Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. – Psalm 103:2-5

There are many different kinds of pain we experience in life, from broken bones to broken hearts, and everything in between. The healing time and treatment for these wounds is different case by case. Oftentimes we want to apply a quick fix to our brokenness, or to ignore it for one more day. This ends up doing far more damage than good. We were not meant to live a painful life. There will be suffering, yes, but in everything God has provided a healthy way to handle pain. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about healing in Christ.

Chronic and Acute Pain

In the medical world, pain is described in one of two ways – either acute or chronic. Acute pain is short lived, usually caused by an injury, and typically resolves itself as the soft tissue heals. The treatment for this type of pain is usually rest, band aids, and aspirin. It’s a quick fix, and the pain is soon forgotten. Chronic pain, on the other hand, is an ongoing pain that lasts years. It can come and go in waves, and be caused by any number of things, from nerve damage to muscle deterioration. The cure for pain like this is a bit more complicated. There is a treatment plan that can include a cycle of medication, tests to determine an underlying cause, and even exploratory surgeries.

For years, my mom had chronic pain in the form of migraines, vertigo, and general aches and pains in her head. She went to the doctor and tried different migraine medications, changed her diet, cut back hours at work, tried anything and everything to get ahead of the pain that seemed to control her life, but nothing worked. Finally, after nine years of barely managing this chronic pain, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After multiple surgeries and recovery time, she is back on the road to restoring her health.

The Danger Of The Quick Fix

In our Christian circles, the “quick fix” parades as good intentions. “Read the Bible, pray more, God will heal you.” While these are good and true things, it produces a works-based reward system that feeds off of guilt and bitterness. The underlying logic behind such statements is that if you pray more, God will give you more. If you read your Bible longer, God will bless you. But that’s not how grace works. With both physical healing, and emotional healing, it is not enough to wait it out, or be a “better” Christian; we must do the hard work of learning the lessons God has presented us in this season. When my mom first found out about her brain tumor, instead of wallowing in fear or self-pity (as would be most of our default reactions) she asked that God would give her one thing each day to encourage her and remind her of His goodness and faithfulness in every situation. Sometimes it came in the form of an encouraging text, or a home cooked meal delivered just in time. One day it was simply watching the sunset from the porch. Don’t just pray more, pray for a right attitude, and prepared heart. Don’t just read your Bible more, integrate the words you are reading on the page into your way of thinking, your very posture towards pain and how it is being used in your life right now.

Freedom To Heal In Christ

Once you have acknowledged that the healing of the gospel doesn’t come from how much we read or pray, but rather what we have already received through Christ, you are free from the burden and guilt of the quick fix. This road to healing is not an easy one, and physical healing is not guaranteed this side of heaven. Choose to live a life that engages your pain in a way that makes it a part of the bigger purpose of your life, but not the whole of your life. It is a process of being intentional with how you think about your pain that will change how you feel and live.

The Road To Recovery

Confess. James 5:16 tells us that confession and prayer for one another is healing, and that the prayer of a righteous person has great power. If you are seeking emotional and spiritual healing, confession is the first step on the road to recovery. Even in physical healing, confession of bitterness or any wrong thoughts or attitudes towards your pain is an important step in enduring this trial set before you.

Transform, don’t transfer pain. There is an old adage, “hurt people, hurt people,” meaning that those who have been hurt in their past tend to be the ones who lash out and cause pain in other people’s lives. It is up to you to break this cycle! Don’t transfer your pain to those around you, it will not make you feel any better. Instead, transform your pain into compassion for those around you.

Choose to trust God, instead of pleasing him by making up for your mistakes. If you are constantly trying to “do right” by God, you will always fall short. There is nothing we can do to repay our debt; that’s the beauty of grace. Living in the past and making up for mistakes only robs us of current joy and the freedom to move on.

Focus on the good. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re pretty blessed. This is not to take away from the very real pain you are experiencing through whatever trials God has for you, but to adjust your focus to what matters. You are loved by the Creator of the universe, and he has a plan and a purpose for you. He has provided all that you need for today. That’s a pretty big deal, if you think about it. Recovery may take a lifetime, but we are given the tools to live today to the fullest, and our mission is to bring glory to God in any and every way possible.