2 Things Chronic Pain Teaches Us

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 23, 2024
2 Things Chronic Pain Teaches Us

Is it impossible to... embrace joy amid suffering that doesn't cease?

I lied to a student today just after seventh period, walking through the halls on my way to the copy machine. 

"How are you?" Their smile beamed brightly. 

"Good, how about you?" I retorted. 

"Really, really, good." They waved, "It was great to see you, Mrs. Ginter. I miss you and your class."

"You too!" I cried out. 

It was a sweet conversation. But honestly, it was a lie. 

I'd just spent the last 48 hours fighting pain. I was feeling anything other than "good." When you've lived with chronic pain for the last five years—pain that doesn't seem to end despite endless trials and errors of medication, stretching, and solutions—what else do you say?

When Pain Ceases to Exist

Before dealing with persistent physical and mental anguish, I would say that my response to that student's question would be true. I was happy. Good. Carefree. Lighthearted. Uplifted. Is it impossible to be those things now? To embrace joy amid suffering that doesn't cease? To rejoice in the face of pain? To see things as they will be in Heaven and not as they are now?

These are thoughts I grapple with weekly. Sometimes even on a daily, or hourly basis. And it got me thinking, I can't be the only one who feels this way

Despite feeling alone, I know that I'm not. I know people say they're "fine" every single day when they aren't. Myself, my peers, my students, my family included. We ask "How are you?," but are we really looking for a reply outside of "good" or "fine"? The majority of us would probably say no. 

It's too much time, energy, and effort to re-hash the same story over and over again. We're weary, tired, and honestly wish things were "fine," "good," or "great," and so we say that they are even when that's the furthest thing from how we feel. At least that's how I feel. Maybe you can relate?

When You Can't Take Anymore

By the time I reached my pillow that evening, the thoughts had turned into tears. My pain was a 10/10 and I hadn't slept in 48 hours. All I could see were bleak lines, anguish dancing at every corner, lurching towards my famished and breaking heart. With every breath, I prayed for healing. I pleaded with God to take it away. Screamed into my pillow and crawled on the floor until I couldn't think straight. Laying down in defeat, I crumpled. 

Around 9 that evening, little relief washed over my body. Six rounds of Tylenol and 800 mg of ibuprofen barely skimmed the surface. The endometriosis needs to be removed, but being a teacher and taking 2.5+ weeks off for surgery with unpredictable recovery time doesn't fancy anyone. 

In this mirage of thoughts and conditions, I guess what I'm trying to say is that everyone is experiencing some type of pain that others know nothing about. Even to other endometriosis survivors, I can't compare my suffering. Many, I'm sure, are worse off than what I experience, yet that doesn't negate or minimize what I'm walking through. The same is true for you and your suffering.

While Waiting for Miracles

I'm still praying for a miracle, for God to heal my endometriosis so I don't need surgery and to transform my life. It would be a miracle to have a restored GI track that uses the bathroom normally every day rather than dealing with chronic stomach troubles. It would be a miracle to never experience another anxious thought or depressed mood. To not fear getting sick. To not fear the future. To not fear the unknown. These are all miracles I'm seeking. 

But while I'm waiting, I'm remembering two things:

1. Give Yourself Grace

Growing up, I watched my dad suffer from immense physical and mental anguish. From fourteen on, I've seen pain eat his existence and riddle away his spirit to bone and ashes. The descriptions Job and David give regarding their physical and mental states in the Scriptures truly match how I assume my father feels. I know they often match how I do, and I've only suffered the last few years. 

I've watched my dad believe the lies that he's worthless and will never be healed. That if God wanted to heal him, He would've done so already. That if he doesn't get back to work, he will never amount to anything. That he's too far gone. But what I want to remind my dad, and you, is that grace is a gift. And it's a gift we need to extend to ourselves. 

While circumstances and decisions we make in life can often lead to detrimental and painful consequences, oftentimes, bad things happen to good people for unexplainable reasons. Remember the man born blind? The woman who'd bled for decades? Lazarus who died? Each of these people faced hardship not because they sinned, but because they were human. Why are we any different? 

Giving yourself grace means remembering to take the pressure off yourself to be perfect. For myself, that means realizing I'm going to mess up. I'm not flawless. There are going to be times I can push myself to keep going, and others when I simply need to rest and be still. There are going to be times I can tell my students exactly what I'm going through, and others when I just need to hold it together and move on. Not because I'm intentionally withholding the truth, but because sometimes it's too exhausting to unpack and explain it. And as exhausting as our stories might be to tell, our Creator knows and sees us right where we are. Because of His grace, He is grace for today, tomorrow, and forever. 

2. Rest in the Promise of Healing to Come

The second thing chronic pain teaches us is to remember that even when God doesn't choose to heal this side of Heaven, He someday will. This is an extremely difficult thing to remember when pain is at its highest. I want to be real with you. In those moments of agony, the last thing I want to think about is my pain not ending until I get to Heaven. And yet, it can still console and comfort a weary and hurting soul. 

There were many people in the Bible Jesus miraculously healed. But what I think we often forget is that there were people still waiting and praying for their miracles. Many whom didn't receive them until they gave up this earth and entered eternity (Hebrews 11). And that brings me encouragement. Not that I would wish suffering upon them but comfort in knowing they've been where I am. Walked in my shoes. Felt the pain I feel. 

As we go in peace today, my friends, don't lose hope. I won't pretend to know or understand exactly what types of pain you're facing. I've seen enough in this lifetime to know that while mine is hard to navigate and I fully validate that, many have it worse. But I want you to know I'm with you. I stand with you. I see you. Even if you lied to the coworker who asked how you were feeling simply because you were too exhausted to answer. And God is with you, sees you, and is for you, too, offering grace, love, and mercy with an outstretched hand and warming embrace. 

Remember, Jesus knew pain, too. And He's with you in yours. 

Jesus wept, too. And He's weeping with you. 

Through the pain and the tears. 

Reminding you to not lose hope. 

Setting your sights on what's to come. 

Now and forevermore. 


Agape, Amber

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Lazy_Bear

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a teacher-turned-author who loves Jesus, her husband Ben, and granola. Growing up Amber looked for faith and mental health resources and found none. Today, she offers hope for young Christians struggling with mental illness that goes beyond simply reading your Bible and praying more. Because you can love Jesus and still suffer from anxiety. You can download her top faith and mental health resources for free to help navigate books, podcasts, videos, and influencers from a faith lens perspective. Visit her website at amberginter.com.