There are a number of great resources to share with those of us who suffer with Chronic Pain. Sometimes the resources are great in length they become impractical to the person who is suffering. Not so with this mini-book from CCEF. Less than 25 pages, it packs practical theology on every page. I highly recommend purchasing it, and several others, to share with people you come in contact with who may be suffering with Chronic Pain. I am going to take a couple posts to share what I personally have learned from this booklet:
A Relative Newcomer
I am relatively new to this type of suffering. It all seems to have begun in earnest about 4 years ago; although looking back with my current understanding of the state of my spinal column, I can see it affecting me even back into my high school years. Short history: About four years ago I was suffering from intense back pain and was trying a variety of options to make the pain go away. I was in “full relief seeking” mode. In 2009 I had my first spinal fusion surgery (S1/L5). Then in October of 2011 I went through my second spinal fusion surgery (s1/L5/L4/L3) are all in the process of being fused now. I say “in the process” because it takes about a full year of recovery to have the vertebrae fuse as they should. So, while I may not have suffered near as long as some people I know, I do know a bit of living with Chronic Pain.
My Pain is Different than Yours
Chronic pain differs greatly from injury pain, or temporary type pain. Sometimes the level of pain is lower than what one may experience with injury pain, but what drives people down is the fact that they don’t heal nor can they escape from Chronic Pain. I’ve had my share of severe injuries: a wrestling injury in college put me at the brink of paralysis and after college while working in factory with coiled steel, I was hit in the head with a coil wrap that came undone from a steel coil. I’ve certainly experienced severe injury pain. But this Chronic Pain is something that goes beyond the initial shock of injury pain and reaches levels that begins to affect the very psychology of the person in it’s grip.
If you are experiencing this kind of pain, is it still possible for you to persevere and live out God’s purposes for your life, even in the midst of your suffering? Is there grace enough? Yes there is. God promises that his grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Your Pain is Affected by Many Factors
Understanding pain is not quite as simple as it first looks. Even acute (short-term) pain is a complex experience, influenced by many different factors. [...T]here are many other factors that contribute to the heightening or the lessening of your pain experience.
What are some of these factors?
- Cultural Background
- Anticipation of the Pain
- Previous Experience with Pain
- Your Emotional State
- Your Mindset about Pain
Because we are affected by a mix of some of these factors and others, it makes the understanding of an individual’s pain more complex.
Knowing that pain is more than a physical experience should give you hope. If your pain is not set in stone physiologically (and secular theorists know it is not), then you can have hope for not just coping with pain, but for growing more like Christ in the midst of pain.
The Foundation for Living by Faith When Your Body Hurts
It begins with an understanding of your own pain. Your pain is unique as you are as an individual. Understanding this keeps us from making personal judgments of ourselves or others we know who suffer. Take some time today to think about the factors that make your pain your own. Use the factors above as a starting point. Think physically, emotionally, relationally, mentally and spiritually. It will help you as we continue this discussion.
Tomorrow, and in future posts, we will look at God’s perspective on pain, the expectations we have in this life, and the purpose of suffering.