Ezekiel 34:16a - I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.
You went to work out at the gym yesterday and pushed yourself hard, and today it feels like every muscle is stiff and sore.
You were taking a walk yesterday when you tripped over a branch, across the sidewalk, fell and were injured. The pain lingered so you went to the ER and found out that you broke your arm.
You did a lot of work in your yard yesterday trimming your rose bushes, pulling weeds and moving a pile of wood. Today you find that you can hardly move. Everything is sore.
Two years ago you were in a traffic accident and you still feel a catch in your neck that won’t go away. Your doctor is now suggesting you have surgery to fuse two cervical discs together, but you worry it won’t work and you’ll end up with chronic pain the rest of your life.
Is there a real difference between being sore or in pain? Yes there is and knowing the difference between the two is important for what kind of treatment you will receive.
The soreness from exercise or from doing something you’re not used to doing can last in the short term 24-72 hours and can cause a dull ache. But an injury can cause a sharp pain for a longer period of time than soreness, and sometimes lasts for the rest of your life. There are also certain diseases such as arthritis that can cause pain, also.
Here’s a couple of ways that soreness is different than pain from the article on moveforwardpt.com titled, “Soreness vs Pain: What’s the difference”: Muscle soreness is tender when touching muscles, tired or burning feeling while exercising, minimal dull, tight and achy feeling at rest; pain is sharp at rest and when exercising.
Treatment for soreness which affects muscles can be relieved by physical therapy, stretching and alternating ice and heat on the area affected; whereas, pain affects muscles or joints and is helped by rest, ice, heat, physical therapy and sometimes surgery. Whether it’s soreness or pain, if it lasts more than one to two weeks, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor to ensure that you get the right treatment.
God will also seek you out just as you seek out a doctor to help you to find out what can be done. God will bind up the soreness or pain and strengthen you when you are weak. Take your cares to God and he will help you get through it.
Isaiah 21:3 - At this my body is racked with pain, pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labor; I am staggered by what I hear, I am bewildered by what I see.
You turn your neck and, “Ouch! That hurts!” A pain in the neck can signal that something is wrong that needs to be addressed.
The cause of cervical pain can simply be the way you slept the night before. Sometimes it’s caused by your pillow and you may find purchasing a new one remedies the problem. There are many choices in pillows and they can be specifically designed to fit the contour of your neck thus erasing the problem.
Other times it’s your mattress that’s the culprit; if your mattress is no longer supporting your body properly it may be that it’s time to trade it in for a new one. There are a variety of mattresses. You can purchase a standard mattress or you can choose one such as those made of memory foam or having magnets scattered throughout the mattress.
Another cause for neck aches can be you may have strained your neck. Perhaps the muscles are too tight caused by stress in your life. Other times it may be due to an injury or overuse. A trip for physical therapy or a massage may help remedy this kind of neck pain.
But other times it can be that there is damage to the spine. Compressed or herniated discs can cause the most pain and may mean a trip to your doctor to confirm what has happened. In this case, you may be prescribed a prescription medication for pain or as in the case of a strained neck your doctor may send you also for physical therapy. In the worst cases, you may need to have surgery to repair the damage.
Take a look at the article on medicinenet.com titled, “Neck Pain (Cervical Pain),” which lists the symptoms, causes and treatment of neck pain. I have listed some of them above, others are discussed in this article such as degenerative disc disease and whiplash. Some of the treatments discussed are local injections of cortisone or anesthetics, as well as exercises and stretches.
In the Bible verse above it talks about how the writer’s body was raked in pain and it was like a woman in labor. Chronic neck pain untreated can leave us at our wits end. It is then that we must seek out God for wisdom as to when we should see a doctor and which treatments might be chosen. God cares about your neck and all of the pain you experience. You only need to ask for his help and he will freely give it.
Proverbs 31:21 - When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
They say that if you have cold hands you have a warm heart. However, it doesn’t warm your heart if you’re hands and feet are so cold when exposed to low temperatures that they turn blue and are numb.
Your fingers, toes, nose, lips and ears can feel numb and turn white or blue in cold temperatures, and bright red with stinging pain when they heat up. The trick is trying to keep your body at the right temperature.
