live with pain. I'm certainly not going to preach and get all holy here because knowledge only aggravates you when you're in pain. And I know the feeling of desperation that "I'll do ANYTHING" to stop the pain that can almost suffocate you. BUT I have found some principles from the Bible that were actually practically helpful and these I'll share along with a few other things.
Let's start with simple physical changes that are helpful. 1) Get some sleep. Use melatonin and natural calming pills to start with. You can ask your doctor for muscle relaxer because pain causes muscles to contract which then causes greater pain. Your doctor can give you stronger sleeping aids if the natural ones don't work but they can have side effects and be addictive. But get sleep and make your body relax it really does help in a lot of areas. Psalm 127:2 "...the Lord gives to His beloved sleep." Say it over and over as you breathe deep slow breaths. 2) Change your activities to give you purpose. I can't travel or walk more than 100 feet without having to stop to ease the pain. BUT for the first time in my life I started a blog. This connects me to people. I also do counseling and I even spoke at a Ladies Retreat on FaceTime. It's not as good as being in the room with the people but it works giving me outreach and connections that minister to me as well as them and I can do it from my recliner in less pain. So get creative. Don't let pain make you hibernate. Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
3) Use nutrition to help. Garlic, Vitamin D and Turmeric reduce the inflammation that causes or increases pain. There are many others like that. Do some research and try different things. Nutritional answers may not help but they won't do you harm and you might find good help there.
4) Change your interpretation of what is happening to you. You'll probably need the help of Jesus here. Write down all you are feeling and thinking about your pain. Identify it and face it. Then give it to Jesus and ask Him what He would like to give to you instead. Then listen quietly until He speaks to your soul and spirit. He may show you purpose in your trial; the good things happening inside you making you a richer deeper more empathetic person to others or He may just come so near to your heart with His love that you find nothing else matters really. If nothing seems to happen the first time you try it don't give up. Do it again and again until you finally get your receiver tuned to Jesus' frequency and catch what He's been trying to say all along.
5) Keep hunting for helpful answers. The problem with a chronic ailment is everybody has a solution for you and it just begins to feel like you're being bombarded and you shut down. Or you're just so tired of trying and being disappointed that you quit. Remember you have choices and our God is "the God of all hope" Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 15:13. So choose to hang onto His hope.
6) Develop a Biblical view of suffering. This is the hard one and right now if you're hurting you're ready to can this. But hang on just a bit more, I get it, I promise. God wants us to see everything here on earth as temporary training and practice for the great fulfilling, joyful things we will be doing in eternity. So with that mind set we can first identify with Jesus who is "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" Isaiah 53:3. We then begin to be thankful for the opportunity to have scars in our lives as a proven warrior would. Do you really want to be a "desk jockey" in Jesus' military? Romans 8:18 says the suffering doesn't compare to the glory of the reward.
7) Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of depression, Isaiah 61:3, Psalm 118:24. You have to develop number six to be able to do this. You make a willful stubborn choice to start praising God and thanking Him for what He is doing in your life and those around you. It's like putting on a tight wet bathing suit. It sticks and you have to pull hard to get it on but it will lift you out of depression. Play praise music and sing along. Play healing scripture CD's. John Hagee ministries has a good one and there are others on You Tube. These are willful choices you make and they aren't easy especially when you're already exhausted from pain. But they will work if you pluck up enough courage to do it. I'm not out of pain yet but I am living with it just fine and you can too!