This morning, I would love to write about something more delightful, playful, and fun-filled. Yet, after suffering through a nerve-pain induced headache for the past day and a half, I feel more inclined to write about pain, fear, and stress. So many people I know, including myself, suffer daily from various illnesses, diseases, and pain. Some, more life-threatening than others; yet all very real. For me, after a headache last longer than a few hours or days, I start to concern myself if “this one” will send me back to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia for yet another spinal tap and images. If you have ever suffered through extended pain you are aware of how anxious and short-tempered you can become; if we are not careful. Even though some people might have good intentions, I so dislike the phrases, “I know exactly how you feel,” or, “It’ll be alright.” I want to reply, “No, you don’t know exactly how I feel,” or, “Unless you are God and have total control over the matter you don’t know if it’ll be alright or not!” Shortly after I suffered from a bilateral vertebral artery dissection (VAD) last August and was in intense pain from the bleeding on the brain along with severe vertigo and facial nerve damage, a person visiting me lightly stated, “Oh, I’ve had headaches with dizziness before. You’ll be fine.” Even though I believed their heart and intentions were to be a comfort to me I wanted to scream, “Excuse me; this is not a headache with dizziness. Do you have a ripped artery in your brain? Do you have platinum coiling in your head from a repaired aneurysm? Do you have permanent facial nerve pain? Did you have back surgery with fusion a few weeks ago before suffering from a cerebral dissection? Are you facing disability retirement, loss of income, and uncertainty of your future? And, Did your headaches with dizziness cost you over seventy thousand dollars in aneurysm repair and later on nearly twenty thousand dollars for ICU care from a dissection?” (Oh, how I thank God everyday for insurance benefits!) Even though we might wish we could scream out these stress-filled inward thoughts, remarks, and comments, most of the time we simply smile, nod, and reply, “Thank you.” I know of a precious young mother who suffered from a very rare form of cancer. She endures all kinds of pain and discomfort. (She still suffers today.) She speaks of a time when she was hospitalized and had a family member to visit her bedside. As she lie suffering in intense pain and not knowing of her future, the visitor went on, and on, and on about what a bad day they had endured…traffic, bad hair day, pesky encounters with work peers, etc., etc. After enduring the comments the visitor was making, she finally responded, “Would you like to trade places with me?” In reality, no matter what we are facing, things can always be worse. Even though I may have suffered open-heart surgery as a child, a bad pap smear resulting in a hysterectomy at the age of twenty-four, diagnosed at thirty-years-old with Lupus (that God brought about a miraculous healing), a breast lumpectomy (thankfully benign), a brain aneurysm, a fall resulting in back surgery, and six-weeks later a cerebral vertebral artery dissection, I am alive and can still walk and talk! Praise the Lord! Last August, as my husband and I walked through Emory’s ICU stroke unit as a part of my physical therapy, I witnessed patient after patient lying unconscience of their surroundings living and breathing from life-support…That could have been me. So, when I do become short-tempered, anxious, fearful, filled with stress, I try to remind myself of how much worse it could be, and how grateful I am to be alive with only mild to moderate limitations in certain areas of my life. All of this reminds me of a lesser known Bible figure found in the Book of Chronicles, Jabez. The very name, Jabez, in the Hebrew language means, “pain.” How would you like to walk around with the name, “Pain!” What was his mother thinking! In all reality, she must have been thinking about the pain she had just endured during labor and delivery. If that is the case, then most of us mothers would call our children, Pain! Yet, Jabez is sited for one of the most beloved and courageous prayers in the Bible…The Prayer of Jabez. “Oh, that Thou (God) would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Thou hand would be with me, and that Thou would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.” Amen. So awesome. Here is a man named of his mother, “Pain.” Yet, he is seeking and asking God in prayer that he may NOT cause pain. What a wonderful lesson for all of us to learn. How precious. What a beautiful, unselfish request; that we do not cause pain to others. How much better our lives and our society would be if we earnestly sought God that we, ourselves, would not cause pain to others. I believe for those of us who do suffer and endure various forms of pain; some more than others, that we, too, pray not to cause pain to our loved ones or those around us. I feel that through our own personal pains and experiences we become more compassionate and understanding of others and wish to be a blessing and a source of comfort to others in need. Today, you may be suffering intensely, either from physical, mental, or emotional pain. If so, I am so sorry and do pray that the very God of Jabez will comfort, sustain, and heal you of any fears, stresses, worries, and concerns. I also pray that today’s inward revealing blog may be a source of encouragement to you that we all have days and times when we get frustrated and aggrevated with our circumstances and situations…But, I, too, as Jabez, pray that God will bless me (and you, as well) indeed; and enlarge my territory; and be with me to keep me from evil; and that I may not cause pain. Amen. Thank you Sweet Jesus for Your peace that passes all understanding and comforts our hearts daily.
Remember, God Loves You!
Lin T. Rollins, Author