Sometimes, one thing leads to another
My injury was hidden. I hyper-extended the big toe on my left foot. Without knowing it, I began walking differently to avoid pain. The change in my gait resulted in more pain on the outside of my foot. After six months and four doctors, I got my diagnosis: stress fracture.
From the outside, I looked fine, but I wasn’t. I was in a lot of pain every day and I couldn’t live a full and normal life.
At three different offices, they x-rayed me from multiple angles. Plus the MRI. The last doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, said, “All the diagnostic studies show normal anatomy and there is nothing to suggest that you have had any injury,” he paused to let that sink in. I knew that. I had read the reports too. Then, I got all choked up when he said, “But I know. You’ve been in pain for a long time, haven’t you? Don’t worry. We can fix this.”
Have you been living with pain for a long time?
Maybe you’re emotionally spent. You have a troubled child, an aging parent, a joyless marriage, a soul-sucking job? You lost a dear pet. A friend betrayed you. You’re disappointed with yourself and your life. You battle anxiety, and every day you are waiting for the next bad thing to happen. Maybe you’re just terribly lonely.
Many of us carry heavy baggage around. From the outside, we have a good life, or there’s not much to complain about. And now we add guilt to the burdens we carry because—it could always be worse:
- On FaceBook, someone’s raising money for a child who has cancer.
- There’s someone at church who was in an accident and is on crutches, rehabbing a broken foot.
- In the news, there’s word of real persecution—Christians are dying for their faith.
Our problems seem so trivial next to these.
Invisible pain is still pain.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28, NASB
Your heavy burden—the Bible calls it trouble, affliction, suffering, a trial, or a difficulty—let’s call all of it “pain.” You can tell yourself the pain isn’t really affecting you, that you’re doing ok, but understand: pain will change the way you walk.
The Hebrew word that means “to walk” is Halakh, which also means the way you live or conduct yourself. When you’re in emotional or spiritual pain, your walk will diminish. We all do this. To avoid adding shame to our pain, we minimize risk. We keep quiet about difficulties in marriage, failure in children, disconnection from friends or family. We hide sin, so we won’t add rejection to pain.
As we hide pain and brokenness, our Halakh becomes broken, too. We live scared, small, and alone.
Sometimes it feels like
it will hurt worse if we say it out loud.
And it probably does. At first.
During the physical exam, the doctor squeezed my foot so hard! I yelped a little. Tears sprang to my eyes. He found my pain point and that was the beginning of my recovery. Finding and sharing your pain point may seem impossible, but you can’t move past pain without acknowledging it.
We can live authentic and wholehearted lives, even when pain is a constant companion. We aren’t meant to put on a good face at church or tell friends we’re “fine,” when we’re a mess. When we come to God in prayer, He wants us to speak truth—confession of sin, confession of need, cries for help, wordless groans—because sharing with God gives us what we’re most desperate for, closeness with Him.
God sees our deepest needs, whether we share those burdens with Him or not.
I couldn’t ice, stretch, or heat my foot enough to heal it. Acknowledging my limitations was critical to my recovery. I needed more than what I could do alone. When we come to Him, God’s always willing to help us deal with our pain. He knows it’s really too much for us to carry.
The way we’re restored is a mystery.
Healing just happened. Somewhere, during the twelve weeks of wearing the boot, my stress fracture healed. I couldn’t begin to guess when it started, but somehow I was restored.
Here’s the greatest comfort: God works in the invisible places. He’s restoring when we don’t know He’s working at all. If you give Him a burden, you can trust He’s at work. If you don’t see progress or healing, He’s still at work. When you wonder if He has forgotten about you and your troubles, He’s working for you.
Don’t be deceived by what you see, hear, or feel. God is faithful. He is always working to redeem the unredeemable, heal the broken, make straight the crooked, and bring life out of death. In the middle—though we don’t know how He does it—we are restored.