Chronic pain is a tough one. Every day is a challenge — a monumental task at times to get a single errand run or to choose to not fall into despair. Often times the later is harder for me than the former. I feel like a complete wimp for acknowledging it, but I do get frustrated. I wish I had a natural dispensation to “look on the bright side” but I don’t; rather it is a discipline for me. It is a choice I must make when faced with sheer disappointment, over and over again.
For the time being I have given up on working altogether. The pain is too steady and often times very sharp and stabbing. I couldn’t imagine trying to work while occasionally doubling over in pain! How embarrassing! My mom encouraged me to wait until I had 2-3 “good days” in a row where I experienced less pain before heading back to work. Only trouble is, it hasn’t happened yet! So we are buckling down on our budget and I am trying to make the most of this time. Even with the steady pain, I’m beyond excited to meet our little boy.
I’ve been pondering the correlation between fear and pain lately, and how crippling fear often makes pain worse. I know this has been true for me, especially when I have a new area of pain that I can’t immediately explain or diagnose. It’s hard not to focus (okay, maybe obsess!) on the pain until it’s been figured out. Furthermore, fear is kindled by the question of “how long will this pain last? Will it be for a moment? A day? A month, maybe?” Lastly, kerosene is added to the anxious thoughts when we start to wonder if we will have to live with the pain forever. Trust me, it’s not a good place to be, and by this time the sensation of pain is often times blown out of proportion. At this point, we can choose to either despair or to allow the anxious thoughts to be put to rest by the Holy Spirit who assuredly reminds us that no matter what hardships we face, we will not meet them alone but by His strength and power. Without this reassurance, I have found it’s pretty hard to not spin out of control emotionally and find yourself in self pity and despair. I’ve had lots of practice at this, and yet I find myself still failing at times to look to Christ and to ask Him for help in trusting Him.
And trust Him we must. When the anxiety creeps in again, we must again choose to believe that He is good and faithful and will see us through any hardship He allows us to face.
This passage from Hebrews 4:15-16 has encouraged me again and again:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
This, my friends, is what this blog is all about. Whether going through infertility, or muddling our way through adoption, living through the uncertainties of surgeries and then IVF, and now pregnancy and chronic pain– I am encouraged to draw near to our perfect and holy God (take a moment to ponder just how preposterous that statement is). A God who understands because He suffered too. Just being in His presence is enough, but instead He chooses to give us mercy and grace by calling us His own.
And so on days like today, where I look back over the weeks and can’t remember a day where I haven’t been hurting a lot, I choose to not despair. I choose not to be anxious about these next ten weeks of pregnancy, or even how long I will be suffering the consequences of having stage 4 endometriosis. Instead I choose Christ, who suffered far greater than I, who shouldered all my sins and who lovingly allows me grace even though I don’t deserve it.
His mercies are new every morning, and I can only wonder what they will look like tomorrow!