It’s like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Goldilocks liked the bowl of food that was not too hot, but not too cold. And the bed she chose to sleep in was not too hard, but not too soft. Everything had to be just right.
That’s how it can be when you suffer from a disease called Raynaud’s Phenomenon. Raynaud’s causes your blood vessels to narrow and spasm when cold and limits blood supply to the areas of your body affected. Stress can also bring about a Raynaud’s episode.
Medicinenet.com has an excellent article titled, “Raynaud’s Phenomenon,” which discusses the symptoms of the disease, testing and treatment.
Though this can be a painful condition to live with, the proper medical care and using measures such taking prescribed medications and wearing gloves and warm clothing when in cold weather, can limit the affects of it.
That’s what the Bible verse above was about - A woman who her family could trust to keep them in warm clothing when it was cold. Let’s be like the Proverbs 31 woman and take the steps we need to live with this chronic condition.
Isaiah 21:3 - At this my body is racked with pain, pangs seize me, like those of a woman in labor; I am staggered by what I hear, I am bewildered by what I see.
You sit in a doctor’s office waiting to begin your appointment. You didn’t know what to expect; unsure if you wanted to try to explain to the doctor what you’re experiencing.
But would he believe you? At first it started out after a fall. You’d felt the ground rising up to meet you, so you reached out with your hands trying to catch yourself. In the process, you felt something crack and knew that you’d broken something in your hand. After a trip to the emergency room, you’d been sent home with a brace for your hand. A couple of the small bones in your hand were broken. Thankfully, you’d thought, it had been a clean break and so no surgery was necessary.
The days and weeks had stretched by as you waited for the bones to heal and for the pain to diminish. Yet, something had gone terribly wrong.
Instead of the pain decreasing as the bones healed, it had only increased. Perhaps you’d been wearing the brace too tightly. Perhaps there had been a hidden break somewhere that didn’t get addressed.
But it was there. Pain. Unrelenting pain and a burning sensation that nothing could abate. You’d tried using cold packs. You even resorted to running cold water over your hand until you’d thought the burning would subside. But it hadn’t. And what else bothered you? At this point, there was no visible sign that the pain existed.
So there you were, waiting for the doctor to enter your room. You needed some answers and hoped that he would have some. At the very least you wanted the doctor to believe the pain you were experiencing was real.
By the end of your doctor’s appointment you felt as if you’d been shrunk to only two inches tall. He’d examined your hand turning it this way and that, as you tried to keep back the screams that were locked up inside like as if they were an extension of your hand. What then did the doctor say? He said to give it a little more time. Come back to see him in two or three months for certainly by then the pain would be gone.
But it didn’t leave.
And after another doctor’s appointment, you walked out the door with a referral to have an evaluation by a psychiatrist. But that appointment didn’t show anything, so you received a referral to a specialist in pain management.
By now it had been eight months since your fall. The door opened and in walked another specialist. He asked a series of questions about you, your hand and what treatments you’d received to this point. Another strange thing is that your hand had changed color and looked like someone had beaten you up.
Then, after all of the painful months, a diagnosis was given – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or what can also be called Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. This is a diagnosis no one wants to receive. For, unless it is caught and treated in less than six months, there is no cure.
My story is similar to this one except mine started with a neck surgery and pain radiated down my arm and hand. Within months it had encompassed all four of my extremities.
After this, I did some research to find out more about the disease. One thing that I learned from the article, "Overview/Description," on rsdhope.org that Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is listed as being the most painful form of chronic pain that exists. I also found, an additional article from rsds.org, “Treatments,” which detailed the current treatments for the condition.
Try to remember, when things go terribly wrong and your body is racked with pain, that you can depend on God to be there with you, holding you and promising to walk you through this pain. And when it seems like life is overwhelming there are others who fight this fight. It may not lift your pain, but it will lift your spirits to know God is with you and there are others around you who will hold you up, too.
Psalm 41:7-8 - All my enemies whisper together against me; they imagine the worst for me, saying, "A vile disease has beset him; he will never get up from the place where he lies."
