Stop and consider. What if your pain never goes away? What sort of future can you imagine for yourself? Can you still see a glimmer of hope peering through the stormy clouds? Or does a life with unending pain seem barely worth living?
What if we are destined to walk this path of pain and suffering for the entirety of life here on earth?
What if life from now until heaven remains a constant and unending walk through the valley of the shadow of death?
I hope beyond hope for a miraculous cure. I pray for remission. I pray that God would use modern medicine, my physical therapy exercises, and my careful diet to bring me to a better place. I pray and I hope, constantly and continually. But sometimes, the pain doesn’t go away. And when the pain doesn’t go away, I am left to wonder if there is a type of hope that can endure alongside the pain.
Hope is necessary for our survival. The road devoid of hope leads to madness, despair, and wishing for death. Lord, please give us something to hope in. Something real. Something true. Something tangible. How else will we make it?
Too often I have hoped only to fall flat on my face. Over and over and over again I slowly make progress over months and years, only for all of my progress to fall crashing down around me in the course of a few minutes or hours when something goes wrong. And then I pick myself up, do it all over again and again and again, only to slowly rise and violently fall every single time. This pattern, played out year after year is demoralizing beyond words.
God, is there any hope in this deadly grind? In the cycling through pain over and over again? I am scared of hope because hope is dangerous business. I hoped my pain would go away, and it stayed. I hoped God would make a way for my dreams and desires, and he didn’t.
The more I hope, the more possibility there is for disappointment. If I can only keep my expectations low and expect the future to be bleak, at least I won’t be upset when the worst happens. Hope asks me to take on the dangerous task of believing in my heart that, somehow, in some way, life can get better. And when life does not get better in the ways I desire, hope becomes more dangerous than helpful.
I am asking God to teach me about true hope. The kind of true hope that can only come from God. God has promised me, and I am trying to trust Him, that when we hope in Him, we will not be disappointed (Romans 5:5). Are you sure God? Are you sure you’ve got me? God tells me that hope comes out of the perseverance and character we build in the midst of trials, and He says that “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).
He tells us that “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11). And I am asking God to teach me what this means for you and me and our lives of pain. I wish the things God taught me didn’t always seem so abstract. God, what does hope in your love mean? What does this look like practically? Teach us to hope in things that are true.
We will be disappointed if we put our hope in the renewal of our bodies. We will be disappointed if we put our hope in better circumstances, because so much is uncertain in this life on earth. But this hope that is in God and his never-ending, overpowering love – this is the kind of hope that we need.
Hope is found when we believe that God is good, God is love, and God is for us. We don’t know how God’s love will be translated into our lives, but we put our hope in his unchanging nature and infallible words, knowing his love will be poured out in our lives in some way.
Hope is possible, even when the pain does not go away.
This post is the first of a short series in which I will talk about hope and chronic pain. Two words that do not easily tie together. In this series I want to talk about five places God tells us to place our hope when the pain stays for good.
- Hope is found in God’s promise that we have the ability to choose, which means that change is possible.
- Hope is found in God’s beckoning to consider the possibility of a better future. A better life is never a guarantee, but I also know that God specializes in giving good gifts to his children at the most unexpected and needed times.
- Hope is found in the strength God promises is available to us as we struggle to live through the daily painful reality of chronic pain.
- Hope is found when we reorient our own purposes to the purposes of God for our life.
Are you feeling hopeless? Sometimes I do too. Will you follow along and see what God has to say about finding hope in the midst of chronic pain?
I dare you to hope. I dare you to hope wildly and audaciously in the love and promises of God.
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