I have dealt with different types of pain in this life: emotional and psychological pain due to traumatic events and deep loss, physical pain due to a chronic condition and spiritual pain when it seemed like my God was far from me. I’ve learned that if you spend your life trying to avoid pain, you blot out the good aspects, too. Trying to keep pain at bay keeps everything else at arm’s length. Somehow, pain is inextricably linked with this life. Beth Moore once said that to the capacity that you can feel pain is the capacity to which you can feel joy. It was something I took as a promise at that time in my life and looked forward to the joyful part. She was right.
With my most recent bought of physical torture, I realized something. I choose to reveal some of the details to you only to prove a point. One of my most frequent issues is in my shoulders, upper back and neck. If you’ve seen a muscular chart, you’ll know that there is a large triangular piece of overlapping muscles that runs the width of your shoulders and from neck to mid-back. If I have neglected to give my body a workout, stress starts to build in those muscles, causing them to tighten and eventually spasm. I tend to be unaware of the build-up until i feel a burning in my shoulders at the base of my neck. By then, there’s no stopping the symptoms. My neck locks up, my right arm is almost unusable and any movement brings on a constant ache. I can’t sleep, and functioning is boiled down to the absolutely necessary.
In those times, my brain functions differently. As a woman, my brain never stops. It’s busy thinking, connecting and feeling at all times of the day. But during one of my “episodes”, my focus and thought life become very narrowed. It is as if all of my energy and will is being forced through a very small opening. It probably could be called survival mode.
And then I realized: every event like that in my life has forced me to focus on one thing — my Heavenly Father. The pain of whatever type has honed my focus, had me turn to the only One who can make sense of it all — even if the only “sense” I receive is more of Him. In that turning, my relationship with Him — not surprisingly — grows and deepens. He IS the promise in this life.
So here is what I am going to try the next time my body rebels. I’m going to sing or think praises. Not because I’m glad to be in pain. Pain sucks. But because it’s always worth it to focus on the Promise.