Last week I had a surgical procedure that resulted in a great deal of pain. And, for the four days after the procedure, I was oh, so grateful for medicines to relieve pain. Happily, the need for pain medicine has subsided, and I feel that I am back on the upswing once again.
But, as I’ve thought about my own pain, numerous faces have come to my mind who endure pain constantly. My pain was acute — at least according to the definition — in that “it came on quickly and is expected to go away in a matter of weeks or months if treated properly.” Acute pain is temporary and results from something specific such as an injury, cut, infection, or in my case, surgery. Chronic pain, on the other hand, lasts much longer and even continues past the time when the original problem has healed. People with chronic pain are likely to include those with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), back, neck, pelvis and head pain. I have several friends who have battled migraine headaches for YEARS. I can’t imagine that kind of suffering and the toll it takes on a person’s body and psyche over time.
What about all of my friends battling cancer? Not only do they have physical pain from chemo, radiation and all other kinds of treatments, they also have emotional pain springing from the many unknowns in their lives during and after the treatments end. Each twinge is a reminder that The Big C could come back to strike again.
It’s hard to think about anything other than the pain itself when we experience it. We just want somebody to “make it go away.” In all likelihood, we are not the best versions of ourselves when we’re in pain. I’ve known very few people who were consistent witnesses for Christ during such times. An instance I will never forget involves my dear friend Ruth Cost who died in 2000. I had the honor of playing for her funeral. But, several years before she died, she had to have a large portion of one of her lungs removed. Steve and I went to visit her in the hospital in Birmingham after her surgery. Even though she was in obvious pain, she used a soft, kind voice and greeted everyone (nurses, doctors, family members and friends) who came through her door graciously. I was in awe of her display of Christ-likeness.
No one WANTS to be in pain, with the possible exception of a woman ready to deliver her long-anticipated baby. And even then, in my case, I was HAPPY to have a saddle block (epidurals didn’t come along until after my children were born).
My conclusions this week?
I am a chicken about pain.
I am not as compassionate as I should be toward those who are in pain. My children would step up first to testify to that fact. When they woke up on school mornings complaining of stomach aches, sore throats, headaches, etc., my standard first response was “Just get up and stir around a little bit and you’ll feel better.” Sometimes that did indeed solve the problem, but other times I ended up with vomit on the carpet because I didn’t take their complaints seriously. And, no, I’m not proud to admit this.
The good news is that there is coming a day when there will be NO MORE PAIN. Hallelujah!
Revelation 21:4 “And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or PAIN; the first things have passed away.”
What a day that will be!