For those who suffer chronic pain ... or are enduring a season of pain from surgery, illness or trauma ... my friend Xochitl shares her secrets to coping.
When I'm In Pain
By Xochitl Dixon
I winced, easing into the recliner sofa as my husband, Alan, stepped into the kitchen. My service dog, Callie, spread her fifty-pound body across my lap to apply pressure as she was trained. She scrunched her brows, rested her head on my chest, and gazed into my eyes. I inhaled as pain crept from my back to my shoulders, neck, and head. I exhaled a prayer. "Help me, Jesus."
The sounds and smells of my husband preparing our Taco Tuesday feast triggered an all-too-familiar wah-baby-meltdown. I didn't like cooking, but I despised knowing my fight with chronic pain prevented me from doing such a simple task. Tired of my countless limitations, I tried muffling my sobs in a purple fleece blanket. Why wasn't God rescuing me? Couldn't he see I'd grown tired of persevering?
Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). The command sounds simple but feels impossible, especially when I'm hurting.
Proving his faithfulness, God has wrapped me in peace while carrying me through past seasons of suffering. He has never minimized or dismissed my concerns. So, why can't I be still and depend on what I know to be true, what I know won't change - his Word, his character, his heart, and his promises?
When I'm distracted by the intensity and duration of my pain - whether physical, emotional, or mental - I seek relief, strive to endure, and end up discouraged and depleted. Consumed with fixing my situation, I fail to acknowledge God's constant presence and trust he's working while I'm waiting.
Stillness gives me an opportunity to breathe, to stop grumbling about what I can no longer do and be grateful for all God is doing. He knows and understands me, even when I lose sight of hope because I can't see beyond my current situation. When I am in pain, I don't have to muffle my sobs or deny my struggles. I don't have to beg for just-enough strength to get through another day. I can submit to the Holy Spirit, asking him to be my power source.
Breathing prayers - inhaling Scripture and exhaling praise - connect me to God like a lifeline. Knowing God's Word and character never changes empowers me to be still - to lift my hands in surrender and stop fighting him. In the quiet, he reminds me that I'm not alone and I'm not the only one hurting. God, my ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1), comforts me so I can comfort others with the same comfort I received from him (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Even with my limitations, I'm not useless in the hands of my limitless God. But he requires time and my willingness to be still so he can work.
As I continue struggling with pain, I'm still learning to appreciate the gift of stillness and pay attention in the quiet. I'm still learning to respond to life's circumstances, braced on the firm foundation of my faith: Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Some days are easier than others. But I'm grateful when God reminds me I'm not alone. Neither are you.
Xochitl Dixon, author of Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God's Plan and Pace and the children's picture book, Different Like Me (coming August 2020), contributes to Our Daily Bread and Guideposts' All God's Creatures. Serving Jesus with her service dog, Callie, Xochitl encourages spiritual growth through community while celebrating the differences and sameness of God's beautifully diverse people. She enjoys family-time and connecting with readers at www.xedixon.com.
Xochitl Dixon is a guest on the God Hears Her podcast, hosted by Elisa Morgan and Eryn Eddy.