I want to talk to you about a subject today that I don’t like to talk about but I am sure there are many of you that deal with this on a daily basis and that is, “Living with Chronic Pain.” Why do I not like to talk about this subject? Because I deal with it on a daily basis and I was determined at a young age to allow God to help me deal with it instead of having to talk about it to others.
I had my first major back surgery at the age of 14 because of a severe case of Scoliosis. That surgery was back in 1973 when the only thing doctors knew what to do was surgery. Because my curvature was so severe at 69 degrees, there seemed to be no other option than major back surgery. So on December 10, 1973, I entered University of Virginia Hospital for what would be a 9 hour back surgery and I would leave with a 10” Harrington Rod in my back and a body cast. After a week in the hospital I was able to go home to West Virginia, but unfortunately I had to return to UVA hospital about two weeks later due to a blockage in my stomach where the body cast had been put on without a large enough hole to allow my stomach to expand when I ate. I can remember hearing the doctor tell my Mom, “She looks like a little green pea and if she has to go through another surgery for the stomach blockage the chances of her making it through are very slim.” You can imagine how that felt to a 14-year-old. But my Mom called back home and got a prayer chain started at our home church and the next morning when they took me for an x-ray of the stomach blockage, God had answered those prayers and the blockage was gone.
The body cast was removed and I spent the next 6 weeks in the UVA Children’s Hospital flat on my back with plenty of time to think and pray. It was there during my stay that I surrendered to full-time ministry and although I didn’t really know what that looked like, I knew God was calling me to serve Him full-time. God allowed my stomach to heal and they put the body cast back on and I was able to go back home and back to school with this huge ugly body cast on and finish my freshman year of high school.
Due to that back surgery and the stress it caused on the lower discs in my back, I had to have a second surgery in 2004 and now I am fused from L-2 to L-5 with two rods and 8 screws. As a result of these surgeries I have lived in chronic back and nerve pain for many years. I call this, “My thorn in the flesh” that God has given me and I am determined to allow Him to use it to bring glory to Him. So every morning I ask Him to help me get through the day and give me the strength to live under the pain. He has honored my prayers through the years and has used this pain to minister to others.
We all deal with pain differently. I am thankful that my Heavenly Father has given me the pain He has chosen for me because I can look around every day and see others that are so much worse off than I am and I am thankful I can still walk. I have had to be on medication for several years now for the nerve pain in my left leg and foot and praying that it continues to work for me. I am thankful that is all I have had to take through the years because I know there are many other medications I could have to be on, and many of you probably are taking, that have way more side effects than Lyrica.
I have chosen not to concentrate on my pain and what I can’t do, but to concentrate on what I can still do. If I allow myself to think of all the things I can no longer do it just makes me sad, and that doesn’t help me or my situation. So when my mind goes there and I’m tired of hurting and could just cry because I can’t go enjoy doing something that I used to be able to do, I ask God to help me concentrate on what I can still do and be thankful for those things.
So whatever chronic pain you may be living with, I pray God will give you the emotional, physical and spiritual strength to carry that cross every day and be a shining testimony for Him. He sees the big picture and knows what is best for us so I pray you will allow Him to work His plan out in your life.
It may not be easy, but He has promised He will not put more on us than we can bear and He will be there with us to help bear it!
My life verse has helped me many days and it is Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”