Today’s guest blogger is Suzanne Holland. Suzanne is a
grateful follower of Jesus Christ, wife to John, and mom to two grown up boys.
She is a Certified Biblical Counselor with the IABC, offering the hope of the
Scriptures to those who are hurting. Suzanne writes on her blog, 
Near to the Healer, and has a special emphasis on ministering to those who suffer with
ongoing physical pain. Her blog is reposted with permission. 
The pain has gotten really bad, and you don’t know what to do. You
can’t sleep at night because of it, and you believe you will absolutely lose
your mind if you don’t get some good rest. You’ve been to the pain doctors, and
all they want to do is dope you up. Or maybe you’ve tried those pain meds, and
you can’t stand the side effects, or concern for what they will do to your body
in the long term has made you decline them in the past. You’ve tried every
natural alternative that’s not clearly forbidden in Scripture, and none of them
worked. Now, you are ready to take just about anything they want to give you,
if you can just get some relief!
Does this sound familiar? Maybe it’s a little more or less extreme
than where you are right now, but if you struggle with chronic pain, you can
probably relate on some level. Most of us in the trenches of physical suffering
will, at one time or another, face the medication question. Should I fill this
prescription the doctor has given me? Could this little piece of paper really
mean the end of my pain and the beginning of a whole new life, as the TV
commercials proclaim?
Before I really get into the biblical perspective here, let me
first say that I am not a medical professional. I am an IABC certified Biblical
Counselor, not a doctor, nurse, psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other type
of medical professional. I am writing from the perspective of a child of God
who suffers, and that is all. Having said that, I do think I’ve learned some
things over my years of suffering in Christ, and that’s what I’ll share with
you today. As I do with my counselees, I will begin by asking you some
questions.
My first question is, where is your hope? Most of you would
probably answer that your hope is in Christ. But I’d like you to look a little
deeper, and see if your hope is truly in Christ alone, or if it is in Christ doing something to
ease your pain. There is a difference. This post delves more deeply into that difference,
and I would urge you to read it as you try to answer this first question. After
that, if you find that you truly have placed your hope in pain relief, repent
and turn from that, placing your hope fully in Christ.  
My next question is, what is your definition of contentment? Is it
possible to be content in pain, or do you believe the two are mutually
exclusive? There is much about contentment in the Bible, and when you read
about it there, you come away with a very different understanding from how the
world defines it. In Philippians 4:12-13, Paul says he’s learned the secret to
contentment in just about any circumstance. His contentment is in the knowledge
that, no matter what God calls him to endure (see 2 Cor 11), he will be content
in it because the very God who called him to do it is the one who will give him
the strength to follow through! In other words, the author of his trial is also
the provider of the strength he needs in order to glorify God in it. Christian
contentment means trusting in God to provide all that you need for life and
godliness (2 Peter 1:3), including wisdom about how to manage pain.
The bottom line in this decision about medical treatment is,
what’s in your heart? Are you looking to pain relief to give you contentment?
One thing I have learned over the course of several trials and many errors is
this: If I am not content (trusting Christ no matter what) in pain, I will not
be content out of pain, either. True Christian contentment has little to do
with the condition of our physical bodies, our pain level, our disabilities, or
any other earthly thing. Christian contentment is rooted in our relationship with
Christ. It is not equivalent to happiness or joy. It is the settled
understanding that, if I have Christ, my only true need has been met.
Having said all that, the question remains: Should I take this
medication, or should I refrain? I cannot, of course, answer that question for
you, because you are unique, and I am not in your skin. But I do have some
general guidelines, in the form of dos and don’ts, that I hope will help you
with your decision.
DO…
PRAY about your decision, and ask others to do so, too.
READ your Bible! There is excellent wisdom about decision making
there[i].
Examine your LIFESTYLE. Are you eating well, exercising to the
best of your ability, and avoiding things that are harmful? A healthful
lifestyle can reduce pain and contribute to your overall sense of wellbeing.
Carefully RESEARCH the medication you are considering. Learn about
side effects, both long- and short-term. (Avoid websites associated with the
manufacturer of the drug.) Make a risk/benefit comparison chart, and bring it
with you when you…
TALK openly with your doctor about this particular medication, and
especially how it will affect your ability to think clearly. Ask him or her
about alternatives. If you can’t have an honest conversation with your doctor,
you need to find a different one.
Seek WISE COUNSEL. Talk with others who also suffer painful
physical affliction, and get their input. Some have suffered longer than you
and will have knowledge and insight that you do not. If you are married, seek
your husband’s input. Ladies, our pain impacts our husbands in many ways, and
they deserve to have some say in our decisions.
READ good books about pain. A couple of my favorites arePain: The Plight of Fallen Man, by Dr. Jim Halla, and Pain: the Gift NobodyWants, by Dr. Paul Brand and Phillip Yancy
DON’T…
WORRY and fret about the decision.
COMPARE your pain and choices to others’. Remember, even two
individuals with the same condition can experience very different physical
manifestations. Your decision is yours alone.
RUSH into a decision. If you’ve read this far into this post,
you’ve been suffering for a while. A few more days won’t make or break your
pain.
Concern yourself with what OTHER PEOPLE will think of your
decision. This is fear of man (Galatians 1:10, Proverbs 29:25). The only
opinion of you that matters is God’s.
There is much more I could write about this subject, but
ultimately, our medication decisions are just that: ours. As we trust God and
pray, He will bring clarity.

[i] Prov 2:1-6, 3:5-6, 18:13, 19:2, 21:5;
16:2, 11:14, 1:5; James 1:5; Rom 8:28-30; Phil. 4:6; 1 Peter 1:13-15, 5:8

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