When battling a chronic disease sometimes others believe you’ll never get better. But though the war on sickness is knocking at your door, hang onto the hope.
When you’re having a good day, others may still say that you might be a little better, but you’ll never get completely well. This is hard to hear and can cause the hurting to doubt themselves and that they can have a full life regardless of the chronic disease.
I have many good examples of people I know who are fighting the same war I am, and have somehow found a way of becoming a positive example to those around them. They don’t let anyone hold them back.
Another option is when the one hurting on the inside wears a smile non-stop. However, many times that smile is only for the sake of others and is really just a fake smile. Sometimes the one suffering may truly be having a rough day, but they don’t allow their face to show it. Regardless of both of these, if you look in the sufferer’s eyes you can see their true heart.
And there is a third option: dig up from deep within that struggling heart and bring up a real smile along with it. Sure, you may not feel like smiling; however, when your heart is honest with people you know and they give you the encouragement you need to be real, go ahead and smile. It will do wonders for you and for them.
The forth option shows not a smile, fake or otherwise, because there’s no energy left to smile.
This calls for patient endurance.
You must make it your goal to look for the positive around you.
One way to do this is if you’re well enough to do so, go outside and take a walk. This will give your lungs a chance to be refreshed as well as the rest of your body.
Find five other tips from lifehack.org on staying positive in negative situations, in their article, “5 tips to Stay Positive in Negative Situations.”
When it feels like people are whispering around you and not giving you the encouragement you need to live your life in spite of being sick, don’t give up.
Be honest that what they say hurts you, yet you can show them by example that you’ve learned how to find the good in your situation. Maybe even if it’s only to show you who your true friends are like the psalmist in the Bible verses above discovered. But he didn’t give up. He turned to God and found people who did encourage him to believe his life was full of good things, even if he was living with a negative situation.
Job 30:16-17 - And now my life ebbs away; days of suffering grip me. Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest.
Someone’s knocking at my door. Now they’re pounding at my door in a rhythmic drum beat with each pound sounding louder than the one before. I collapse to my knees.
The headache is back.
When thinking of the different types of chronic pain, headaches have to be at the top of the list.
A headache doesn’t just cause pain. It disrupts our thought processes and when it’s a more severe type of headache, you can’t think of anything else but how to get rid of the pain.
There are at least 150 different types of headaches. Find fourteen of the most common headaches and their causes from CBS.com in their article, “14 Kinds of Headaches and how to Treat Them,” such as rebound headaches and weekend headaches.
Sometimes no matter what we do our headaches don’t go away. It’s like the Bible verse above which paints the psalmist life as ebbing away because of his suffering and the pain that never rests.
Know that you don’t have to go through this alone. God is ready to comfort you and help you walk through your painful journey.
Jeremiah 15:18, 19 - Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails?
What happens when pain decides to come for a visit to your house?
They arrive at your door, you begin to open it, but then you look down at a stack of suitcases and wonder what’s going on. You see, pain’s not just coming for a three-day holiday weekend or even for a couple of weeks during vacation.
What if pain decides to take up residency and live with you?
This is the difference between acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain lasts a short time, while chronic pain hangs around for a while and sometimes it never leaves you. “But why doesn’t it leave?” I frequently ask myself. “Have I done something wrong? Could I have done something different to make it go away?”
These are the kinds of questions that Jeremiah, in the Bible verses above, was asking. “Why is my pain unending?”
Jeremiah was a prophet during Old Testament biblical times. Israel had turned its back on God. So God dialed up Jeremiah’s number and asked him to be God’s man to speak to his wayward children. God was going to send his people into captivity if they didn’t change their ways.
But still. It was not such a great job to have, right? And talk about stress on the job, boy did he have a bucketful. Maybe it was the stress that was making Jeremiah so sick. But whatever the reason, Jeremiah accepted the job and kept his eyes on God. This gave Jeremiah the strength he needed to complete the task in the midst of his suffering.
God is waiting for you and me to keep our focus on him through our chronic pain and illness. It isn’t an easy job to accept. But I know that when I keep my eyes on God and our ultimate hope, he supplies me with strength like he did for Jeremiah.
To leave a comment just click on the blue "comments" below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.