What Do You Do with Your Pain?

“The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.”
Psalm 25:17

I suppose everyone develops aches and pains as they get older. My lower back is what troubles me. I’ve tried all sorts of ways to strengthen my back and manage the pain. I remember when my physical therapist told me that the small muscles along the spinal column needed to be stretched and tested. “Fortunately” there was a great machine that would assist me with just that. I knew I needed aggressive therapy, but even the name of that contraption sounded painful: Absolute Isometric Torque.

God has taught me a lot about pain through the years. Pain is not always physical; it presents itself in many ways. There’s emotional pain when others accuse us wrongly, breach our trust, or reject us. There’s the soul ache of grief when we lose someone close to us or when we have to watch someone we love fall into addiction or walk away from God. The pain involved in financial struggles, public humiliation, or personal failure is no less real.

How we handle our pain says a lot about what we really believe. Do we hide our pain? Do we search desperately for ways to “cope”—sometimes adding trouble to our troubles? Does pain strengthen us or make us bitter? Do we try to handle it all on our own? Do we turn to God or turn away? Do we really believe God loves us, wants what’s best for us, and has it all under control?

Fortunately God’s Word has much to say about pain. The Apostle James counsels us to be preventative. Our tongues can inflict a lot of damage; we need to be careful what we say (James 3). We should protect ourselves from the pain of “rich oppressors” and the carnality that can accompany those who are not following God’s commands ( James 5). Proverbs 4:23 instructs us: “…guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” God urges, “…Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.” Jer. 7:23.

There’s no doubt that obedience to God’s Word can save us a world of hurt, but still, there’s no way to completely avoid pain. We all experience the consequences of sin (ours and others), aging bodies, accidents… just in general a broken world. Paul challenges us to view our struggles differently, considering our trials and tribulations as opportunities and focusing on our faith, not our pain (James 1:2). In fact he tells us to persevere under trials despite the pain (James 1:12). When our focus is on Jesus, rather than our discomfort, our loss, and our struggles, we find strength, patience, and endurance. We find our Savior offering, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28.

At times, life just hurts. I’m so glad we have a God who cares, who will never leave us. Even if we can’t see Him in the midst of our pain, we can trust and know that He is with us, refining us and working even this for good in our lives. While medicine, rest, therapy, counseling, or leaning on other Christians may be what’s needed, and even wise, for our immediate pain, I believe the secret of “pain management” is primarily in the being, not the doing…being in the presence of Jesus Christ.

The Power of Truth:

  • “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
  • “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
  • “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut. 31:8

Suggestion for Prayer:

Take your pain to Jesus. Trust Him to carry your burdens.