Women who suffer with chronic pain often feel isolated
They struggle and need support—physically and also spiritually.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4, NLT)
Pain has been my companion over the last six months. When we suffer, it is tempting to think we are the only ones who are going through these severe trials. We think no one can understand what we are going through. We may feel abandoned and alone. Have you felt this way?
During this time I learned to be more sensitive to people who live with pain 24/7. I learned that personal trials and suffering give us a new compassion for others who are in pain. Someone who has suffered can minister with great compassion to another who is experiencing adversity.
Listening to the stories of women in many countries, I learn that pain is their companion. Many feel alone and rejected, perhaps losing hope. A familiar Bible character felt the same way. Elijah felt fear and hopelessness. Even after experiencing God’s amazing display of power at Mount Carmel, he found out that Jezebel sought his death—and he ran. Elijah was experiencing intense pain and fear. He felt despair. In his distress he prays, “I have had enough, LORD...Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors" (1 Kings 19:4, NLT).
The beauty of this story is in seeing how a compassionate God dealt with Elijah’s pain and exhaustion. Did you notice that his prayer was not answered? But God did not condemn him for his plea for death. Instead, God provided the rest and restoration Elijah needed. God had better days ahead for Elijah. And God has better days ahead for you as well. He is willing to give each of us new hope, new grace, new mercies every morning.
Yes, suffering often makes us feel isolated. That’s why it is so important to keep God’s perspective during our trials. Sometimes this may seem impossible, but with our hand in His, we can learn to find the blessings in our pain. A change in our way of looking at life—from our way to His way—will surprise us with beautiful insights.
The reality is that people who love and serve the Lord will at one time or another suffer physical pain, emotional pain, or relational pain. As Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33, NIV). But there is hope.
He does not promise to save us from the pain, but He surely promises to save us in the pain.
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like eagle’s!
(Psalm 103:1-5, NLT)
by Raquel Arrais, associate director of General Conference Women's Ministries
Three helps for ministering to women with chronic pain
They may not look sick or weak or unable to cope
[Post Credit: Revive Our Hearts]
Statistics show that one in three people in your church suffers chronic pain. Physical pain ranges from mild discomfort to debilitating affliction. One may struggle to exercise and keep up with housekeeping chores. One may not be able to carry groceries or pickup a child. One may not function enough to get out of bed. Most of the time you will not hear about the physical pain (they rarely ask for help), and you may not know that emotional and spiritual implications accompany chronic pain.
So what can you do, as a leader, to minister to the hurting women in your congregation? How can you support them, both spiritually and physically? From personal experience, Kristen Wetherell (kristenwetherell.com) writes about three specific helps that strugglers, like herself, often desire and need (even if they do not admit it).
1. Pray for us...
To share. Women don't want to admit this need, so pray that we will make our struggles known and seek help. Most importantly, pray that we will learn dependence on Christ.
To endure. Chronic pain can easily steal our joy and deaden our hope when our eyes aren't fixed on Jesus. We're tempted to lose heart. Pray that "though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self [will be] renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16), and that our suffering will produce endurance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3, 4).
To heal. While we don't know God's will for our pain, we still ask you to pray for our healing. God can do abundantly more than all we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). God hears your prayers on our behalf in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:11), so boldly ask Him to remove our fleshly thorns. Believe me, we are often making the same request.
2. Meet with us...
For counsel. Dealing daily with chronic pain can take a toil on us not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually, as we groan in our earthly tents (Romas 8:22; 2 Corinthians 5:2). We grieve the health that's been lost. We struggle with questions of faith. Our relationships often look different because of our pain. Ask us searching questions. These can help us see our sin and struggles more clearly and delight in God's truth more fully as a result.
For encouragement. We need encouragement from Scripture! Point us to God's love that will increasingly cast out our fears (1 John 4:18). Help us view our chronic pain through the lens of eternity (Colossians 3:2). Remind us that we're able to persevere through Christ's strength (Philippians 4:13). Share your struggles with us and tell us what God is teaching you; your faith will bolster ours.
For understanding. We hope that our times of meeting together might be useful and encouraging to you as you see our faith being exercised in suffering (Romans 1:12). We want you to better grasp this ongoing battle we're fighting so that your ministry to women will be strengthened.
3. Support us...
With practical help. It can be so tiresome to even think through our needs, that it is often too much effort to seek help. We do appreciate your proactive care in organizing the body of Christ for practical help (Acts 4:32), like cleaning our hopes, delivering groceries, childcare, errand running, rides to doctor's appointments. These acts of service greatly bless us. We do appreciate your proactive care in organizing the body of Christ for practical help (Acts 4:32), like cleaning our hopes, delivering groceries, childcare, errand running, rides to doctor's appointments. These acts of service greatly bless us.
With pastoral care. As you seek to know us and show us the love of Christ, would you inform our pastoral leadership about this chronic battle we fight? We glean God's truth from their preaching and would love to be kept in mind as they create sermon application points, especially, on the topic of suffering. For those who are laid up in bed because of pain, pastoral visits, and corporate prayer mean the world.
This article is slightly adapted from its appearance, July 30, 2018, at Revive Our Hearts by Kristin Wetherell