Rejoicing in Pain

Romans 5:3-5 Rejoice in Suffering

I had a horrible weekend. Actually, that’s not true. I had a really great Saturday, going on my first kayaking adventure with my husband. But it was a long day and I pushed my body too hard, which resulted in a miserable Sunday. I’d experienced a little bit of swelling and a minor headache leading up to the weekend, but it came raging in full force on Sunday, with a headache that made me nauseous, swollen and painful hands and feet, and strange inflammation in my back that made it difficult to sit or lay down. It was one of those days where I didn’t want to do ANYTHING. I couldn’t nap because I felt so bad, and only made it a few pages into my book before having to ditch that beloved pursuit.

When I look back on my life just a couple of years ago, I realize that the pain I feel today is actually quite minor, compared to what I used to consider my “normal.” But it seems the harder I work and the more time I spend trying to get better, the more frustrated I get when I have a flare-up.

With my frustration comes the flood of questions:

Why can’t my body handle something as simple as kayaking?

Why is this happening to me? Am I being punished?

Why NOW? I’ve been working so hard and been so diligent in my diet…especially this week.

What if they were right? The people who questioned my decision to quit my job because it might not help me to get better?

I don’t have answers to those questions, but after dinner I decided to try a different book, and picked out Surprised by Suffering on my Kindle. I only made it a few chapters, but it had a big impact on how I viewed my current condition.

The chronic pain that accompanies an autoimmune disease is quite frustrating. Especially in my case where there is no official diagnosis and the triggers seem to be completely random. I have another friend who has similar mysterious health issues, and we began talking about our frustrations the other day. She’s been praying for healing for a long time, but God doesn’t always heal when we want him to. I’m reminded of my mom, and how much she suffered in the last few years of her life. And yet she endured it with a smile on her face and without a single complaint. Because she knew what was coming, and she believed that as long as she was still living, God still had a plan for her. So I am determined to confront this temporary pain with the same faith and trust as my mom and many who have gone before me—knowing that Christ, who took on ALL suffering, reigns. Maybe my story will someday be a witness to His power and glory, like the many who He healed when He walked on this earth.

 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5: 3-5

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