Ever since I was a kid, I have struggled with severe migraines, sometimes accompanied by stomach aches. I can remember taking over-the-counter medication several times a month while I was in middle school to relieve myself of the symptoms. In high school, it turned into several taking them several times a week. Now, in my twenties, my migraines sometimes last non-stop for weeks on end - oftentimes becoming debilitating. And no OTC medicines work. Sometimes, my pain becomes unbearable. That's when I lie in my bed, cry an pray, and wonder why I am dealing with so much pain on such a regular basis. I have tried many different treatments, diets, and supplements, but I have yet to find something that relieves me of these debilitating headaches.
I am not writing this to gain sympathy. Far from it actually. Rather, I want to encourage those who are struggling with the same things that I am. I truly understand living in pain, and have for most of my life.
But through it, I have learned about God. I have learned that He never leaves me. I have learned that He gets me through some very hard things, and I've learned that He has a reason for everything, even if we may not like it.
Here are some truths I have been clinging to and learning through all the pain I have been experiencing recently:
1. God did not cause pain
We can't blame God for something that He never chose or wanted in His creation. When sin entered into the world through one man, pain, death, sickness, and every other evil thing came along with it. God had never created those kinds of things into the design of the universe. We created them, not God. Thus, pain is not God's fault, but ultimately ours.
We also have to remember that there is an evil entity out there that enjoys spreading pain, lies, hurt, and untruths about God. Paul says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." - Ephesians 6:12. Paul is clear in this verse that when we struggle in this life, we are struggling against rulers of evil (also known as Satan and his demons.)
Ultimately, there are three things that cause pain: sin, evil forces, and our own flesh. But never God.
2. God can see the whole picture
It's easy to blame God for every terrible thing that ever happens to us. After all, He's All-Powerful isn't He? Well, yes. But that doesn't mean He has to do anything for us at all. He's God.
However, God is loving and merciful. It says in Scripture that He enjoys giving gifts to His children. He enjoys freeing us from pain, giving us life, enjoyment, and happiness. But that doesn't mean He always will. Sometimes, He allows us to not get what we want because He knows that it wouldn't be good for us because He can see the whole picture. He knows all about you and your personality. He knows if something will be better for you, even if it is causing you pain in the moment.
In Lysa Terkhurst's book, "It's Not Supposed to be This Way," Lysa talks about a terrible, excruciating experience she went through in the ER. For six days, her stomach was separating from her other organs. She was in so much pain that even morphine wasn't working. For six days she lied there, praying for relief from the horrid pain. It took the doctors far too long to figure out the problem. Finally, they did, and they put her in immediate surgery, fixing the issue.
She recalled later in the book that if God had given her what she wanted - relieving her of her pain - she would have been released from the hospital. She would have gone home, and gone septic, and died. She needed that pain in order for the doctors to figure out what was wrong. In fact, God was being loving by allowing Lysa that amount of pain because He was preserving her life.
Though I don't know why God allows me to have such excruciating migraines, I choose to believe that He can see the whole picture. I choose to believe that He has a better plan for me than I can possibly know.
3. God wants me to draw close to Him
Unfortunately, I have noticed that the only times I ever pray to God is when I am going through some sort of trouble or pain. I recognize this, and so does God. God is so interested in a relationship with me, that I truly believe that He doesn't want me fall away from Him for any reason whatsoever. I know that if my life were nothing but good things all the time, I might never have a relationship with God. Therefore, I am (weirdly) thankful for these headaches because they keep me in line and close with God - the most important Person I could ever be aligned with.
4. God doesn't cause pain, but He allows it
I don't believe that God causes pain, but I do believe that He allows it for teaching. For example, I have recently learned what I talked about in point 3: that I don't really have a close relationship with God unless I need something from Him. I know that God is using my headaches to teach me to draw close to Him no matter what. I know He is using them to refine me in some way.
"Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all." - Hebrews 12:6-8
5. God always gets me through when I need it the most
Somehow, in spite of my migraines, I rarely miss appointments that really need to get done. God always gets me through it in one way or another. When I worked full-time at the factory, I often got my headaches at night, rather during the day. When I prayed the night before, my headaches would often go away before my morning shift.
There have been many instances of this throughout my life. I do miss appointments on occasion due to migraines, but far less often than you would think considering the intensity of my headaches. I know that this is God helping me. I know He is with me and helping me get through my day like He always does.
In conclusion, if you feel stressed because of continual and chronic pain, remember the things that I outlined here. That God can and will heal, but He does everything in His perfect timing. He is loving and caring. He wants you to draw close to Him. He will get you through the toughest times.
He will never leave you or forsake you. - Hebrews 13:5