I’m sitting in my recliner right now, the warmth of a heating pad pressed against my back and hip. It’s a familiar scenario, one I’ve repeated countless times the last three years, after hip pain slowly began robbing me of the active life I had just begun to reclaim from ulcerative colitis. Ice packs have taken up permanent residence in the freezer, and nightly my nostrils are filled with the scent of the pain-relieving cream I rub on my aching joints. After Ava was born, I had a period of about 3 months where my hips did not bother me, and I rejoiced. Since then, however, the pain has crept back up. Pain has been a companion of mine, and while I once hoped and thought he would be a passing acquaintance, it seems that Pain would rather be my bosom buddy.
You might be wondering what pain has to do with blessing. I have wondered the same thing. I have prayed many prayers that the pain would leave, and I know my prayers have been joined by those of my family and friends. Yet God has not seen fit to release me from the pain, in spite of the various ways I have tried and tried to find an end to it. And while I have spent more than one day in tears, pleading with God to take away the pain, I have spent many other days thanking God that He has afflicted me, for the affliction has been for my good.
Pain reminds me daily that I am needy, that I am imperfect and dependent on others, and it is this neediness that sends me to Scripture and to prayer. Pain reminds me that this world is broken and makes me thankful for the Christ who will one day come and make all that is broken whole once more. Pain reminds me that though I am weak, Christ’s power is strong in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Pain reminds me that though my flesh and my heart may fail, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26). Pain reminds me that though my outer self may be wasting away, God is renewing my inner self day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). Pain reminds me that though sometimes I am sorrowful, the God of the universe has made note of every tear I’ve shed (Psalm 56:8), and one day He will wipe them all away (Revelation 21:4). He sees my pain, and He does not leave me alone in it. And on the days when the pain is less, I rejoice and give thanks for the reprieve and know that there are many for whom there is never a break from the pain.
If I were writing my story, I doubt I would have included pain as a chapter. But I am glad that my life is in the hands of One far wiser than I, for I have seen the way that pain has drawn me closer to God and revealed my sin and weakness. I am thankful that in God’s economy, nothing is ever wasted, not even pain.
“Pain is no measure of His faithfulness. He withholds no good thing from us.”