I find that as humans, we all are afflicted with something that will bring pain in some way where we will suffer be it physical, spiritual, or mental, acute, chronic, temporary, permanent, incurable, or curable.
Pain comes in many forms and can be experienced in the loss of a loved one. The effects of grief may cause failure in our ability to overcome. It can come from an injury, an illness, or a health condition where symptoms may never cease. Or from a heart that has been broken into pieces. There’s no getting around it. We are not exempt. However, some of us will give up while going through and hold contempt. Or some of us will persevere and relent, when experiencing a painful event. It’s all in who we know and whose we are. It will depend on our relationship with God.
Much like Jesus, who suffered both physically and spiritually, yet persevered. He still served. His suffering was nothing in comparison to the price he paid when he carried our sins and died to pay the penalty for them. Yet he served. He didn’t let that stop him from fulfilling God’s plan.
One of my greatest passions is being a voice and advocating for people in pain. Yet one of the hardest challenges I face is being able to lend my efforts as I would like to. Oftentimes, giving up and losing the perseverance to stand. As such what I’ve found as a silent advocate is my message sometimes fall on deaf ears.
I know you’re saying, “It sounds like an oxymoron to be a ‘silent advocate.’” And when I look at it, it does. But what it means is, in my heart I advocate while at the same time my family helps with efforts to lend my voice that sometimes is bare minimum in comparison to what I see in most people who advocate for a cause. This is primarily because of my limitations but I still fight when I can as I can.
Did you know there are 116 million American adults that suffer from chronic pain (June 2011 IOM report), of which I am one of them.
Throughout this particular season in my life, I have encountered some of the strongest people whose plight is acutely worse than mine but I’ve witnessed their drive and tenacity to reach their God-given destiny. They’ve beaten the odds and lived to tell their story. As well as found success in spite of their situation. Sadly, I was not one of those people.
After a 9 ½ year long battle with unresolved pain issues taking its toll on me, I had come to the conclusion that my life was over. At the time, I was ready to begin a new journey after finishing grad school but found my life changed in a matter of a split second. I thought it was shattered because I had hopes and dreams and found myself giving up all because of one dramatic change. The devil is a LIAR! My God reigns!
It was in this instant I woke up to my reality as I said to God, “I know this life is not what you have in mind for me. I know this is not the life you promised would be.” I cried out to him, “Lord I know this season I’m in is only temporary. You know the burdens I carry. I know I am not here to live a substandard life. I know in my heart you have a better plan for my life. I ask that you show me what it is I can do, to make a difference and glorify you.”
I told him, “I know there are people in this world in much worse shape than I, who have stood the test of time. And if they can do it so can I. Use me Lord to do thy will. Not based on my circumstances but because of my circumstances let your will be done.”
As I turned over and mediated on my petition to God, I fell asleep and hours later, woke up with a strange urge to do something beyond my understanding not knowing how it would be accomplished. All I know is God revealed it to me and told me the pity party was over. He said, “The time has come as you asked to be used. Rejoice. This is Good News.”
“Paul tells us that in the future we will become, but until then we must overcome. This means we will experience difficulties that help us grow. We rejoice in suffering not because we like pain or deny its tragedy, but because we know God is using life’s difficulties and Satan’s attacks build our character.”
Romans 5:3-5 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
That same day I gathered all the strength I could and discussed with my sister the story I later shared with American Pain Foundation (APF) three years ago in submission of my story after completing an advocacy survey. I told my sister that after we submitted my “Share Your Story” God had given me a revelation. I wanted to help people in pain even though I wasn’t sure how it would be accomplished. My sister assured me it could happen with God and family as my source of support.
