Precious few of them show character, grace, faith, and hope. Anna does.
I don’t know chronic pain. My body has, in nearly every respect, been free from ongoing pain. As a football player I experienced bouts of acute pain. There were stitches in my chin and a hyperextended knee and a bell ring to the head (maybe the weirdest thing I’ve ever experienced). And while I’m a week into some back pain that’s resurfaced occasionally over the past 20 years, I do not live with chronic pain. Anna does.
She tells about surgeries beginning at four months of age. In her life, she’s had more of them than birthdays.
More recently, a short list from her blog includes:
- Arthritis/Joint pain and inflammation
- Recent hernia surgery
- Foot surgery
- Nerve pain
- Chronic cough
- Sjogren’s syndrome: an autoimmune disease which causes symptoms of fatigue, dry eyes, and dry mouth
- Hip disorder
- Endometriosis/fibrosis – could require surgical removal of colon/ovary (Praise God for a recent answered prayer!)
- Stomach paralysis (gastroparesis)
Those are her conditions cited in four posts that cover a span of only one year.
I can only imagine her pain. I can’t begin to understand the quantity of doctor visits, health questions, financial details, and (online?) research. Nor do I know how chronic pain comes to bear on faith in God, his sovereign working, and his providential rule over everything. Anna does.
Within her testimony she shares, “the real question was – why did God make me this way? I didn’t understand why God made me different…Didn’t he love me? Was he mad at me? These are thoughts that I had repeatedly as a child…I had accepted Christ when I was about 7; however, there were many things I didn’t understand. I didn’t believe God loved me. Often I felt like I had done something wrong and God was punishing me; and therefore, I also thought I might not squeak through the gates of heaven…Realizing that the Bible is the one and only truth was the biggest turning point my relationship with God. It allowed me to enter a full relationship with God by having complete assurance that my sins are washed clean through Jesus Christ.”
What’s been the biggest change for Anna since receiving this complete assurance? Healing? No. No more surgeries? Nope. “Since I have been walking with God, the surgeries have continued and the pain has probably gotten worse as my autoimmune disease has progressed.” Dang. So, what is it? Authentic joy. Do you have it? Anna does.
What’s her current understanding of living with chronic pain as a follower of Christ? She writes, “I do not have all the answers regarding suffering but I know that there is absolutely no way I could survive any of this without God!”
And she eagerly awaits the biblical promise of a new body in heaven. She looks forward to that day. Who knows when it will come? Anna does not. But, God does.
- Are you struggling with chronic pain? How has Anna’s story encouraged you? How can readers of this blog pray for you?
- Is there someone in your life struggling with chronic pain? Could the words shared above be something that you’d share with them?
- Is there any words you’d care to say directly to Anna (or the other “Anna’s” reading that are living with chronic pain)?