Paralysis is a weird duck. I say, “Oh I can’t feel that” when I shut my foot in a door, but then I turn around and talk about nerve pain and how awful it can be. Weird right? Right. It is the complexity of our nervous system and the signals that get damaged or not.
These past few weeks have brought several stories along my way. One story is of a friend who fell out of his chair and broke his hip. Another story is of a friend who has been newly diagnosed with MS and is adjusting to zero energy, changing numbness and pain. Another story of a friend who is in chemo for lymphoma and contracted Transverse Myelitis. She is dealing with adapting her home to a wheelchair and all the side effects of paralysis. Then there is my sweet friend whose brother was just diagnosed with ALS and already losing the use of his body.
What do all of these stories have in common? Pain. Lots and lots of pain. Gut-wrenching, breath-taking, heart-sobbing pain.
Pain is a horrible and a wonderful thing. There are times when I am glad I cannot feel certain pain. I have spilled boiling water on my legs and never even knew it until I took my clothes off that night and had blisters. However, I get intense nerve pain in my back and legs when I do not have the right cushioning under me or when I have been in one position too long. When my nerve pain ramps up, I know that I need to reposition so that I will not get a pressure sore. Not having pain is nice, but having pain is helpful.
In all of these stories among my friends these past few weeks, I have felt their pain. It hurts me to know they are hurting. So does all of this pain have a purpose? I believe it does.
My friend who broke his hip, is the guy who gave me my power chair. He gave my friend that has TM and is weak with chemo a power chair. He is preparing a power chair for my friend’s brother who was just diagnosed with ALS. He has been a quadriplegic for a long time and even with his broken hip, he is still helping others. Has his pain had purpose? Oh yes! And he is reaching to many others in pain.
My friend with MS is turning to the Lord in her weakness. Does her pain have purpose? Yes, it does and will continue to. It is taking her to her source of strength.
My friend taking chemo and dealing with her new life in a wheelchair on top of it? She has a smile that will light up a room! She knows the Lord is doing His work in her life. Does her pain have purpose? Yes, it does. It is a discovery that she will continue to make on her new journey.
My friend whose brother was just diagnosed with ALS? Her brother said, “If I win, I win. If I lose, I win.” He knows that his pain has purpose and he is looking unto Jesus – the author and finisher of his faith. My friend is strengthened by his strength in his pain. And her pain is bringing her to a new depth in her faith and walk with Christ. One that we do not choose willingly, but one that takes us in the very steps of our Savior as He has walked it before us. That path brings us closer to our precious Lord. We come to know Him in the fellowship of His suffering and that has great purpose.
Pain does have a purpose. Pain lets us know where things are wrong so we can make them right. Pain lets us know we need a doctor so we find the Great Physician. Pain brings us to the end of ourselves so that we look at Him.
Physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain….they all do serve a purpose. Some day, my friend, all pain will be gone. But until then, may God help us to see His purpose in our pain!
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”