This is the 4th post in a series on Hope When the Pain Doesn’t Go Away
Where do we find our hope in the midst of chronic pain?
We find it in choice and change, in the small steps we take each day.
We find it in considering the possibility of a better earthly future.
And we next find hope in the strength God promises is available to us as we struggle to live through the daily, painful reality of chronic pain.
Our hope cannot end in the possibility of change and the prospect of a better future. Hope in possibilities is a start, but hope in guarantees is where we will find our healing and restoration.
We must find a type of hope that is guaranteed, because even when we make all the right choices, do all the right things, pray in all the right ways, and trust in the right God, many times our circumstances still do not get better. Sometimes our futures are not brighter than our pasts.
This is the crucial point. This is where we get stuck. This is where we must urgently search for hope, less we fall prey to misguided philosophies that point us only towards less pain, less suffering, and more comfort. When the pain and suffering stay, getting worse instead of better, we put our hope in God’s guarantee that strength is available to us, regardless of the pain we face.
Far from promising us easy futures, we are told to expect trouble, yet in our trouble we believe in a God who has overcome this troubled world. Far from being able to bear chronic pain in our own strength, we need the strength of God and his mighty power to pull us through.
And God provides this strength when we most need it. We have hope because we believe in a God who is strong when we are weak. In our own strength, life looks bleak and we have no hope when the pain comes to stay. We can’t survive on our own, handle this on our own, or live out this life of pain on our own. Daily, hourly, minute-by-minute, we call out to God to give us strength to bear what we are unable to bear on our own.
In II Corinthians 1, Paul describes a time on one of his missionary when he felt a weight of suffering that was ” far beyond [his] ability to endure.” Indeed his suffering and situation were so dire that he “despaired of life itself.” Many with chronic pain and illness have found themselves in situations such as these. Situations that were unendurable. Situations that were life-threatening.
What do we do in these situations that are beyond our strength? We look to a God who is with us, knowing his is our only hope.
Paul says that that his suffering and trials and near-death experiences happened so he and his fellow missionaries “might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead…
“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”
There is no hope in thinking we can get through by our own strength. So we look to “he on whom we have set our hope.”
God’s deliverance in chronic pain and illness happens again and again and again. Each day he delivers us through the long hours. Each moment he keeps us alive and breathing. In those situations that are beyond our strength, God calls us to reliance on him instead of reliance on self.
Each day, we crave the prayers of the many believers who surround us, knowing that it is often through the prayers of others that God responds and delivers. Hope comes when we draw strength from God and from the prayers and help of those who surround us. Hope comes when others see these prayers answered and believe in this God who saves.
God gives strength to endure what is unendurable. We hold on to God’s promise that he will lift us up when burdens drag us down and tear us apart. Indeed, looking back on the days that have past, the burdens that have been born, and the sufferings that have been dealt, we sometimes wonder how we ever survived. How did we ever make it through?
We need not wonder long. For we know it was the hand of God upon us, the hand of God that holds life and death, heaven and earth, health and sickness in a firm and unwavering grip.
The hand of God that turns our minds towards hope and our hearts towards peace when there is no earthly reason to feel that way. The hand of God that enables us to get off the couch when all is pain and all is torment. The hand of God that gives us the strength to go to work, serve our families, and remain faithful when all is unsure.
The hand of God that gets us through every painful day and night alive. He will see us through to the end of this long lifetime, when we will stand before his presence.
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