Did you know that pain in our bodies can sometimes be attributed to us holding on to or trying to repress emotions, memories, and traumas from the past or it can also be attributed to current experiences that do not serve us any good? Dead weight that we continue to carry from day to day and from one phase of life to the next can also have an impact on our bodies as well. And though the pain is usually temporary, if not properly addressed it can have a long lasting impact, not only on our bodies, but on our lives as well.
From 2004 to 2014 I went through a considerably long period of physical suffering from back aches, muscle aches and joint pain. The first diagnosis was a bulging disc in my back. I was prescribed pain medication and muscle relaxers and sent on my way. With no relief, a few years after the first diagnosis I went to see a neurologist where I was constantly poked, prodded and shocked to test my muscle and nerve reaction to pain – NOT FUN. I went back to the neurologist several times before finally giving up and drawing the conclusion that a diagnosis could not be provided without further endurance of what I thought was unnecessary pain. Several years later I went to see a rheumatologist who diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. He handed me a pamphlet with information about the diagnosis, prescribed me an anti-depressant (insert a confused face here) and basically told me to have a nice day. I was so frustrated and disappointed that all I could do was cry, and then cry some more. Hopelessness is the only way to describe it. I had received the long awaited diagnosis, but deep down inside I felt that there was more to the story.
I remember posting about my experience on Facebook, and a former high school classmate made a comment on the post that was so encouraging that I had no choice but to change my perspective. She simply stated, “Your pain has an expiration date.” That was all she said, and that is exactly what I needed to know in that very moment. The hope that her statement had provided, the peace that her statement yielded and the comfort that was felt cannot be explained. It was a very simple statement, yet packed with so much power.
To be honest, up until that moment I never had any hope that the pain would end. All I could see ahead of me was more pain and I tried to be as prepared for it as I could. I had ever found the ability to see myself living pain free. My mother was always sending me ideas for possible solutions and trying to help in the best way she could. People were always giving advice on what I should and shouldn’t do, but I don’t think anybody really understood what it was like to consistently live in the pain. And though the pain was physical, it became emotional and mental as well as time progressed. I literally had no hope and the loss of hope can have a detrimental impact on your life.
Pain has an expiration date! Whether it is physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – it will end. Truth is, we learn to deal with it. We learn to tolerate it. We learn to accept it and move on through life because we have things to do. We can’t afford to just wait it out. It becomes a part of us and it either ruins us or we flourish in the midst of it.
When she said, “your pain has an expiration date,” almost immediately I stopped focusing on what I had lost in the suffering and starting anticipating what I could gain from overcoming it. I stopped focusing on the things that I wanted to do but couldn’t, and the things that I had tried to do but wasn’t able to and I started looking to God with an expectation that he was going to move in the midst of my pain and ultimately heal me in my situation.
Fast forward to 2020… NO PAIN! The pain expired, just like she said it would. Here I am living without pain since 2015. I am a living witness that God heals and delivers just like his word says.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
While I do understand that my pain did not end just because she said that it would, but rather her statement and my belief in it enabled the beginning of the end. I had to see beyond the physical suffering and discomfort and realize that my pain had a purpose and that its expiration would only come following the serving of that purpose.
Pain and suffering can be gut-wrenching, but we find in the scriptures that it never ends without the power of God supernaturally working through it. We have to allow God to work. We have to trust that he knows what he is doing. We have to know that his purpose is greater than what is testing us and believe that there will be a greater gain when we face times of pain and suffering, no matter the difficulty that is faced in the process.
What do we need to know about suffering?
- Even as believers, we will endure suffering (mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually) and the Bible recognizes that we are affected by suffering in many forms. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8–9
- Through our suffering we are equipped to minister to others. The help that we have to offer comes from the personal trials that we endure. God keeps us through our pain and suffering as he refines us and reshapes us more and more into his image. As believers, we apply the bandages to the scars of our brothers and sisters in Christ as we encourage those who are down through prayer and with the word of God. “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
- Suffering is a battle for our souls. It will either draw us closer to God or pull us away. How we respond to suffering is key. Do we respond with praise or do we respond with complaining? “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4
- God will bring us through our suffering and He will keep his promise. The suffering may be where it gets rough, but its not where it ends. One day we will look back and see where God has brought us from and see that it was all for his glory! “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6