Chronic pain, Encouragement

Dancing between faith and reality

A few nights ago, I awoke in the middle of the night. I had a headache, so I got up to eat and take medicine. After being awake several hours, I noticed my pain from postherpetic neuralgia (pain from shingles) was elevated, but I attempted to go back to sleep. My sleep was fitful at best. I fluctuated between having chills and hot flashes, and my nerve pain became severe. By 5:30 am, I realized that I must have forgotten to take my nerve medicine the day before. Once I took the medicine, my symptoms dissipated within a few hours.

January marks the fifth year I’ve been living with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). By now, I’ve grown accustomed to managing my pain through medication. I take a pill at noon, apply two large lidocaine patches to my skin at 1 p.m., take another pill at 6 p.m. and another one at 9 p.m. Then I go to sleep and repeat in the morning.

It’s become such a regular part of my day that I convince myself it’s normal. Until I forget to take my medicine. I have an app on my phone that sends me reminders to take my medicine, but it’s not a perfect system. At least a few times a month, I forget whether or not I took my medicine. This inevitably sends me into a panic for a few hours. Because if I miss a dose of my daily medication, my body will revolt like it did the other night.

I’m so thankful for the medication regimen I am currently using, because it has given me the ability to function. I had prayed for a year and a half for healing after getting shingles. But after finding the right medication regimen, I stopped asking God for complete healing. I can see God’s faithfulness through my pain. I am so grateful for the healing that He has already provided through the medication that I hate to ask Him for more healing. I’m also afraid that if I do, He might say no.

But recently, I feel God encouraging me to start asking Him for a miracle again. Our pastor at church asked us what we wanted to be free from in 2018. I initially wrote down some character issues, but I felt God whispering to my soul, “Ask me for healing too.” Tears came to my eyes. I wondered, what if I ask God for a miracle, and I find myself still managing PHN in 2019?

The truth is, I’ve asked for healing for many people in my life.  Recently, He has provided heavenly healing instead of earthly healing. My heart has wrestled with His answer to my prayers. I realize I’m now reluctant to ask for healing, because I’m afraid I’ll face more disappointment.

God is showing me that by not asking, I am limiting Him. My actions are saying I know what He wants to do in and through my life. But I read in Isaiah 55: 8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I will never know exactly what God is doing this side of heaven.

I think that when we ask God for healing, we are involving Him in our life. It allows us to dialogue with Him about an area of our life that is very important to us. By depending on Him for healing, we are deepening our relationship with Him every time we ask. It can be compared to that of a close friendship. Our friendships grow deeper when we invite each other into the darkest place of our hearts. It’s here where we learn to lean on one another and be vulnerable with each other.

God longs for us to be authentic and vulnerable with Him. But if we are not asking Him for a miracle, then we are potentially stifling our relationship with Him. We are saying that we’d rather not have Him involved in that part of our life, because we are afraid He won’t respond the way we want.

In the book of Mark, chapter 9, Jesus encounters a man who brings him his son that has been demon possessed since childhood. When Jesus asks him how long the boy has been possessed, the man replies,“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:21-24)

I often feel like that father. I do believe Jesus can heal me, but I often don’t believe that He will. It seems God is asking me to step out of my unbelief. That as I ask Him for miraculous healing, I need to also ask that He will overcome my doubts and replace them with truth from God’s word.

It seems that waiting for healing is a dance between asking God to provide a miracle and being content with His answer (even if it’s no). I think I can ask God for complete healing AND be content with where He has me right now. If I keep my eyes fixed on Him, then I can continue to dance between faith and reality and actually enjoy the uncertainty of the dance, knowing He is in control.

What are you waiting on God for today? Are you waiting for physical healing, relationship mending, emotional healing, miraculous financial provision, a spouse, or a family of your own? Have you stopped asking God for a miracle in that area of your life? Whatever you are waiting on God for, believe that He can work a miracle and start asking Him for one. Invite Him into the darkest place of your heart and let Him meet you there. I believe your relationship with Him will grow deeper and your heart will find rest.

 

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