Many of us are seeing and experiencing pain so tangibly these days. Writing a post like this right now feels completely different than it would have two years ago. We see pain all around us, every single day. It can be observed in our friends and family, in our own lives, and within the strangers we pass by.
We often don’t know what to do with pain, whether it be mental or physical. We either just grow up handling it the same way our family of origin handled it, or we just try to figure it out all on our own (which doesn’t always turn out so well when we become adults).
Many of us have learned to make the pain we feel go away at all costs.
Think of all the ways we see people dealing with the pain in their hearts and bodies. We can hurt others because we, ourselves, are hurting.
This doesn’t make our pain go away, though.
Many addictions are built around trying to numb or distract us from pain. Pornography addiction has skyrocketed over the past year and a half. I have talked to numerous women who started looking at porn for the first time, along with those who started again after walking away from it a long time ago.
Years ago, I handled my own pain by stuffing it down. I did that for years. Then I wanted to feel something other than hopelessness and depression, and I started looking at porn. My plan certainly worked. Looking at porn caused me to feel all sorts of things other than what I was used to feeling, but it caused a host of other problems that drove me even deeper into pain. It also caused my husband and marriage a lot of pain. It all snowballed.
How do you deal with pain?
We can try to distract our hearts and bodies from pain by getting over-involved in activities or involved in a relationship that distracts us for a time.
What would happen, though, if we stayed present in the midst of the pain instead of trying so hard to make it go away?
I don’t mean becoming miserable, giving up, and staying there forever.
I don’t know about you, but I have come to the conclusion that when I feel pain, I start immediately evaluating how to make it go away. As fast as possible. Who wants to feel pain, right?
Many of us avoid pain in ourselves and others because we don’t know what to do with it. We may try to overlook it, pretending it is not there. Maybe we try to numb it or distract ourselves from it. Or we feel it so intensely that we get lost in it.
Others can seem afraid of our pain… so we wonder if maybe we should be afraid of it as well. If we address it, will it become so overwhelming that it swallows us up?
We do not need to be afraid. Where there is pain, the Holy Spirit is close by. He is the Comforter. Jesus is also our Healer. What if, instead of fearing pain, we listened for the Living God and what He wants to do in the midst of it all? The pain around us (and in our own hearts and bodies) can serve as an arrow pointing to the places Jesus wants to invade with Himself.
We can respond by leaning in closer to Jesus.
(I want to mention here that I am in no way discouraging anyone from seeking counsel or help when in pain – physical or emotional. It is not sign of weakness or lack of faith to seek help when you are in pain.)
Something I have learned firsthand is that Jesus fiercely but gently restores us. He fiercely but gently heals us. He comforts and sings songs over us. He reveals truth to us. His grace is sufficient in all ways. His power is made perfect in our weakness.
He will sit with you in the pain.
Yes, Jesus heals the brokenhearted; but He also sometimes chooses to sit with us in the pain without removing it right away.
This is another place where we can build deeper intimacy with Jesus.
Right in the middle of it all.
About two years ago, when I was in extreme physical pain for an extended period of time, I felt so alone. I just wanted the pain to go away. I wished at times that I could numb it all with whatever I could find. I knew that wouldn’t work, though.
Intense emotional pain also came from all of the physical pain I continued to feel. Chronic, long-term pain has a way of wearing on a person emotionally in a deeper way than I even know how to express. I felt so alone in the midst of it all.
One afternoon I saw a picture in my mind of me sitting at the bottom of a well, and Jesus was sitting with me. I wanted Him to rescue me. He didn’t rescue me by removing all of the pain, but He did sit with me and comfort me. He rescued me in another way. He rescued me from thinking that the pain had to be either removed or numbed for me to be ok.
I had learned how to stop numbing pain years earlier when I stopped looking at pornography.
I knew that Jesus could touch my heart and emotions by healing me. I had experienced so much healing already. It was real and I knew it.
He rescued me that day in a way I had never experienced before. He rescued me by showing me how to turn to Him in the middle of the deep pain I felt, even if He didn’t remove it right away.
I am not going to lie. I felt like He abandoned me at first. Now I can look back and be thankful He showed me this when He did. It helped me so incredibly much when I experienced even deeper, more painful times ahead.
As I’m writing this, I am still being healed. I feel more like myself today than I have in years. Even just a year ago, I was in the worst physical pain of my life. It was so scary at times. I am so thankful for how Jesus has been healing me, even if it came in a much different way than I had expected.
Sometimes Jesus removes the pain quickly, and other times He sits with us in the middle of it all.
Either way, I am encouraging you (and myself) to strive to put our focus on Him in the middle of the pain we feel and the pain that’s all around us. It’s intense these days, and we all know it. This is a place where we can build much deeper intimacy with Him than we had before. There is nothing more valuable than knowing Him intimately.