With the help of my family we took the first step as they helped put together my story “Joy” and submitted it to APF Action Network. A few weeks later I received news that my story had been accepted and would be featured on their Action Network site under Voices of People with Pain. This in turn set the foundation of my advocacy efforts. The story can also be read at http://action.painfoundation.org/site/PageNavigator/Voices_of_Pain
I was overjoyed and excited in spite of strife. God changed my life. He set the foundation for greater things to come even when I had given up and thought I was done. This is where it all started although the organization ceased last year, this is where I still am in my commitment to serve Him, as I advocate for the rights of people in pain. I am still fighting for the proclamation.
And it didn’t stop there. God showed me what great courage and perseverance will do even in times of despair. Approximately two years later I learned APF was holding a campaign called “If I Lived in a World with Less Pain, I Could…” during September Pain Awareness Month. In an effort to secure a first-ever presidential proclamation proclaiming September National Pain Awareness Month, applicants were given the choice to submit a short story or video of what their life would be like if they lived in a world with less pain.
I thought, “This would be the greatest opportunity to share with others my testimony. Not literally, but what I believe we as pain sufferers experience and are afraid to speak. So, I immediately went to God. I told him “I really want to do this. I really would like to be a voice, in way that would truly make a difference. Please God, I know you’re listening. I ask for discernment and wisdom be it your will that you may guide me to make the right decision that I may fulfill…your purpose.”
I called my sister again and told her what I desired to do but I was waiting on God for confirmation that would lead me in whatever he willed I do. God sent the answer by the time she arrived home and with the help of my family, September 2011 they created this video.
I was elated. I only wanted to be a voice. God helped me overcome barriers. In his still voice, he said to me, “This will be your voice.”
The video represented my message to PRESIDENT OBAMA of what MY WORLD WITH LESS PAIN would be like. I felt it was an opportunity to bring national awareness to the “hidden” epidemic of pain (APF) so that those who suffer with pain will have a right to effective care and treatment; because “pain” is not just an individual or local problem.
It is a national healthcare crisis. It does not only affect pain sufferers but it affects families, friends, associates and anyone who is connected to its world. Even though it may not directly affect every individual; the physical, financial and emotional affects can be devastating to the pain sufferer and the families of those who will ultimately suffer. I believed with the help of a nation, we all could make a difference.
Within a matter of weeks, again to my surprise, APF chose my video the second week of the campaign and featured it on their Facebook page. I thought, “This is all God.” He is using me in spite of me to help others who suffer so their voices can be heard.
I thanked him over and over again. I know he sent this new journey in spite of my pain. I truly believe this will be the cornerstone of the new road I will travel in this “new” journey of my life. As I become a voice of reason and a voice of hope for many who suffer from pain of any type.
I say all these things to say this: Although it has been a long and hard journey towards the road to recovery, I wanted to shout to the world what God did for me. He set my soul free. I professed all my troubles to God. I spent time in prayer when things seemed hard. I surrendered my will to him. I prayed and asked Him. Much like the same as Jesus said to him, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
I will follow your example Jesus. I will persevere. I will sustain. I will pray to the Father through my trials and pain. He did it for me. He can do it for you too. Here’s my suggestion for you. Tell me what would you do?
What you say? Do you believe Jesus will make a way? Do you believe He will take all your pain away? Do you believe he will set you free? Free from a life of pain, worry, and misery. What do you believe?
Do you believe God orchestrates things with your best interest at heart? I do. His Word I will never depart. For it is this I believe. I will receive all that God has promised me. I will not get weary in well-doing. I will run and not walk. God will give me the desires of my heart.
This is my platform. God gave it to me. I will use it to encourage others to stay strong in spite of me. In spite of the diagnosis, condition, or symptoms that come. We can be the one that God will use to inspire and help someone.
Look for God in the midst of your pain. God doesn’t change. He is the same. Yesterday, today, and forever more; he reigns. We all can make a difference in the lives of others if only we believe! We can change the world if only we continue in our efforts to make a difference. And we can live life to its fullest in support of others when fighting to bring awareness that they may persevere to the next level. Be blessed! –JD
1 Peter 2:21 “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:”