Life as a christian with a chronic illness comes with a unique set of complexities; our faith is tested frequently, with our heart and head knowledge challenged by the state of our physical health. We know that God is a healer, but the pain within our bodies can feel like a contradiction. After an elongated time, it’s understandable how a person can become unnerved and despondent. This can cause an individual to question God and where He is in the midst of their struggle. Fortunately, that is an opportune time for someone to gain understanding of God’s presence within their pain.
Over the last few years, I have been on a journey of understanding God’s presence in my pain and will share what I have learned in this post. My hope is that this will encourage you in your faith and help you to gain further understanding of God’s presence in your pain also.
Am I The Only One To Ask This?
Having a chronic illness comes with a complimentary rollercoaster ride; filled with challenging thoughts and feelings about our circumstances. I went through a dark season of questioning whether God had abandoned me, had left me to suffer with pain for the rest of my life, or whether my illness was some type of punishment. I assumed I was alone in feeling this way – until I started sharing with other christians with chronic illnesses.
Later on, I came to realise that those thoughts and questions I had were not only common – but rather patterned. Not only in my own life, but also in others’ too. Certain patterns of thought are set up by the enemy, in an attempt to build resentment in our hearts against God. If successful, it can hinder us from having a strong relationship with God. Thankfully, God has a way of working with us in our darkest times; utilising them to mould, shape and strengthen in the long run. If you want to read more about how God does this, read Your Pain Is Not In Vain."Certain patterns of thought are set up by the enemy, in an attempt to build resentment in our hearts against God. If successful, it can hinder us from having a strong relationship with God." Understanding God's Presence In Your… Click To Tweet
Understanding God’s Presence
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9
The church never shies away from talking about God’s presence in the midst of one’s struggles. We know that God is with us in everything and can take comfort in that. It helps us to feel secure as we are reminded that we are not alone in whatever we may face. However, this can be something that people know in their mind, but don’t always know or feel within their hearts. The reason as to why may vary.
The way we interpret and understand the word of God, impacts how we connect with Him. Take a moment to ask yourself, what does it mean to you when you hear that God is with you during your pain? For many of us, our initial go-to answer would be that God is with us – by our side.
This interpretation is something we are familiar with and experience a form of on a daily basis. We live our daily lives with chronic illnesses, we may have friends and family members who are by our side literally. However, they don’t feel the physical pain that we feel. If I had a migraine attack while my sister was sitting next to me, she wouldn’t physically experience the same pain that I am enduring. Rather, she would witness the impact that the migraine is having on me.
As a believer who used to think on the literal interpretation, I wonder whether it is possible that people have placed God in the same position within their minds? Do they view God as somebody who is witnessing their pain from the outside? Could this explain why some people may feel a type of disconnection when they hear that God is with them?"Do people view God as somebody who is witnessing their pain from the outside? Could this explain why some people may feel a type of disconnection when they hear that God is with them?" Understanding God's Presence In Your Pain by… Click To Tweet
Ever Watched ‘The Shack?’
If you haven’t watched The Shack before, I highly recommend you do. It is a fantastic movie with many teachable moments. There are debates about whether the movie is biblically accurate, but it is still a profound watch.
The movie is about a man who has pulled away from God after a traumatic loss. He receives an invitation to spend a weekend at a cabin, but the invitation is from God.
During his trip, the protagonist asks God many questions that we are all familiar with. One of the topics that came up was the usual “where were you when this traumatic thing happened to me?”. It was evident that the protagonist was hurt and angry towards God. He expressed that he felt God had abandoned both him and his late family member. In this scene, God’s first response was “When all you see is your pain, you lose sight of me.”
This response had resonated with me because we know what it is like to be in so much pain physically, that our bodies cannot function or process anything else. We also know how that can impact us emotionally and spiritually. The pain can be so overwhelming, that it clouds our judgement.
The protagonist then accused God of abandoning Jesus when he was on the cross. God’s response was, that he never abandoned Jesus. At this point, the actress who plays God (the idea is that God presented himself in a motherly, nurturing form as that was the type of interaction the protagonist needed), shows her wrist to the man. She had the same scars on her wrists that Jesus was described to have upon his resurrection (John 20:25-27). This revelation conveyed that God wasn’t just a spectator during Jesus’ crucifixion. Rather, God was physically present within Jesus; everything that Jesus experienced on the cross, God experienced first-hand also."God wasn't just a spectator during Jesus' crucifixion. Rather, God was physically present within Jesus; everything that Jesus experienced on the cross, God experienced first-hand also. " Understanding God's Presence In Your Pain… Click To Tweet
Our Pain Is God’s Pain Too…
I chose to share ‘The Shack’ example with you all because that revelation of God’s physical presence truly resonated with me. I have heard many times that Jesus was fully God, fully man. However, seeing it represented through film helped me to grasp that when God says he is with us, he is not just an onlooker who is witnessing our pain. He is not just by our side, but through his spirit he is also within us – experiencing the same pain that we experience. When we deal with debilitating migraines, joint pains, nerve pains and every other ailment – God is right there experiencing it with us."When we deal with debilitating migraines, joint pains, nerve pains and every other ailment – God is right there experiencing it with us." Understanding God's Presence In Your Pain by Tasha Marie Click To Tweet
So please know with all your heart that God is not just watching you struggle from a distance. Whenever you read or hear that God is with you, remember that he is within you and everything that you feel, he feels it too. That’s how much he loves you. You are not alone in this. Don’t forget that the bible tells us nothing can separate us from the love of God – that includes your pain. I encourage you to read Romans 8:31-39 for a more in depth reminder of this at Bible Gateway.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s loveRomans 8:38-39
Be encouraged Warriors. Whenever you feel misunderstood or like you are going through this all by yourself, let this serve as a reminder that God has not abandoned you and never will. He has promised us that he will never forsake us (which means abandon, give up on).
“I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”Hebrews 13:5
The Key To Understanding God’s Presence In Your Pain…
Understanding God’s presence in your pain is ultimately a journey and process that takes time, maybe a lifetime. It is vital that we cling on to God and stay focused on Him, as it will strengthen our bond with God. In turn, a stronger bond with God grants you with more wisdom, peace and guidance. The bible is very clear that we will face adversity and hardship. However, God will give us the peace and strength that we need to endure and overcome everything.
“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances...I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.“Philippians 4:11-13
The key to understanding God’s presence in your pain, is to remember to not lean on to our own understanding at all. We must continue to consume God’s word, gain knowledge and understanding from it. We must also continue to spend quality time in God’s presence, as He will reveal more of himself and His ways to us through those times.
"The key to understanding God's presence in your pain, is to remember to not lean on to our own understanding at all." Understanding God's Presence In Your Pain by Tasha Marie Click To Tweet
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”Proverbs 3:5
Warriors, my prayer is that you will be comforted by this, that you will continue to move forward by faith and grow in Christ one day at a time. This journey is definitely not for the faint of heart, but we will persevere and we will rise above the challenges that come our way as God is with us and within us!
Until next time Warriors,