Revised September 16, 2015
It’s 3:29 am as I lie in a bed in an emergency room, unable to sleep, waiting for a hospital room to be made available. After crawling out of my house to a gurney, with the help of an EMS crew, I am finally enjoying some comfort after excruciating back pain.
My journey with this medical crisis began about four weeks ago, about the time I resumed praying for churches on Gramazin. Over the past month, walking has been difficult and sitting pretty much impossible. When I turned the wrong way today, my back and leg transformed into a four-alarm fire.
I have known divorce. I have known grief. I have known financial crisis. I have known depression. These adversities have been intense and have made life seem unlivable at times.
However, intense and unending physical pain truly is different.
It reminds me of Job. Satan “enticed” God (NIV) to give Job hardship of unimaginable proportions. However, a line was drawn – don’t touch his health! I believe this is because God knew that physical pain can challenge a person’s spiritual well-being unlike anything else.
Satan wanted that ultimate test of Job’s character. God, confident Job would pass the test, agreed. Job was then inflicted with sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.
Think about it. Job most likely couldn’t put on shoes or walk. He most likely couldn’t sit or lie down. In other words, his ability to go about his daily affairs and his ability to rest were both taken away from him.
His misery was 60 minutes an hour for 24 hours a day. He was so miserable he began to cut himself, using broken shards of clay. It is in that misery that Job begins to dialog with his friends about suffering.
Jesus’ miracles seem to have a common theme. He heals people of a physical ailment, such as blindness or bleeding, that has left the person exhausted, unable to function emotionally or spiritually. Jesus frees them of the physical distractions that hijack their thoughts and feelings.
I am a veteran of emotional heartache. Therefore, you should not consider my words insensitive to those who are experiencing adversity that is not medically related. However, such people do get the chance to sleep, sit, and walk pain free. Such physical relaxation has emotionally restorative benefits. Get a good nights sleep or go for a walk in the woods to clear your mind, you are stronger for your emotional battles.
However, what if you can’t do anything but lie motionless on the floor because of the intensity of your physical pain? You will find it next to impossible to have articulate thoughts about hope, courage, and recovery because you just want pain relief!
I share this to say to my friends in physical pain I understand how it can drain you of the emotional stamina you need to battle your other problems in life. It is so important that leaders in churches understand that physical pain must be reduced to something manageable so that the person can be ministered to in their other issues in life.
Next time someone you know is experiencing unending intolerable physical pain, be compassionate and help them find healing. You will be helping them strengthen to then do battle with their other problems.