Introducing my invisible companion – pain

A sweet member of Chronically Hopeful, Angela, is sharing a beautiful post with us today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time and spoons to be here with us today.

Bio from Angela,

I am a christian and lay-preacher. I worked in finance for 25 years but I am currently unemployed and looking for a new opportunity when my pain is managed effectively. I enjoy writing, public speaking, mentoring young people and spending time with family and friends.IMG-20170818-WA0004

 

When you meet someone for the first time, what do you think that they see or observe about you? Maybe the color of your eyes? Your radiant smile? Your height? Weight? Or whether or not you wear spectacles, walk with a cane or use a wheel chair? It is possible that a person may see and notice all of these outward features but for me, there is one thing that whilst all-encompassing to me, it is something that no one sees. I consider that it is significant but it is also invisible (at least to the untrained eye), and that is my pain!

Pain, caused initially by an injury and then by disease. Pain that wakes me up and often prevents me from sleeping. Pain that dictates my activities or lack of them. Pain that varies, but is my closest companion. I have never asked for its presence, but daily I am forced to contend with this intrusion, this reality, something that cannot be explained and that has a devastating effect on the quality of my life.

 

My “relationship” with pain, for want of a better word, began in the autumn of 1989 following a serious road traffic accident. For about six months I was unable to leave the house alone and needed help with every aspect of my life. Over the months that followed, my father and the physiotherapy team at my local hospital helped me to recover my strength thereby allowing me to return to work.

It was my dream to return to the relatively pain free life with the energy and freedom that many of my peers in their mid 20’s enjoyed. Sadly this was not to be and I had to find and accept a new and unwanted reality. Even though I was a Christian, this was still a challenge.

I was truly grateful for life, after all, how many people do you know that have been knocked over by a fire engine on call and have lived to share their testimony? I knew that I was blessed, but somehow at the back of my mind, there were some nagging questions: Why did this happen to me? Did I do something wrong? Suppose I had taken another route home or left work on time would things have been different?

 

As I battled with questions that I could not answer, I had further complications as I encountered a modern-day equivalent of Job’s comforters. People came to pray, give thanks, and to comfort me but sadly a few came to discover what “secret sins” I had committed that had led to this terrible accident.

Over the next few years as I grappled with the effects of widespread chronic pain, I found myself dealing with people who demonstrated a lack of understanding about chronic conditions and whether or not my pain was real or imagined. I asked God for healing, friends and family came for special prayer sessions, but when healing did not come, my faith was questioned.

 

What do you do when the promises of God don’t seem to apply to you or when you look around and hear stories of miraculous healings? When people question your desire to be healed, to be whole, to once again contribute to your church, your community, your family or even take care of yourself?

 

I didn’t have the answers or the strength to cope with them alongside the fatigue, nerve pain and all the challenges that both fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome, brought to my life.

 

Moving forward however, I try to encourage myself and others by what God shows me through His Word. No matter how hard it is, I still have HOPE! Why? Well after nearly 20 years in chronic pain, I had another life-changing accident, one that left me unable to work and crippled by excruciating pain. Yet in all of this time I have been able to eat, have a roof over my head and I have my basic needs met. Has it been easy? Absolutely not! I lost some things that were important to me but I held on to that all-important, life-saving ingredient, Hope! Here’s how the Apostle Paul describes it in Romans 5: 3-5 ESV:

“3 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.”

Hope as described here keeps us from being disappointed. Life is difficult for those who are suffering, but believing that a better day is coming, gives us hope. The Apostle Paul also has a disability, we are not told exactly what it is, but we know that he prayed three times for it to be removed.  When God chose not to, Paul accepted that God’s strength would be revealed in Paul’s weakness:

2 Corinthians 9: 7-10 Message

7-10 “Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, my grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

 

When I feel weak I go to God to receive strength from Him so that I am able to continue with the life that God has given me. I have lived with chronic pain for 28 years now and some days I am unhappy about the pain that I feel, that no one appears to understand and that no one sees. When my invisible companion tries to control my life, I try to reflect on better days and lift my heart to God who gives me hope.

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Romans Worldview

This was originally an essay on Romans for New Testament. It has a decent amount of applicable information, therefore, I wanted to share on here. I hope if you take the time to read this that you will learn something.

