Gods grace in our suffering: How chronic pain brought change to my life

I don’t know exactly know what you are going through, nor the variety of pain you have had to overcome, but I do know that all of us have asked the question “why has God allowed me to endure this”. In my own life, I have had very challenging past seven years, dealing with a rare form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, which sometimes makes it feel like I am carrying an additional 80 pounds on my back at all times. Every day since 2010 I have always had to cope with some level of pain, and it has prevented me from doing the things I love like running, weightlifting etc. On top of that, I manage my own law firm which is fairly stressful, and I am very involved in political work which I enjoy but it is taxing. Through the years of these trials with stress and pain I have often reflected on this verse, in which Paul state that “8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12-8-10)

            I never understood this verse fully until now because it is easy to trust God when times are good and we are healthy, but when we have to deal with trials in whatever form they take, it can seem like God is far away. But the truth is that God didn’t come to this world to make our lives free of pain, but to make them full of purpose. Jesus lived as one us and suffered not only on the cross, but throughout his entire life. People hated him, his own family thought he was crazy, his close friend betrayed him unto death and Peter turned his back on him in his time of need. Jesus knew pain my friends so when you are suffering know that the Lord may not take away the pain but he will use it to bring you closer to him if you let him. In my seven years of suffering this pain disease, I can say that it has forced to depend on God in a way I never would have, and it has made me emphatic to the pain of others which isn’t something I had prior to this condition.  Sometimes It does get frustrating, but if I can remember that God is Good and he is in control than whatever pain I endure it doesn’t seem so bad.

There is an old hymn called “Jesus I my cross have taken” and it was written by a man who knows what it was to deal with profound loss. Henry Lyte was born in Scotland in 1793, and had an absentee father who eventually left his family when Henry was very young. Thankfully through that experience Lyte was adopted by a good family who loved him in a way he never knew from his actual father. In time, he become a minister and composed some truly amazing hymns that inspire lives to this day. He also had chronic health issue related to his lungs and spent much of his life in pain. Yet he was known for being one the most joyful and humorous ministers in Scotland. God didn’t give him the life Henry wanted but he gave him the life Henry needed to be effective. The following lines sum up what Henry’s relationship with god looked like

“Man may trouble and distress me, Twill but drive me to thy breast, Life with trial hard may press me, Heaven will bring me sweeter rest, Oh tis not in grief to harm me, While thy love is left to me, oh twere not in joy to charm me, were that joy unmixed with thee

            My favorite part of this is “Oh tis not in grief to harm, while thy love is left to me” because that shows that God isn’t allowing suffering our lives simply to harm us, but to help us trust him even when the pain comes and doesn’t seem to relent. God is good my friends, and even if you suffer in a way that has made you run from God then I ask that you just stop running and let go. First, God is a much better runner than you are J and I promise you that if you yield to him he will turn your sorrow into joy and give you peace even in the storms. When I was young I taught on these concepts but through my years of suffering with pain I know understand what they mean. Whatever your going through please know God does love you and wants to walk with you through it. Don’t spend your whole life trying to hide your pain from others. God didn’t make us to go through these things alone and sometimes it is trying to escape that pain that can be ever worse than the pain. Anyway, I hope this short devotional encouraged and if you have any questions or something you want to share please fill free to e-mail at reidfirm@gmail.com

About the Author: I am a Birmingham attorney who has been in private practice for over six years. I have a general practice, so I get the opportunity to help serve people who find themselves in some very difficult circumstances. My e-mail is reidfirm@gmail.com. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it encourages you. I always love getting thoughtful comments so please email those to me. My website is www.reidlawalabama.com.