Joni and Friends Blog
No One Should Suffer Alone
September is Pain Awareness Month, and when I remember this Facebook message I recently received, I can’t think of a better time to be more “aware” of how debilitating pain can be.
“Joni… I am in pain constantly and cannot even sit in a wheelchair. All I can do is lie on my bed 24 hours a day… I don’t smile anymore. I don’t live anymore… I can’t even sit still and concentrate long enough to read anymore. I don’t know what to do. I feel as though no one is praying for me except maybe my mother and a few other family members. I’m lost. I’m depressed.”
Those words ripped my heart apart. They could’ve easily been mine years ago when chronic pain began to encroach on my life.
Those words ripped my heart apart. They could’ve easily been mine years ago when chronic pain began to encroach on my life. In the beginning, I had such difficulty concentrating in prayer or Bible reading. And I felt so isolated. I kept wondering, “does anyone else hurt this bad?!” I asked God to help me craft a heartfelt response, and here’s how I replied to my Facebook friend:
“When I read your message, my heart groaned; in fact, I asked the Holy Spirit to groan with me on your behalf. No one should suffer alone, and it seems that’s been your plight. It’s why I’m so glad you reached out to me…because you are not alone. When my pain is ‘over the top,’ I find myself grasping and holding fast to the Word of God to keep my head above the waters of affliction. Scriptural anchors like Psalm 119:92, ‘If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.’ And Psalm 119:107 echoes that, ‘I have suffered much; preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word.’ And Psalm 119:153, ‘Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.’ These passages tell me that God understands. He resonates. He is ‘with us’ in our affliction.”
…I felt so isolated. I kept wondering, “does anyone else hurt this bad?!”
As I went on to remind this dear person who suffers great pain, God does not give us his Word only; he gives us his touch. There are other flesh-and-blood people who understand the day-in and day-out toll that pain takes.
It’s why I sought out a few friends to be my “Pain Pals.” I want people to pray for me with great empathy and authority; I want someone who can intercede with understanding. I know these precious people “get it” when it comes to the anguish of pain.
One of my Pals named Rika helped me with this quote from Octavius Winslow – “O beloved! what an assuring and comforting truth is this—GOD WITH US! Now we feel equal to every service, prepared for every trial, armed for every assault. Deity is our shield, Deity is our arm, Deity is our Father and our Friend….Emmanuel is GOD WITH US…Come, then, and lean upon His omnipotent arm.” Rika has been bedridden for many years due to excruciating pain, and so when she prays for me; when she sends me encouragement like this quote by Winslow, it always carries great weight and power. I am not alone in my pain. I am not isolated. And neither is that Facebook friend who suffers pain.
Friend, there are others out there who feel such great loneliness in their chronic pain. Please reach out to them. Please pull them up out of isolation through your prayers, words of encouragement, Scriptures, and maybe a visit. Or create your own group of “Pain Pals” as a supportive fellowship that intercedes for each other. Be the friend through whom God touches their heart.
We highly recommend the resources in this blog post and hope that they will be a source of encouragement as they take a close look at our suffering and how it fits into God’s sovereign plans.