Joy and Pain
A few weeks ago a friend sent me a text asking for a favor. He recently had jaw surgery (thus the text and not a phone call) and wanted to write a post about pain. Because he’s one of the few friends I have let in to my journey with chronic pain, he thought I might have a few words to share. Below is the email I sent him. I have to be really honest and tell you I really wrestled with sharing this. I do this for one reason and one reason only…I hope it helps someone else.
In the past few weeks, I sent it to another close friend that is walking a tough road right now. Somehow it brought them some peace to know they weren’t alone. I pray this finds anyone that needs to hear it by posting it now. You’re not alone. Praying for each of you as you find your peace and joy in the pain.
Here’s what I sent him –
Sorry, couldn’t resist the title….
Pain sucks. If I’m 100% transparent, it’s not the pain that bothers me. It’s the fear that comes with the pain. I’ve told my doctor on multiple visits that “the pain won’t bother me, I can deal with it. What I want to make sure of is that it’s not killing me.”
I’ve owned seven Pontiacs. Seven. No particular reason, it’s just the way that it always worked out. Every last one of those Pontiacs followed the same dreadful path. I was told each time that “the ‘whatever-whatever’ engine will run ya forever.” Seven. Every Pontiac had a multitude of dashboard lights on when I traded it in or sold it. In every case but one, the car still ran pretty well (beyond the normal age and wear and tear) but all of those warning lights were on.
That is my experience with pain. I’ve got dashboard lights on all over my body. Some more serious than others. I leak oil. I get overheated. I have to regularly check the tires for slow leaks. But I’m still going. The old body I call a car still gets me from point a to point b. But when I get concerned is when another new dash light comes on. Is this the one? Will this be the one that will lead them to find the cause of all the other lights? Will we get the news that this one can’t be repaired and I’ve got limited miles left?
That’s my pain. I could lie and say it’s led me to a closer relationship with Christ. I could give you stories about hours in prayer and some incredible peace I’ve found.
I’d be lying.
It sounds good on a Sunday morning video but it’s not real. What I have learned to accept is the “thorn” that Paul referred to in 2 Corinthians 12.
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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. 10 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.”
I’ve prayed that God would take pain away more times than I can count. I’ve done it in the middle of the night when I feared I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. I’ve done it in the morning hoping to get through one day pain free. But for whatever reason, He hasn’t taken it away.
So my dashboard lights will continue to glow until I trade this “vehicle” in one day. I hope that day is long after I’ve seen my children grow and made forever memories with my bride. Until then, I’ll keep the oil filled, air in the tires and do my best to enjoy every mile we spend together.
Praying for you man. Love ya.