How Do I Deal with the Pain of Physical Suffering?
This week, on the podcast, I want to talk to you about the toil and the agony of physical suffering. As you might know, this is scheduled to be my second week of recovery from my third brain surgery. I am recording these podcasts near the end of July in anticipation of that surgery. I don’t know exactly what kind of situation I’ll be in as you listen to these podcasts. But since I’ve done this a couple of times before, I know that I am in a season of my life that is not fun. That is very hard. I have this physical problem in my brain with blood vessels compressing my trigeminal nerve, and it causes spasms and discomfort and pain and all sorts of things. The only way to relieve that pressure, the only way to fix it, is to remove those blood vessels from the nerve. And that requires brain surgery. What that means is to solve one medical problem, the physicians actually have to create another medical problem. They have to create a hole in the back of your head. And the recovery from that procedure is actually worse than the problem that leads up to it. It’s only worse for a short period of time. The idea is to fix it. But in the short term, the suffering from the surgery is worse than the suffering from the original problem. And if my last two surgeries are any predictor of what I’m dealing with right now, then this week is better than last week but is not as good as the next week. I appreciate your prayers as I record this podcast scheduled to be recovering as you listen to this.
The Pain in Physical Suffering
It’s got me thinking about physical, bodily suffering. I need you to know that one of the things I’ve always been thankful for is my body. I’m not talking about the fact that I believed myself to be some paragon of manliness. No one has ever confused me with being God’s gift to women. Although and I don’t know if I should tell you this, I’ll probably get in trouble for this. But my wife said to me one time we were watching something, and Brad Pitt was on the television, and we were talking about how everybody thinks he’s attractive. And Lauren was like, oh my goodness, you’re so much better looking than Brad Pitt. And I was like, honey, you are blinded and crazed by love. But I am thankful to be married to the one woman in the world who thinks I am better looking than Brad Pitt. But I digress. When I say, I’m thankful for my body. I don’t mean that. I mean, I’ve always basically had good health. I’ve had some sickness in the past. I’ve had to have my tonsils out. There have been some there’s been some stumbles along the way. But I’ve always had really good health. In the last couple of years, it has been a tremendous struggle to have this problem that won’t go away. That has limited my ability which has created pain. There are times when you’re you tell your body to do something, and it won’t do it, or you tell your body to stop doing something, and it won’t do it. It is a real source of pain and frustration, and sorrow when your physical body lets you down. And I just want to be really honest; I’m very aware that my problem is mild compared to what some people have to deal with. People who are paralyzed, people who are immobile, people who’ve been severely damaged in car accidents, people who are born with significant handicaps, people who are going through cancer, treatment, and other forms of diseases. I know that my physical suffering has been mild on the continuum that other people have to experience, and yet my experience is my experience, and for all of us, whether it’s more mild or more extreme when your body lets you down, that is hard. That is frustrating when you want to go and do and be healthy and be strong, and your body says no, that is a weakness and suffering that is very significant.
Hope in Heaven
I want to think about that. And I want to think about it in terms of 2 Corinthians 5. The apostle Paul writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, calls these bodies we have a tent, and in this tent, “we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling.” That’s a fascinating passage there in 2 Corinthians 5. It calls our body a tent, and it says, we wear this tent, and there are things about this tent that make us groan. I’m not a big camper. If you’re a camper and you love it, God bless you. It’s not a big thing that I like to do. I remember one of the last times I went camping; the water came in because it rained really hard that night, and water came into the tent. There I was, just lying there soaking in the water. There wasn’t anything I could do. It was dark outside, and I couldn’t fix the situation. I got to a little bit of an area where the water wasn’t pooling, but I was still just wet all night, and I was miserable, and I groaned. That’s what you’re supposed to think of in 2 Corinthians 5. When you think of this body, if you’re dealing with cancer, or old age, or blood vessels on a nerve in your brain, or recovery from an operation, or whatever it is, when we are groaning when we’re going, oh, my back, or oh, my head or oh, I’m tired when we are groaning, the apostle Paul says that’s supposed to do something to you. It’s supposed to point you forward to heavenly hope. You are supposed to groan in this tent. This tent is temporary so that you don’t think that this is your permanent dwelling and where everything is supposed to end. And that everything here is supposed to be as good as it ever gets. No, when you groan in this tent, it is supposed to point you forward to the glorious permanent dwelling that God is going to give you when you trust in Him and when you go to be with him as one of his children.
When you’re groaning in a broken body, the system is working. Rather than despair, you’re supposed to replace the groan with heavenly hope. You’re supposed to lift your eyes to heaven, you’re supposed to lift your eyes to the grace of Jesus, and long for the permanent dwelling that he will give you that will never weaken, that will never expire. That will always be wonderful and glorious. That is one of the great gifts that God is going to give to you when you trust in Jesus when you come to him. I’m praying right now that this week as you’re listening to this, as I’m scheduled to be groaning, that when I groan, it will be a groan that sounds like, oh Lord, make me long for heaven. Make me long for Jesus. Make me long to put off this tent and put on the glorious, permanent dwelling. Everybody who trusts in Jesus is going to have a weak body. I hope for all those guys out there that are listening to this. I hope that one blessing you experience is that you’re married to a woman like I am. Who thinks you look better than Brad Pitt, but whether you have that or don’t if you’ve got Jesus, you’ve got glory coming. Your body isn’t going to be weak forever. It’s not even going to be weak for long. One day in Jesus, it will be strong, and we can look to heaven and trust in Christ and rejoice in that even when our bodies are hurting.