Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Suffering by Comparison

"Blessed is a man who endures trials, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that He  has promised to those who love Him."
~James 1:12, HCSB

The comment thread on Saturday evening's post reminded me that we all experience trials, and we all can look to someone else and think, "My suffering is nothing compared to ____." I don't have to look farther than my own family and friends to be one-upped. The chain of comparison continues to escalate until we reach the suffering of the Lord Jesus.

His suffering on the cross on our behalf far exceeds anyone else's because in addition to the intense physical suffering, He bore the spiritual weight of the sins of mankind. Compared to that, anything else is just a paper cut. My response to suffering humbles me.

Therefore, it is not to make much of my health trials that I share them with you, but because I need the support of body of Christ to find His strength in my frailty.

As regular readers know, yesterday an orthopedist assessed my low back pain. The diagnosis was sciatica (nerve pain in the approximate area where the torso meets the leg) with probable lumbar disk involvement. The potential complications of the disk involvement more or less freaked me out, with panic driving out trust, hope, and peace, and I wasn't good for much the rest of the day. Not a becoming or faithful response for a believer, but there it is. Today is somewhat better so far. Charles Spurgeon's "morning" words for today were perfectly timed encouragement.

It was no accident, either, that another blogger linked yesterday to these words by evangelical Anglican bishop J.C. Ryle on lessons from the sickbed:
Beware of fretting, murmuring, complaining, and giving way to an impatient spirit. Regard your sickness as a blessing in disguise—a good and not an evil—a friend and not an enemy. No doubt we should all prefer to learn spiritual lessons in the school of ease and not under the rod. But rest assured that God knows better than we do how to teach us. The light of the last day will show you that there was a meaning and a “need be” in all your bodily ailments. The lessons that we learn on a sick-bed, when we are shut out from the world, are often lessons which we should never learn elsewhere.
The doctor has prescribed some stretching exercises and a month of physical therapy (which begins August 1). His assistant warned me to expect pain to increase rather than decrease as the maladjusted muscles are retrained.  (I have obtained an additional pain medicine to help bear this.) The doctor also exhorted me on the necessity of proper body mechanics to help my body heal.

Please pray

  • with thanks for God's sovereignty over all of this.
  • with thanks that my chest pain has been less than usual yesterday and today,
  • for our strength of body, soul, and spirit to follow through on the prescription,
  • for my peace and confidence in the goodness and love of God (sacrifice of praise again),
  • for effectiveness of treatment with no further complications, if God wills,
  • for the doctor and therapist assigned to me, and
  • for provision and creativity regarding the behavioral adjustments I need to make and any outside transportation assistance needs for the therapy appointments.
Thank you for your kind prayers, comments, and e-mails. I have read and do appreciate all of them and the affection behind them. For right now, my computer time is limited and sporadic as we problem-solve an ergonomic workstation setup compatible with both chest and back pain needs, so I may not be able to respond to your responses as usual. Thank you for understanding and grace.

"...so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:7-10, HCSB).


  1. Oh, my friend, lifting prayers for you. Know that you are being prayed for. Your post humbles me. "a paper cut" compared to Jesus' suffering,... yet I cry when I bleed from the wounds that hurt, physical and otherwise.
    You bless me.

  2. Christina, I have read your blog and am understanding more of your situation. I am so sorry you are dealing with all this and I hope you do not feel like you cannot "tell it like it is", especially to God. Some of my questions in the email I sent earlier today have been answered. Continuing to pray for you! Susan

  3. Oh, friend, I am praying. Pain is such a difficult thorn to live with. Bless you for lifting Him up in the midst of your struggle. You are such an inspiration. Giving Him the glory...

  4. I read this early today have been praying for you. I'd like to have wise words of comfort or insight, but please know I'm on my knees for you--trusting God and His Word to continue meeting you, comforting you. Hugs. Thank you for faithfully walking the path He's giving.

  5. such a layering of trials you're going through! i hope i'm not grasping at straws to see it as a mercy that (a) there is something that can be done to relieve the back (and hip?) pain, and (b) that something doesn't involve surgery.

    thank you so much for the prayer points: knowing more about your particular needs will be (as Allen suggested) a real help as I keep you wrapped up in prayer.

    you've given us so many treasurable posts, and so many kind and thoughtful responses to comments, that, even before seeing this post, i had been worrying that you were pushing yourself too hard. so don't worry AT ALL about your computer time being limited and sporadic for however long it needs to be, and don't for a moment feel bad about not responding to comments--including this one.

    I thank God that you are generously sharing your trials, and that--however you may feel about the moments of "being more or less freaked out" that we all have--you are a powerful witness to God's love!

    a big hug,


  6. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement!!! I am truly grateful.

    @chris and anyone else who was wondering- Technically, the problem is in the lumbar spine area with referred pain in the sciatic nerve. As a layperson, I would describe the locus of pain as my hip. Hence my mixed references to hip and lower back. Sorry for the confusion.

    Surgery is not in the discussion at this point but could be if the physical therapy were to prove unsuccessful in resolving the problem.

  7. I have finally returned to the land of "internet connections," and yours is the first place I came, wanting to know about your doctor visit. You have been on my heart.

    I want you to know how very beautiful He is in you. Your transparency is the very vehicle that makes Him so Glorious in you. I am sure, because of your precious humility, that you feel like you "could do better bearing this hard thing," but it is in that weakness that He is showing Himself so very MIGHTY! You are such a blessing, to all of us who are privileged to visit you here in this place. And as we pray for complete, instant healing (because that is what we want), please know that we are also holding you up in prayer so that His Sufficiency will be your very breath. Your foundation in His Sovereignty allows you to praise Him though He slay you. That is miraculous! And you are loved. So very loved and adored. I wish I could hug your neck and help with whatever chores need to be done, or simply take dictation so you could write everything you want to write. I'm rambling. I just want the waves of His Love to wash over you, from us. :)

  8. @AnneThank you, dear Anne, for the kind words, the prayers, and the love. His love through you. Your affection and perspective move me deeply.

    I'm so glad Brandee introduced us! Brandee, if you're listening, thank you.

    I love you back, friend.

  9. Have you heard the song "Three Times I asked Him?" I cry when I think of how I have asked so much more than three times to be relieved of suffering. Embracing the allowed suffering is a definite act of faith. You encourage me.

  10. Keep your faith up and trust in a successful operation. When sciatia happened due to lumbar disk herniation, there's 9-of-10 chances it will be resolved with no intervention.

    summit orthopedics

  11. Recover from the pain with the right remedies. Having the right treatment will let you relieve from the pain.

    heel spur symptoms


Thank you for sharing your day with me! Your presence here is a gift. *You* are a gift. Right now I am unable to reply to every comment, but please know I read and pray for each and every commenter. Grace and peace to you in Christ.