We have a world that is broken. And we have a Savior who heals. I firmly believe it.
But in the days of Elisha, there were many lepers in Israel, but only one that we know was healed.
Our culture has an aversion to pain. From Ibuprofen to Oxycodone to morphine, our language has been saturated with an awareness of the drugs that minimize pain. Amazing research is being done for suppressing nerve receptors.
All of these things are good, don’t get me wrong, but they also come at a cost.
If you struggle with chronic pain, one of the things you will also struggle with is people’s impatience.
“You should just have more faith.” “You should change your diet.”
Everyone is an expert. And they are probably right.
But how does the scripture really see chronic pain?
Well, the great missionary apostle seemed to know a thing or two about suffering. Not only was he flogged, ship wrecked and stoned (literally, not on drugs, come on, stay with me), he apparently struggled with some sort of chronic physical ailment. After intense prayer, God finally told him…
“My grace is sufficient for you.”
Grace isn’t normally in our vocabulary for dealing with chronic, ongoing, pain.
Uor chronic misunderstanding of grace has coupled with our perspective on chronic pain. The word “longsuffering” no longer appears in our biblical vocabulary but should make a return. Longsuffering produces a character that doesn’t exist, can not exist, that must grow and can only grow when pain is present.
Paul understood that pain was not a sign of God’s abandonment of us. Pain was an expected part of the human condition. Paul also understood that grace was the fuel that allowed him to continue to be engaged in the mission of God while still struggling with a chronic condition. Grace isn’t a “suck it up” approach. Grace is a flowing, spiritual connection between God and his creation.
“My grace is sufficient” isn’t a divine cop out, it is a divine promise full of the reality of eternity engaged with your situation.
And God, I’m convinced, has chronic pain. He has a longing in his heart, a hurt that can only be healed as he is reconciled to us, his children.
1. If you know someone who has chronic pain, pray for their healing, but give them grace. Lots and lots of it. You will then be acting as the Lord himself acted towards his Apostle.
2. If you have chronic pain, challenge your thinking about God. Ask God to reveal to you what grace is, and how to access that grace.
Finally, let me suggest something else.
Embrace your pain.
one of my heroes of the faith is an older, now retired missionary lady how has lived the last 20 years in chronic pain. Yet she has not allowed her pain to define her life. Her sweet, gentle character has continued to shine through.
What’s your experience?