Thoughts on suffering…

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My arthritis is back, and bad in my large joints right now. My lower back and hips hurt constantly! I feel like I freeze up when I sit or lay down and getting up is one big groan. It’s in my knees and ankles and feet too.

I feel really blessed that I haven’t had to deal with this for a few years. Around 5 years ago I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, an inflammatory arthritis of the spine, that in some cases affects other joints. (It’s an autoimmune disorder, where the body attacks itself.) It’s pretty strange how I found out I had it, and I’m really glad I did. Sometimes it’s nice to have a medical confirmation of something when you feel like your going crazy! Back when I was first diagnosed I was experiencing pain in all my joints and they burned all day long. My sacroiliac joint was where the inflammation was seen in an MRI (that’s the joint at your back hip meeting area…). But it really was everywhere. I tried very specific diet changes, natural helps, and lots and lots of ibuprofen. When we got pregnant with August it went away for awhile! It actually stayed very minimal until after this baby.

Well, now it’s back. How it affects me changes daily and weekly. I’m wondering if a lot has to do with the weather. During the heat of summer I don’t remember feeling too much of it. Not so now!

I have a specific brand of vitamins that I take that help ease things, and I use some essential oils, a pain relieving lotion (when I remember) and lots and lots of ibuprofen once again!!

I hesitate to talk about it much, because I don’t want it to limit me. I also don’t want people to limit me and what they think I can or should do. I think in some ways it makes me work harder at some things just to prove I CAN do all the things. (Ah pride, not a right motivator.) I wonder though…maybe, just maybe, I can do more because of this.

Unless you have walked in chronic pain yourself, it can be really hard to truly understand and empathize. I know because I’ve been free of it and entrenched in it. It really is different! Not to say you can’t understand to a degree! I am so thankful that the Lord would choose to open my eyes and heart to the world of chronic pain. Mind you- mine does not even begin to compare to what many other people are living with!! I feel like my own is very tolerable. I’ve heard stories of some people’s physical chronic pain that I just can’t even imagine. It really had opened my eyes though. It’s put physical suffering on my radar in ways it wasn’t before. It has also given me a way to connect with other people. I start to hear their story and I can really understand. And since I’m an introvert and small talk kills me, when I find this area of connection, I’m really able to jump in and have a conversation.

Friends, I debated about sharing. I think my greatest selfish fear is that others will use this to try to limit me, like I said earlier. They will suggest I not take on more responsibility or adopt children or go into the mission field. But the thing is, it’s only pain. And He allows it for His glory. And there is so much to be done here on earth before I reach eternity, that my comfort should not be my priority. He should be. And this discomfort can either drive me to seek comfort, or drive me to my knees. Jesus, let it drive me to my knees!!

Friends, whatever your struggle or pain, let it drive you to your knees, and then up and out towards others! It is so easy to become very myopic (self focused) when you are in physical or emotional pain. I’ve walked that road too. It’s part of the process I think. But as you seek to become more like Christ, thank Him for allowing the suffering in your life and ask Him to use it for His glory. That might sound crazy-ridiculous-radical to some, to THANK GOD for your suffering, your pain, your struggle. As I’m writing this though I’m preaching to myself too! I need to remember! When you thank Him, you begin to accept where you are and your heart begins to develop true gratitude. He lovingly will open your eyes to how He can, will, and already is using your suffering!

Remember to live in light of eternity. Don’t let ‘the now’ bog you down and cloud your vision. Ask Him to use the struggle to keep your eyes on Him and keep eternity in mind.

Jesus, thank you for using all things for your Glory. May my good bring you glory Andy struggle bring you glory. I pray that all eyes would be on you. I pray your Kingdom would come. Thank you for what lies before us! Help me even when the ‘now’ doesn’t make sense to me to remember that it has some purpose for eternity. Help me to know that it is when I am weak that I am made strong in You, and that’s when you lifted up. Yes Lord! Amen!!

“But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak , for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

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