Being physically ill and in pain is no small trial. It is a heavy burden that we must bear as long as we live on this planet.
The Emotional Impact of Pain
People who suffer from chronic pain carry an extra burden that healthy people may not fully comprehend. For many, pain is a life sentence. Whether the pain is due to arthritis, fibromyalgia, a car accident, or an old football injury, those who suffer can find the simplest tasks overwhelmingly difficult.
As a result, pain can produce self-centeredness. When you are enduring a sickness, it is so easy to only think about yourself and allow your world to be consumed only with your own personal feelings and struggles.
As you can see, pain is influenced by emotions, and the cycle of pain and emotions are interrelated. Some common emotional responses to pain can include anxiety, depression, anger, feeling misunderstood, and demoralization.
Our bodies are fading, and we can expect suffering, but we must not let our internal joy be governed by our external circumstances. Believing that you have control over your life and can continue to function despite the pain or subsequent life changes has been shown to decrease depression.
Several studies have shown that spiritual belief can help reduce pain. We have a powerful resource in Christ and he is ever-present, in control, loves us and will help us endure.
Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain - Robert Gary Lee
God created everything that goes into medicine and healthcare has made huge strides toward alleviating pain.
”Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran
What Scripture Tells Us About Pain
God created everything that goes into medicine and healthcare has made huge strides toward alleviating pain. Although you must continue to look for remedies, there are some levels of suffering that medicine has yet to reach. Sufferers may wonder if God even cares, so let’s investigate what scripture says about pain.
The briefest glance at the Bible reveals that God is aware of our suffering and is eager to help us (Psalm 50:15; Numbers 21:8–9). He made us from dust and knows how our bodies function Psalm 103:14; 139:13–16). He created the nerve endings that communicate pain to our brains, so He well knows how they affect us. We know that God is ultimately in charge of everything, even chronic pain (Isaiah 45:7). Those who know, love, and trust Him need never worry that God is unaware of their suffering or that their requests for relief are being ignored (Matthew 6:31–33; Luke 12:6–7).
When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He gained renown for healing the crippled and the ill (Matthew 4:23). He sometimes went out of His way to alleviate the pain of an individual, revealing His compassion for the suffering (Luke 13:10–12; Matthew 9:20–22). Jesus said that He did nothing of His own accord, but only what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19; 14:10), so from this we learn that the Father also has great compassion on those who suffer and can heal them.
But pain relief was not Jesus’ main mission; nor is it the Father’s. Sometimes pain is the result of sin or foolishness. Sometimes it is merely the fallout from living in mortal, imperfect body. Whatever the case, our suffering is not wasted. God has a purpose in it. This link is to a related post:
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him about a man born blind, Jesus replied,
(John 9:1-7) It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
He then healed the man, but only after the man had suffered from blindness his whole life up to that point. So, Jesus’ attention to the chronically ill shows us that God knows about our pain and cares that we suffer. However, for reasons known only to Him, He often allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves.
Many times God brings good from our pain by teaching us to rely more on Him. The more acutely we see our need, the more likely we are to seek His face.
Also, God may use pain to help us learn endurance and patience. James describes a life of perseverance as one “not lacking anything.” With patience, endurance and perseverance, our perspective changes because we have matured. We develop a resiliency born from the discovery of our inner strength.
We then can help other sufferers with what God taught us:
(1 Cor 1:3-4) "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”
Yet chronic pain can be an opportunity to learn to suffer well before the eyes of the world. When those with no hope watch the patient endurance of a child of God, they may yearn for that kind of strength. By their silent testimony, chronic pain sufferers may be storing up mountains of treasure in heaven as they refuse to doubt God’s goodness (see Matthew 5:16; 6:6).
Sometimes God miraculously heals people from pain; other times He does not. Neither instance is an indication of God’s love or the worth of the person. God states clearly that He is sovereign over everything and His plan will stand (Isaiah 46:9–11). Sometimes that plan includes suffering, even for those who love Him and serve Him faithfully (Acts 9:16; 1 Peter 4:13).This link provides an example of a miraculous healing:
An Astonishing & Undeniable Spiritual Healing
The apostle Paul was an example of someone totally devoted to Christ, yet he had to suffer many things in order to remain obedient to God’s will for his life (2 Corinthians 11:23–27). It goes without saying that Paul must have lived with chronic pain from his many beatings and imprisonments. We are not told what his “thorn in the flesh” may have been, but it is entirely possible that it was chronic pain of some sort. He pleaded with the Lord to take it from him, and God’s response has become a source of strength for many sufferers of chronic pain: “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Paul’s strength, no doubt, came from his years of prayer and meditation while in prison. Recent studies have shown that mindful meditation helps decrease stress and pain. It involves focusing the mind to increase awareness of the present moment. This method, to help cope with pain, can be easily done anywhere, even on the bus.
An example of mindful meditation would be to sit up straight, close your eyes, and put aside all thoughts of the future and past. Stay present and focus on your breathing.
This exercise could be done for just a couple of minutes, letting your thoughts come and go while being aware of your current state. Through performing this kind of exercise, you can create a sense of control, which is crucial in making your pain experience more manageable.
This link provides full information on how to meditate:
Paul also wrote that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17, ESV). If Paul could call the abuse he suffered “light momentary affliction,” then we can all take heart and follow suit. He seemed to be saying that those who learn to suffer well will be rewarded grandly for all eternity. God is not standing idly by while His children suffer. He promises to draw near and comfort us when we call to Him (Psalm 34:18; Hosea 6:1). Although chronic pain is exhausting and disheartening, we have God’s promise that it will be worth it when we see Him face to face (Philippians 3:8–11; 1 Corinthians 13:12). Our pain is not pointless when our lives are devoted to God’s will. We can rest in the confidence that He is allowing it for His greater purposes (Romans 8:28) and that soon we will be with Him and free from pain forever (Revelation 21:4).
”Pain has its own noble joy, when it starts a strong consciousness of life, from a stagnant one.” – John Sterling
No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.” – William Penn
The solution for your pain may be waiting for you to discover it, so don’t give up. Continually pray for relief while putting yourself in God’s hands and accepting His will. Your pain may be meant to strengthen or teach you something that you can use for yourself, for others or that God can use for His purposes. If you are healed miraculously, it will certainly strengthen your faith. The following link discusses how and when God performs miracles.
Why Doesn’t God Perform More Miracles?
To get everything you need for life, pain, both physical and emotional, is an absolute necessity. Without pain, you would never truly appreciate what hope is. Without pain, you would too easily forget your need for God. Without pain, you would neglect your need for saving and salvation. Pain heightens your senses and gives you a greater awareness of the more important things in life: love, God, family, hope. If you lived a life completely without pain, there would be a void in your life, a void only filled through the experience that pain gives you.
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If we are not joyful in God, we will be weak. But even if we our physically weak because of a sickness, when our joy is in the Lord, we will be strong (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4, NIV).
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:16-17, NIV).
What Does the Bible Say About Enduring Pain by Mark Ballenger
10 Powerful Principles to Endure Suffering by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
What does the Bible say about dealing with chronic pain?
6 Ways Your Pain Has a Purpose By Josh Daffern
The Emotional Impact of the Pain Experience (hss.edu) by Maris Pasquale, LMSW