I have learned a lot from CCEF‘s mini-booklet on Chronic Pain. I suggest if you are suffering from Chronic Pain, or know someone who is, purchase this valuable resource. Today we look at what we can expect in this life.
Expect to Groan in This Life
As a believer suffering from Chronic Pain, a reading from the Gospels provides me hope in the knowledge that my Suffering Savior can identify with my physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental distress.
Jesus experienced physical pain and spiritual alienation in order to overcome physical pain and death and the eternal consequences of sin.
While we are confident that Jesus is powerful over every aspect of life, we await Christ second coming in which we will fully realize the blessings of his redemption. We are confident that one day we will possess a glorified body that will no longer suffer, feel pain, sorrow, or experience death. It is a dream worth dreaming. And it is a reality that the child of God will experience fully.
This helpful booklet on pain points the reader to Romans 8, a vivid reality of the Chronic Pain sufferer. Our fleshly bodies are failing and we continue to groan in the unrelenting pain of this life. We have eternal life, right now, through Jesus Christ but we still are experiencing the reality of decay and the effects of sin on creation. The hope that we have as believers is that the reality of our “downpayment”, or guarantee of what is to come, the Holy Spirit, will give us strength to persevere until our redemption.
So, as you gain a proper understanding of pain personally and gain God’s perspective on pain, expect that in this life we may groan and desire strongly the redemption awaiting us as God’s children.
Suffering is Purposeful
This is an important concept to realize and accept as a Chronic Pain sufferer. If you believe that God can stop your pain at any time, then understand that if you are currently in pain, there is a plan and purpose for it. I do not say that lightly. It is not theological platitudes. I will say that as recently as last night, I lay awake in my bed, on my back, stabbing and burning pain pulsating in my left leg, unable to sleep. My thoughts were on the truths of this booklet and the Truth of scripture. Did I hurt? Yes. Did I want it to stop? Most definitely. Did I just want to sleep and gain some rest? Absolutely. My thoughts were centered on the purpose for that moment in time – how should I respond? As I lay there I thought of several people in our church that needed prayer – so I prayed for them. My thoughts went to missionaries in Guatemala – so I thought through plans of Gospel application we had discussed, developing those plans as I could in bed. Finally, when I “ran out of things to mentally do”, I grabbed my Kindle and read for a while. Eventually my body yielded to it’s tiredness and I slept for a few hours. Purpose? I’m not entirely sure why God chose last night to have me lie awake, but I tried to respond to the opportunity as I could.
In the past month at our church we have had families affected by four deaths. Three of those coming since Christmas. Two of those affecting the same family. Purpose in the suffering? I preached in a memorial service yesterday on John 11. There is purpose in the suffering! Somehow God destines the paths we walk in our lives to bring glory to him. Even in prolonged illness, suffering, pain and death. We may never realize it fully in this life. Or ever. But trust the pages of Scripture, trust the Word more than your experiences. Let a “theology of suffering” shape the way you respond to Chronic Pain.
The reality of the Christian life is that God is “…up to something remarkable in allowing you to suffer.” We know we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, we know that we are being placed in the furnace of affliction so that God alone may receive glory and we know that God will cause us to persevere.
Part One of this series
Part Two of this series