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The way an individual perceives the world is known as his or her worldview; furthermore, worldview influences many different aspects of life, such as discipleship, relationships, critical thinking, and decision-making. Beginning in childhood, the worldview is being altered continuously. Christ and the Bible are two things at the core of the Christian worldview. The Biblical worldview is founded on the Bible. It is an essential building block to uncovering the biblical worldview. Furthermore, Romans chapter eight teaches about the existence and attributes of God, creation, sin, salvation, ethics, and eschatology.

Romans analyzes origin from the formation of the world to the creation of humanity. Paul highlights humans’ sinful nature that started shortly after the creation of the world. In addition, the focus is on God’s existence from the beginning. Creation provides evidence of God’s existence. Additionally, creation reflects God’s nature enabling us to know Him intimately. God understands the complexity of the mysteries in nature. Furthermore, He sustains it. Every molecule of creation brings honor and glory to God.

God is too great to be fully comprehended by humans, while mysteries still remain through Romans people gain a deeper understanding of His character. The characteristics highlighted in Romans are also viewed in other books of the Bible. First, the reader sees that God is Righteous. Numerous times in the Bible individuals see that God is wrathful and some view this as intimidating. Fear of the Lord is an asset. On the other hand, people find comfort in the fact that God provides justice as well as judgment. God is truth. His word is true. He remains faithful never breaking a promise. Furthermore, God is mighty possessing eternal power. There is nothing too great for God to do. His power leaves people in amazement. Paul also describes God as divine. In addition, He is immortal. God always was and always will be God. He is eternal. God creates life. He is the source of life. God is love, furthermore, He demonstrates His love to His people in amazing ways. He gave His only son to die in the place of sinners. God is sovereign over every detail. Despite the fact that God hates sin, He is merciful. Nothing is hidden from God. He is wise. Providing excellent counsel. In addition, He provides hope, even in the darkest seasons of life. The book of Romans provides a small glimpse into God’s character.

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According to Romans, evil entered God’s creation through one man. Specifically, because of the sin of Adam and Eve, the world is flawed. God gave them free will, just as He gives us free will. Humans can choose to love Him or reject Him. There are consequences of sin both on earth and once an individual passes away. First, the wrath of God is poured out. Similarly, judgment is encountered. On Earth, the individual will experience hardships and distress. Hardships and distress can come in many forums. For example, if an individual steals they might find themselves in prison or if a man cheats he might find that his wife leaves him. In addition, Romans says, there is condemnation. Lastly, Romans teaches that the ultimate consequence of sin is death. All humans are sinful, and therefore deserving of death.

Sin is a heavy topic accompanied by heavy consequences, however, Romans reassure individuals that hope is not lost. Righteousness and redemption are freely offered through Jesus Christ. Furthermore, out of His love humans can receive salvation. Paul goes on to explain that faith is vital to this free gift. Furthermore, it is a gift that cannot be earned therefore no one can boast. In addition, Paul speaks of the gift of grace. Through salvation, there is hope for each sinner. Those who receive the gift of salvation receive additional priceless gifts. For example, a peace which surpasses all understanding. Christians are reconciled with God through Jesus. God’s wrath for all humanities sin was poured out during Jesus’ crucifixion.  In addition, Paul explains how the law fits in with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In chapter six, it focuses on the death of sin and victory in Jesus. Additionally, how believers should attempt to live as free people in Christ. “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14, New International Version). Through individuals are free Paul also explains that they are slaves to righteousness. The Holy Spirit is essential to Christians providing sanctification as well as renewed and empowered life. The Holy Spirit lives in believers. Though the Spirit believers are adopted by God, furthermore they are heirs of Christ sharing in suffering and glory. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).

