Fall 2019

A Good and Faithful God: Reflections on 6 Years in Pain

On October 28, 2013, I woke up with a headache. As of today, I’ve had that headache for 6 years. That’s 6 years of constant pain, 6 years of specialist appointments and searching for answers, 6 years of trying treatments and being let down, 6 years of faithful friends and family praying with me for healing.

Honestly, this year, I don’t know what to think. I have so long been resigned to the reality of long-term physical discomfort that it seems normal to me. I have so long been skeptical of anyone offering a solution that I have little hope of a medical remedy to this problem.

When I was diagnosed with a New Daily Persistent Headache, the neurologist and others told me they have no idea what causes this condition. Various medications and treatments have worked for different people, but nothing has surfaced that consistently helps people who have this.

Perhaps God will decide to take this away one day. He already knows how long I will live with it. Maybe He will bring relief in the form of a pill or an oil or a therapy, or maybe He will just take the pain from me. Maybe I will feel this way until I die, and then I will be healed physically as I am healed spiritually in His presence.

No matter what happens, God is getting the glory for this. He gets the glory for giving me strength and endurance to live with this pain for 2,191 days. (I found that number with a calculator; I have long since given up counting every day!) I know that His ways and His thoughts are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9), and He will use this situation to bring Him honor.

He gets the glory when the pain goes away, whether that happens in this life or the next. He is the One who sustains me every day. He has allowed this to happen for His reasons, and I do not need to know what they are (though many days I wish I did).

I don’t often think about my headache. I don’t wake up every morning conscious of it, because my brain has learned to ignore the signals my nerves are constantly sending. I think about it the most around this time of year, when I realize another year has gone by and I am still in pain.

As a general rule, I don’t see this as something that is inhibiting my function; it’s just part of life for me, and I have continued living as if it weren’t there. It has been inconvenient going to numerous doctors and other specialists, trying medications, trying natural remedies, trying so many ideas from friends with headaches and professionals who treat those who suffer from them.

However, sometimes the thought that I have been in chronic pain for most of my teen and young adult years is discouraging to me. I wonder how much it might be hindering me without me realizing it, and I become frustrated that after so much searching, no solution has appeared. Nothing even lessens this pain—why do I have to continue living with it? I don’t see much good coming out of it besides the ability to sympathize with others with chronic pain.

Paul’s account of his struggle with weakness encourages me:

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

Please join me in praising God for carrying me through this whole journey, through doctor appointments, scans, medication side effects, and disappointments. I am so thankful that He has been with me every step of the way and that He knows the end of this story. I am thankful, too, for those He has placed in my life who have not stopped praying for me throughout this whole process. His grace toward me has been not only sufficient but abundant.

If you are struggling with chronic pain or other health issues, please leave a comment or send me an email, and I would be happy to pray for you. I know how it feels to not see a light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s remind each other how good and faithful our God is and give Him the glory for every victory and every lesson learned on the journey.