About two years ago, my husband and I decided to do a 7 day fast. I had not done a fast in several years due to being diagnosed as Pre-Diabetic, having Fibromyalgia Syndrome and High Blood Pressure. I typically wouldn’t alter anything from the routine of food I consumed because any little imbalance could result in weeks of unrelenting pain. I chose not to take all of the pain meds prescribed by my doctors because I believe they just mask the pain, cause dependency and decrease the quality of life. Some people believe differently, however this is my choice. I choose to endure the pain, press through, lean into it, so I can lead a somewhat normal life. So as you can imagine a 7 day fast could have grave implications on my well-being, not to mention I had to go to the corporate headquarters to sit in meetings for 4 days. Well I was on day 3 and I had a headache that was unbearable!!! I felt like I was going to pass out. Then a co- worker noticed I was not myself and asked me what was wrong. I broke down and told her I was fasting and just like someone delirious in pain, I went on and on about how hungry I was and how the pain was racking my body. I was almost in tears. But then this women looked at me with so much love and compassion and said to me, “Compare the suffering”. It was like a bolt of lightning had struck and landed directly on my soul. What she was saying was to compare the suffering of Jesus with my own current situation. Well how was I supposed to do that? There is no comparison and her point was well received. I went to the bathroom and prayed for strength and thanked Jesus for His suffering for me. I then put mind over matter and went on with my meeting. An hour later, lunch was served and miraculously all the things I could eat, were served. My pain was still there, but I needed to put it into perspective. Pain is sometimes necessary. In Jesus case it was necessary and in our lives it can be a necessary benefit as well. This is how pain benefits me:
Pain lets me know I’m alive. We’ve all heard the saying “I pinched myself to see if this is real”. People say that because the pain from the pinch lets them know whatever it is, is real. So many of us go through life sleepwalking and acting like the walking dead. We are not living life, just going through it, numb to everything around us. But when you experience pain, it becomes a wake up call. Pain lets you know you are still here and have work to do.
Pain lets me know something is wrong. In general, pain is an indicator that something is amiss in the body and needs to be healed or corrected. Similarly, pain in my life lets me know I’m not sleeping enough, not eating properly or dealing with too much stress. It also tells me when my body has had its fill of activities and when it is time to rest. My body in the past would lie to me. I would be tired and stressed and it would keep going, acting as if everything was okay when it wasn’t. My pain is like the truth ringing in my ears, loudly, screaming….TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!
Pain helps me to be more compassionate. I have to admit, before my fibromyalgia diagnosis, I was hard on people who claimed limitations. If you were sick, get over it and come to work anyway. If you were going through a break up, cry for 2 days and get back on the wagon. When people claimed to be fatigued, I thought that just meant they were tired or sleepy. And hey, we can sleep when we are dead, right? Wrong! The first time I felt fatigue, which is commonplace these days, I thought I was dying a slow death. Tired is to someone pinching you as fatigue is to someone hitting you with a baseball bat. They are NOT the same. And everything people go through in life, whether pain in their body, hearts or minds should be handled with the utmost care. People in pain should be held with compassion, not pity, not disbelief and not business as usual, but compassion. God blessed me with a compassionate husband who along with my pain has taught me to extend grace, passion and love. I am thankful for my pain because It has made me a better person.
Finally, pain gives me purpose.God promises us Beauty for Ashes. This simply means that out of our pain, disappointments and brokenness, beauty will manifest itself. There is a purpose to everything….nothing God does is in vain. I… like Paul have asked God to take this thorn from me and He up to this point has said no. And because I trust God and refuse to lean on my own understanding, I know there is a purpose for my pain. Around the same time I was diagnosed with my incurable, life long pain, my grandson died. It was because of these instances that my purpose was born. I got serious about my life, I got engaged in life, I stopped playing church and lived for Christ. I sought my purpose and began living in it. Now pain moved in with my purpose and they will not be separated. And I’m okay with that as long as I am living a purposeful life. No one ever told us that finding our purpose would be a painless life. Just look at Mother Theresa, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Pain followed them, it was part of their purpose. And part of my purpose is to help other Chronic pain sufferers know that they can still have purposeful and wonderful life.
Beauty for Ashes is what God promised me. So I can hold on. I can see the big picture. I can endure the pain. I understand its benefits. I thank the Lord for my pain. But its hard. It’s especially hard on days like today when I can barely type this blog, I’m fatigued, I’m experiencing brain fog and my body feels like its been hit by a Mack truck. However, I will overcome, because I have work to do. I have a purpose…..