For about a month now I’ve had severe pain in my lower back. What was the cause? A herniated disc.
When I moved in certain positions, there was pain down my glutes into my thigh, calf and ankle. In my case, the worse position I could be in was sitting. So, for the last few weeks I’ve stood as much as possible.
Eventually, I was no longer able to endure the pain, and I had to have surgery.
This period of pain has been a great blessing to me. In fact, God used this time to speak to me in some of the most practical and spiritual ways I have ever experienced. So, I wanted to share them with you.
Here are three important lessons that I learned from my back pain:
1. We all need more encouragement.
Over the past few weeks, people have been sending me a constant stream of encouraging messages. The support reminded me of how powerful a phone call, text, or visit can be. Encouragement in the midst of pain is like a cool drink of water in the midst of a desert.
It’s not so much what someone says but the realization that they acknowledge and even accept your pain. It gives you a sense that you’re not alone.
I was also encouraged by how my family responded to my pain. My struggle reminded me that I have an amazing wife and daughter. For instance, my back pain forced us to cancel our trip to Disney World for my daughter’s birthday. When she found out that we couldn’t go, this is what she said: “I just want your back to get better.” Their selflessness spoke volumes.
We need to encourage people more often. Let’s be looking for opportunities to build one another up through our actions and words.
2. We’re not meant to be totally independent.
Because of my back issue, I’m not able to drive far without great pain. I can’t sit for any extended amount of time either. Surprisingly, it’s caused a good change of pace for me in many ways.
It’s caused me to be more dependent upon other people. So often we think that we have to go through life alone, making our own way. But nothing could be further from the truth. Acknowledging our dependence upon other people requires us to give up control and humble ourselves. I think we all could benefit from doing those two things more often.
3. We’re not the only ones.
The herniated disc also reminded me of how little suffering I usually have to endure. In comparison to many other people, my troubles are light. At least I have been able to find relief.
I’m mindful that many of our members at Trinity Baptist Church live with chronic pain and even fatal injuries and diseases. I have a new level of empathy for them. I also have a new love and passion for the privilege of praying for them. I know the joy of intercessory prayer in a whole new way.
Pain also gives us a glimpse of the sufferings that Christ endured on our behalf. It reminds us that we have a God who understands our struggles and is near in our hurt.
4. We’re not as disciplined as we think.
In his book on pain and suffering, C.S. Lewis wrote that “everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.”
Through my back pain, I learned that we’re not as disciplined as we might think. It’s easy to be agreeable when life is going well, but when we’re in the midst of pain it’s harder to be self-controlled.
My pain taught me to discipline and control my mind in many new ways. There were many times when the pain, medicine or lack of sleep had negative effects on me. I realized I needed to control of my thoughts more. I needed to allow the Spirit to guide my thoughts as I chose to submit to Him.
Through all this God has not left me for a second. He has been a patient and kind companion on what was a short period of pain. For all you who hurt today, know I truly and deeply love you. I pray He will bless you and your family with the same incredible grace He provided to me.