Asking Why to Chronic Pain at Age 22
There were many instances when I and others around me fell toward the latter pole. Is God disciplining me for some reason? I wondered. Then I got angry because I felt the punishment was undeserved or at least unfair compared to the (seemingly) easy lives of my friends. Once, after receiving prayer for healing at a church we visited, the woman praying looked up and asked, "Are you harboring any unforgiveness?" While a legitimate question in the abstract, the link she drew between physical and spiritual well being put me off. From my own experience and those of many others, this is not a generalizable principle.
Sometimes I abandoned spiritual explanations altogether and wandered off on scientific and medical rabbit trails: Perhaps I had a genetic disorder that caused my joints to injure more easily than normal. Perhaps it actually all started with my gut and the antibiotics I had taken when I was younger. Even if one of these explanations was the case, though, I was always left with the question, But why me?
About a year after the pain started, the burden of existential despair subsided. I'm not sure why. Partly, I was just tired of asking God questions that he wasn't answering. Also, I began to stop my thoughts from wandering too deep into the past and future and focused instead on the present. Today, over two years later, I still have some pain, but have improved greatly in mobility and pain level. Again, I'm not sure exactly why. Was I healed? Was it time? Was it the physical therapy? Was my body finally able to recover once I released my viselike anxiety over it? All of the above?
It is tempting to try to connect all the dots. I want to be able to look back and discern some cause and effect. I prayed, I trusted, then God answered. I surrendered my life, then God gave it back to me. Or, at least, I took these supplements for three months and followed this stretching regime religiously, and now I am better. Sometimes, this is the case. But the scores of dark, painful days, treatments with no seeming effect, and silence from God keep me from being too quick to assign meaning to anything.
I believe there is a meaning. I know God loves me and cares for me and won't in the long run let me down. That's what gives me the hope to get up another day and face life's unpredictability. But I can't presume to know precisely what that meaning is. At least not yet.