Pain is an unfortunate reality on this side of eternity; the question isn’t if we will suffer but when. How do we cope with pain in our everyday lives? Dr. Mark Wheaton says the struggle to handle chronic pain is different.
“People deal with pain vastly different ways…when it comes to chronic pain, you’re talking about something that you can’t just step away from. Everyone can handle a sprained ankle and it gets better, but when it comes to chronic pain, it becomes much more of an in-depth thing. The Bible has a lot to say about this.”
Dealing with physical suffering is far from easy, but Dr. Wheaton points out that emotional and spiritual suffering only add to the challenge.
“Most of the New Testament that talks about suffering isn’t physical; it’s about suffering persecution for the cause of Christ, for living our faith. So when you combine chronic pain, which is quite physical, and then transform it into ‘what is God teaching me through this?‘ It might be a little different than thinking about being persecuted for my faith.”
“I think God is trying to really teach us more about Him through our suffering, to become more Christ-like. We exult in our tribulations (Romans 5:3). Of course, we don’t enjoy the tribulation— whether it’s a physical trial or whatever God brings our way— it does not seem joyful for the moment. But the tribulation or the trial does bring perseverance in our lives and character and hope.”
It’s important to remember that Jesus understands the depth of our suffering, in a very personal way.
“God is not indifferent to our pain: whether it’s physical or emotional. He really gives us grace to go through the trials we have. He gives a person who’s in chronic pain more grace; we become more Christ-like because we’re able to understand His sufferings more. He can sympathize with our weaknesses, of course He did that without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may have received mercy and find grace to help the time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16). We’re going to draw close to Him in prayer, and we’ll receive that mercy and grace He promises.”
Dr. Mark Wheaton is a board-certified medical doctor specializing in the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation, also called physicality. He has additional training in the field of sports medicine and over 21 years of experience in the management of chronic pain.Finding God in pain and suffering