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The Bible provides guidelines for how Christians should act morality and Romans is no different. Christians are held to a high standard in general. In Romans chapter twelve, Paul instructs to be transformed and in line with God’s will. There is a popular phrase that Christians are in the world but not of the world and this is illustrated here in Romans. Romans provides instructions of what Christians should and should not think about. For example do not be prideful. On the contrary, the believer should think of himself or herself with sober judgment. Furthermore, they must do everything out of love, honoring others, and practice hospitality. It is essential to bless others even those who do wrong. In addition, Christians are instructed to live in peace with everyone. Christians should also support others as Paul says to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Furthermore, believers must submit to government authorities. Paul reminds individuals that the Ten Commandments are still in place. He urges the reader to not indulge in sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension, and jealousy. People should respect others personal convictions. In addition, they should not cause one another to stumble. Romans 1:18-32 and Romans 12:1-15:13 focus on ethics and morality but do so in different capacities. In Romans chapter one, Paul focuses on humanity in the past, their sinful nature, and emphasizes God’s wrath towards them. On the contrary, in chapters twelve through fifteen Paul offers practical advice on how to live honoring God. In addition, in the second section, Paul discusses the body of Christ and how Christians should interact with people. Both passages highlight God’s authority and goodness. Furthermore, both address the issues of sin. Though extremely different, both passages offer hope in Christ.

Lastly, Romans teaches about hope for humanity and creation. Creation is liberated from bondage into freedom and God’s glory. There is a beautiful hope of eternal life for believers. Life everlasting with Jesus Christ is promised to believers. Nothing in all of the creation is able to separate God’s children from His amazing love. God receives glory and praise from all of creation and from each life. Paul reminds the believer that it is vital to remain in God’s will. God will work things out for His children.

In conclusion, Romans is an essential building block when constructing a biblical worldview. It includes numerous fundamental truths. The reader learns in depth about the attributes of God. In addition, God’s existence and some about creation. Furthermore, in the book of Romans Paul examines the issues of sin and salvation. In addition, practical advice on ethics is provided for the modern Christian. Lastly, the reader learns about hope for the future, which is an eternity with Christ.

The Blessing of Pain

Returning home from the hospital is a breath of fresh air, however it comes with countless diverse challenges. I tend to forget that being in the hospital demands a lot from my body. Though I feel as though all I did was rest, it is actually the conservatoire. The dehydration and lack of nutrition take a toll on the body. Not to mention daily blood work, new medications, antibiotics, cat-scans, and additional testing. Despite the weakness, towards the end of my stay at the hospital I attempted to walk up and down the hall a few times a day. My strength is still oceans away.

Being admitted to the hospital has drained all of my strength. My to do list swarms my cluttered mind. I desperately want to go back to ‘normal’, but I know if I push too hard too fast my body will not forgive me. Regaining some sort of balance and normalcy is a moment by movement struggle. It is hard to determine if I am pushing myself too hard or not hard enough.  #Spoonie Life Struggles

Of course, it is the end of the semester. Therefore losing ten days is drastic. I am usual complete my school work weeks ahead of time. I hate having assignments hanging over my head. Being behind in school work is a nightmare for me.

After leaving the hospital I reflect as much as my weary mind allows me to about the days before being admitted, the stay, and life in general. I can’t help, but acknowledge the blessing of pain. The blessing of pain sounds bazaar, for lack of a more fitting word. No one enjoys being in pain, it is absolutely miserable. But, God gave us pain for a reason, ultimately it will bring glory to His name and sometimes it is a life savor. Intense pain is a red flag scream, “HEY WAKE UP, SOMETHING IS WRONG.” Many times being a spoonie I ignore these sings. Discerning what is urgent is difficult.

I was informed the night that I was admitted, normal people do not have any signs of high liver enzymes. Normal people experience no pain. However, personally the liver complications nearly broke the pain scale. My pain was without a doubt a ten out of ten.

Honestly, that entire day is a blur, I could not think straight and was consumed with symptoms, pain, and the worst weakness. I nearly feel asleep talking to people at church, which is out of character for me. The Lord truly blessed me though my pain that day. If it wasn’t for the weakness, pain, and my mom I could have encountered permit damage. The negative possibilities spelled out to me were shocking. No one knows how my enzymes rocked up so high then crashed at the speed of light, none of it made logical sense. Without a doubt my condition would have been much worse. It is hard to swallow the pill of beauty and blessings through our pain. “ 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. 

The Lord is faithful and he always provides. He graciously pours out countless blessings in our lives, but we fail frequently to acknowledge them or to understand them. The Lord uses everything for his glory. He can turn our worst pain into His greatest blessing.