Why has my pain been perpetual And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream With water that is unreliable? Jeremiah 15:18 (NASB)
Your thoughts about pain as well as your personal history of pain will also factor into how you respond and react to it. One person who has lived with pain for a period of time will be emotionally worn down from it, another will view it as a challenge to be overcome. Some will respond with depressive thoughts, and still others will remain upbeat and optimistic throughout.
I am often asked to counsel women who are in chronic pain, and I see the effects of it on lives every day.
Linda, who has a progressive form of neuropathy and works in spite of being in terrible pain every day. Carmen, who has been diagnosed with Fibromyaligia perseveres through each day as a pre-school teacher; and Jean, who has had Multiple Sclerosis for decades and walks with two arm canes.
Like everything else, pain will reveal what is going on in the heart of a person. If the heart of the sufferer is on themselves rather than on God, how they respond to the affliction will be very different than when the heart is focused on glorifying God in spite of the pain.
The heart that is fixed on “self” will make relief from pain its focus. The person’s whole identity can become wrapped up in their pain and seeking relief. They live life through the perspective of being a victim. It would be common to hear them utter phrases like those in the box.
As difficult as it is to understand a person who is focused on relief from pain has become an idolater. It is idolatry because there is no room for anything in the heart other than “relief” and seeking relief becomes the object of worship. There is little to no room for worship of God in their heart.
It would be highly unusual for a person to knowingly seek out this type of idolatry, but remember, the heart is deceptive and wicked (Jer. 17:9) and often we deceive ourselves. A person’s thoughts, beliefs and desires will reveal what the heart is focusing on.
If you are a chronic pain sufferer, I would challenge you to prayerfully examine your heart in light of Scripture. What thoughts do you think with respect to the pain you live with? Do you believe that God does not know how much you hurt? Do you desire relief more than you desire to glorify God in spite of your pain?
If you now understand that you have become an idolater there is hope for change! Jesus has come to forgive sin, and your release from the sin of idolatry begins with confession and repentance.
Tomorrow we will continue looking at this subject and try and answer the question, Where is God in My Pain?