By, Lysandra Osterkamp
“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
1 Corinthians 12:8-10
There I lay on the floor of my living room as motionless as a statue. I couldn’t move. The pain was too great. My children ran to get my husband, “Mommy’s stuck, Daddy! Mommy’s stuck!” My husband came running to see what was going on. I winced, “I can’t move. It hurts so bad!” I laid there for a while and soon I was faced with the ugly truth.
I would have to face the pain and allow my husband to help me up. He said, “We’re going to get you up fast.” He took both of my hands and began to pull. I screamed in agony as he pulled me off the floor. I shuffled my way to the car, bent in half. Tears rolled down my cheeks as my husband drove me to the chiropractor. She was unable to relieve me of my torture.
That severe pain on the living room floor was only the beginning. For nine straight months I was in terrible pain every day and every night. The pain drove a wedge between me and my husband. We couldn’t be physically close and so we felt emotionally distant. I begged God to heal me. I prayed. Other people prayed for me, but every day I faced pain. As days turned into months, I begin to lose hope and realize I may feel this way for the rest of my life. This may be who I am now. That thought was terrifying! It almost broke me.
"Why won’t God heal me?" Has that thought ever gone through your mind?
If we truly understand God and how powerful He is, then we also understand He has the power to heal at any moment. So, when we ask God to take the pain away and he doesn’t, it doesn’t mean he can’t take the pain away, it means He won’t. That makes God seem unloving and unkind which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Just because He won’t take the pain away doesn’t mean He doesn’t love us or He doesn’t care about us. It means He has a greater purpose than our relief. Look at what happened to the family that Jesus loved dearly from the Bible. John 11:4, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” Mary and Martha called for Jesus to come because Lazarus was sick, they wanted him to heal their brother. But he wouldn’t. John 11:6, “When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.”
His plan was bigger than Lazarus’s illness. God‘s plan is bigger than our illness and pain. John 11:4, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.”
I don’t know what God is doing through your pain, but I know He’s doing something important. I know God’s character and I know He loves you. There are many different positive aspects that can come from our pain. Through our discomfort we learn lessons. Through our pain we can understand others in their pain. Through our illness we become dependent on God. Through our suffering our relationship with God grows closer and deeper. Our pain humbles us.
During my nine months of severe back pain there were moments of acceptance and moments of despair. There were times I would lay in bed with a wooden cutting board under my back and cry. I would just call out to God and say, “Why won’t you take this away from me?” His answer was the same answer He gave to Paul thousands of years ago, “1 Corinthians 12:8-10, “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” I learned to fully depend on God to give me the strength and grace to survive my suffering.
Looking back, I wouldn’t change anything about it. The moments of despair were the moments I turned to God. The moments of acceptance were a time of sweet communion with my Savior. He knew what He was doing when He wouldn’t heal me. I’m thankful he didn’t bring relief right away. I experienced His unmatchable strength in my severe weakness.
If you are surviving chronic pain or illness, be encouraged. God loves you. He sees your agony. He cares about the suffering. He has a plan and a purpose for you. God wants to be your strength. He wants to encompass you with His grace. Trust Him, turn to Him, cry to Him, believe in His goodness through your pain.
When God won’t heal, He has something bigger in mind.