When I began this blog over 2 years ago, I began it mostly as a way to communicate updates to my family and friends while sharing how God was growing me spiritually through my suffering with the hopes of encouraging others with chronic pain and illness. I've read lots of blogs where people share their battles with diagnosis and treatment of chronic pelvic pain, but in the end most of them seem to get at least some better.
That's really the kind of blog I wanted to have. I wanted to share about my journey with pain intertwined with devotional spiritual growth posts of how God was working all this for my good, and then evetually end on a happy note that though my life wasn't 100% "normal" anymore, I had come through the worst. I have appreciated the ministries of people like Joni Eareckson Tada and Lisa Copen of Rest Ministries, but I didn't want to be the person who lives with continued debilitating illness.
I can honestly say I am thankful for my pain. I've seen a lot of good come from it....I've grown in my faith, learned so much, met some great people, my family and friends have learned about the realities of chronic pain, my daughter is growing up to be empathetic to suffering, our marriage has been forced to focus on "the primary things", and the list goes on and on. But I feel like, "I've been there and done that". I've suffered for "a little while" and my faith has proven to be genuine (1 Peter 1:6-7), right God? So isn't it time to remove this trial from my life?
Even early into my pain journey felt like I would probably always have some chronic pain to deal with long term, but I really thought that I would eventually have a better quality of life again. Unfortuantely though my condition has just continued to decline. I may have a few weeks here and there where I am a little higher functioning, but I've continued to develop new and worsening pain as the years go on, and I am still unable to sit for more than a few minutes or do the things that most young mothers do without a second thought.
I know I am only 6 weeks post-op hip surgery. I knew going into it that recovery would be SLOW and I would not likely see overall improvement in my pain levels for several months. My hip pain from surgery continues to improve and I am beginning to get back on my feet and do a little more. But hip pain was just a very small part of my overall complex pain, with the most debilitating pain being in my pelvic floor and sacrum/low back. I was/am (depending on the day or even hour!) hopeful that the hip pain was a big piece of the massive puzzle of my pelvic pain. And maybe it is....but it's hard to believe that the two are related when I still have the same old pains I had pre-op and new pains from surgery. It's so difficult to understand how these pains are going to get better when I can't do basic strengthening for my hip without flaring up.
Lately it honestly feels like this is it. I mean, I have tried so many treatments without relief and if this surgery doesn't help, then I don't know what to do because I don't really understand what exactly is causing my pain. The last four years have been so hard. Not only are we dealing with the loss of my health, but also the loss of our dreams to serve as missionaries overseas, the frustrations of living off one low income, and living in a town we don't want to live.
And if I continue to be honest, I've been struggling with a lot of bitterness towards others because of things they have done or things that they haven't done that I want them to do. I want people to understand my struggles and care for me more. I'm frustrated that my husband has a seminary degree, but is working horrible shifts in entry-level retail management. I want to move to a bigger city so my husband can get a better job and I can have more access to medical care, but God just doesn't seem to be opening doors, and many days I am so lonely and tired of not being able to do what I want that I could scream!
Recently, my husband confronted me and said, "You aren't really bitter at these other people or frustrated because of where we live, you're mad at God." Ouch! Of course I said, "No, I'm not...you don't understand!" I'm not angry with God...I'm long past that struggle, right? But the truth is I'm not. I get angry because our circumstances are not what I want, people don't do what I want, and God doesn't answer my prayers the way that I want.
But what does God want?
Later in 1 Peter, we see some of the things God wants for His children:
"Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct," 1 Peter 1:13-15God wants us to set our hope that on a healthy body, living in an exciting place, and an important job? No. We are to set our hope on the grace that will be brought to us when Jesus comes back to Earth to claim those who have been redeemed. And while we wait for His coming we are to be holy, imitating Jesus in our conduct, not following our sinful desires and the ways of the world.
We should not sit around with long faces thinking "woe is me" because we've been born again to a living hope in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 1:3), and this is what we rejoice in (1 Peter 1:6) even if the "little while" that we suffer is the 80+ years of our life on this Earth. That is still a "little while" in comparison to eternity! Isn't it better that I suffer if that is what it takes to make me more like Jesus so that my faith will result in faith, glory, and honor when my life on Earth is finished (1 Peter 1:7)?
I know these things are true. But let's be honest in the day in day out trenches of suffering believing these truths are not always easy. The pull of this world is hard, and I want to have my future heaven on Earth now. But even if my physical health is restored, it will eventually fail again at some point in my life, and in the meantime there will be other sufferings arise. Afterall, Jesus told us this we would have tribulations in this world (John 16:33).
I may one day get to a point where my pain is less and I can resume a more high functioning lifestyle (I sure pray that I do!), but at the same time I have to be willing to accept that life may not get better on this Earth. Being angry with God will not change my circumstances. But, rejoicing in Jesus, striving to be more like Him by His grace, and setting our hope on our future inheritence does give a life of suffering great purpose.