Chronic Pain and the Goodness of God

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I’m struggling with the pain again.

It doesn’t happen very often anymore, but when it does, I’m a mess. I question everything I know about God, about life. I am emotionally miserable and physically wreathing. Last night was no different.

I was telling my husband that in our Ladies’ Bible study we are studying the names of God and how I am not comforted that God is El Roi – The God Who Sees. Because if He sees and doesn’t intervene where terrible, painful things are happening, then how can He be a loving God? How can a sovereign God, El Elyon, God Most High, allow pain and suffering in the world? Doesn’t He care about what’s going on? I know these are the most common questions and thoughts of a non-believer, but I’ve been a Christian for over 20 years and I still wrestle with this. I’m so glad God loves me and is patient and merciful and that I don’t have to watch out for lightning bolts coming from the sky when I write things like these!

My husband and I have been engaging in really serious, intellectual conversations lately about God and the problem of pain and suffering. I’ve tried to figure it out emotionally and have not been satisfied with any answers people or the Bible can give me.

My husband suggested that we try to put emotions aside (he’s such a man!) and look at it from a rational, purely intellectual perspective. He was hoping it would make more sense to me. I’ve been reading the Bible and articles and books and listening to podcasts.

To be honest, it does make more sense in my mind. But not in my heart. My heart still aches and questions.

As I’ve studied I’ve realized that, really, my issues aren’t about the pain and suffering in the world, although I would love for that to end and for people to feel no pain. My issues come from the lens through which I view the world, and that is through the lens of pain, sometimes dull and annoying, other times fiery and debilitating. I don’t want to hurt anymore. I don’t want to be disabled by the pain. I want to live what most people would consider a normal life. I want to get up in the morning and not wonder if my legs will give out from the pain when I stand, or if I will be able to run to my boys and pick them up when they are hurt. I want to chop vegetables for dinner and not have lingering pain in my wrists and drop my fork at dinner from the resulting weakness. I want to sit through Bible study and not be distracted because my legs feel like they are stuck in cement, but twitching too.

Please don’t misunderstand, I know compared to many in the world, my life is a cakewalk. I am so blessed and I am thankful and I don’t mean to minimize the horrendous pain and suffering of other people. I can only write from my point of view.

I know that God allows the pain in my life because it is part of His plan; it brings Him the most glory and I trust Him. My pain brings the most good. Otherwise, He would heal me. I believe that as long as my pain serves the greater purpose of bringing souls to Christ, that I will continue in pain. And on an intellectual level, I’m okay with that. But what I really want the most? I want physical comfort. I want the pain to stop and I know that it won’t. It’s exhausting and depressing and it makes me question my loving Creator and that makes me so sad. I trust Him, but I also live the reality of debilitating pain. I have yet to find the emotional comfort I’m looking for, but I’m glad that this ongoing, seemingly never-ending trial has been seeking the Lord more, has me wrestling with my faith. Because as always, the Lord shows Himself faithful and my faith grows.

If you have a moment, please say a prayer for me. Ask the Lord to send me physical help when I need it, the comforting words of a friend when the physical and emotional pain becomes too much for me to bear on my own. Pray for my husband and sons who also live through this trial with me. Please pray the Lord gives our boys a miraculous understanding that Mama has pain and that even though I can’t play on the floor with them all the time and sometimes I can’t keep up with their energy, I love them so very much. Pray that our marriage would be strengthened. Pray for my husband. I’m sure living with me is exhausting!

Friend, maybe you need to know you aren’t alone when have thoughts like these. Maybe you are in the midst of wrestling too. Or it could be that you have a friend who is struggling with chronic pain and you don’t know what to say to her. Pray like crazy for her, remind her she is loved and that you are there for her no matter what she needs or when she needs it. In any case, I’m praying the Lord uses it for His glory and that people come to know and love Him more.

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