When People Get Tired Of Your Suffering And Pain

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When you are chronically sick or pained, people stop caring that you are always, constantly, without a break, unwell.

As Job puts it, “Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.” Job 12:5

How this rings true for those who have been met with the misfortune of chronic pain, of no fault of their own. We might rewrite Jobs words as so: Those who are healthy have contempt for the misfortune of chronic pain as the fate of those whose feet are slipping.

When pain is a constant in your life, people wonder what all the fuss is about when you mention that, yes, you are still in pain, or when you mention that the pain has worsened or changed.

Aren’t you always in pain?” they seem to be thinking. Aren’t you always in pain, so what’s all the fuss about that you are still in pain?

“Can’t you stop being in pain, so we can be normal friends?” are the words behind the silence.

“Can’t you just be like everyone else, because your sickness is an inconvenience to me,” is the unspoken refrain.

“Can’t you just stop suffering, because it is really uncomfortable to me when you just never stop struggling.” 

At least, I imagine people thinking these things. I suppose I should give people the benefit of the doubt. Not everyone thinks these things, but I am certain that some people do. Even some of the best of people.

The words are not actually spoken, but become apparent at that moment when you realize that someone has stopped caring. There is that moment when you talk about your pain, and there is no response. That moment when you have a bad day, but realize that most days are bad days, so that’s not really news that people want to hear anymore.

That moment when you realize that your pain has become such a part of you, such a non-surprise, that people, one by one, are slowly losing their compassion.

It is such an irony that human nature work this way, that we so easily and naturally abandon people at their times of greatest need. We so quickly change with the shifting shadows. When life is going well, we look with contempt on those who are suffering, those who are in pain, wondering what in the world they did to land in such an unfortunate place. It is such an evil part of our human nature that we begin to attribute suffering to some fault of the individual who suffers, and then slowly but surely leave. This is a part of our human nature that we must fight against with all that we are worth.

But the people who leave – or stay only in complacency – make me even more thankful for the people who hang on and actively care. The people who stay around only for the good pain days make me even more thankful for those who keep caring through both the ups and the downs. I am thankful for those who keep caring when the pain doesn’t go away, when life doesn’t resolve into neat and tidy answers and solutions.

May we all be faithful and loyal friends who stick around through both ease and misfortune.

 

4 responses

  1. I think all people suffer. Those who admit they suffer are better able to respond kindly to others in the midst of suffering, I’ve found. Some people won’t admit the truth about this side of existence to themselves, I guess, so they have nothing to offer others except their growing denial and discomfort.

    We watch the uncompassionate ones suffer in their intentional ignorance, oftentimes while being rejected by them, but we at least “get it.” Through aging or a yet undetected illness, things will catch up with them, provided they live long enough. Sooner or later, they’ll admit they’re one of us, too.

    Welcome to reality.

    • I agree that all people suffer. I think sometime the difference is between suffering that comes and goes and suffering that continues without relenting (chronic pain/illness being just one example).

      That is an interesting thought about people who admit they suffer versus people who don’t admit it – I will have to think about that more. In the past I have thought about it more in terms of people who are going through good seasons of life want to shield themselves from the suffering around them, in hopes they can keep it away as long as possible. But like you said, things do eventually catch up for sure. Thanks for your thoughts – lots to think about.

  2. You wrote: ““Can’t you just stop suffering, because it is really uncomfortable to me when you just never stop struggling.”

    Very insightful and piercingly true. And I would add to this that some people may also think, “and I can’t fix it for you and that is really frustrating to me because I do care about and love you.”

    The irony is that, as you say, everyone does suffer, yet when it is someone else, it is more difficult to not only come alongside them, but also remain there. The irony goes further: when *I* am suffering, I want people to come alongside me and be willing to remain there.

    I cannot pretend to fully understand your pain simply because I have experienced my own ongoing pain, the visitor that will not leave and sometimes shouts while at other times simply sits quietly behind the scenes. I try to put my experience of it in the perspective that Paul spoke about with regard to being able to offer others encouragement (2 Cor.). Not that that ties it up all neatly with a bow. There’s no such thing. We can know the theological truth, understand and accept the scripture, and yet remain in the mystery and the whirling disruption of our physical, painful reality. I think it’s okay to know the truth and also say, I don’t know why, I don’t know why now, I don’t know what the reason is, it doesn’t have to make sense to me right now. That sort of thing. Leave room for simply being human and not tying everything up with a theological knot.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughts, and sorry I am just getting back to you! Yes, I do agree that for many people they feel frustrating that they can do anything about it. I do think that can be part of the stepping away, but more often I have seen people step away out of selfishness or fatigue. I do understand the fatigue part. I think I would need a break as well.

      And yes, yes, yes to your second paragraph. Completely agree about not wanting to tie things up in theological knots, while at the same time seeing and knowing pieces of the picture. Thanks so much for commenting! So great to “meet” you 🙂

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