Managing Chronic Pain and Keeping Your Faith
When you are young, you go to the doctor for vomiting, fevers, and similar, objectively observable ailments, but as you get older pain becomes a serious, sometimes unwavering issue. Every trip to the doctor now includes being asked to rate your level of pain.
For most kids, the doctor treats colds, and viruses, and strep throat, but adults are much more likely to run into conditions with pain as the primary presenting symptom. At least ten percent of the adult population deals with chronic pain of some form.
The biggest problem comes when there is a condition where pain is a major symptom, but there aren’t any visible signs of a disorder. People get told the condition is “all in their head” or that the sufferer is just being a hypochondriac. This type of thinking makes pain sufferers either focus too much on the pain, in an attempt to make themselves “think the pain away”, or hide their conditions from others, creating deeper emotional stress and non-treatment.
Chronic pain isn’t a mental condition, but just like with all physiological problems, mood, stress, and focus levels can impact how seriously the disorder is affecting a patient. Most chronic pain conditions require rest and low stress. Restorative sleep is a must, even with pharmaceutical treatment.
Chronic pain can also impact faith. Extended chronic pain conditions cause sufferers to grieve what is lost from their lives because of lack of strength and health. They may reach out to religious institutions in hope that it can offer a magic cure or become disenfranchised with their own beliefs.
Instead of focusing on what is lost, accept what you still have and can enjoy. Spirituality offers hope and support systems which are hugely important to managing a chronic pain condition. As Phil Monroe says in the Biblical Seminary blog, “Faith is not that things will go my way right now but that God is in control, cares/protects me, and is working for my ultimate redemption–even when the opposite seems to be true.”