4 Things I’ve Learned From My Dad Battling Chronic Pain
For the past eight years my dad has been battling horrible, chronic pain. He’s had to retire early and spends most of his day laying in bed. I can honestly say that I’ve never faithfully prayed for someone to be healed more than my dad. But instead of the pain getting better, it’s only gotten worse. He’s gone to every doctor and specialist, tried acupuncture, chiropractors, and had surgeries, with no answers.
And so I say all of this, and yet I don’t know many people who are more joy-filled than my dad. In the midst of terrible pain, joy and peace seem to pour out of him. Through his attitude, words, actions, and life.
My dad is my hero and throughout his life he has taught me so much. But for the last eight years of pain, he’s taught me some of the greatest lessons.
Struggle with chronic pain yourself or maybe just a bad attitude? Here are four of the things I’ve learned from dad’s battle with chronic pain:
Take time to connect with God.
My dad would tell you that he was a “good Christian” before his health stuff started happening, but he didn’t take the time to just be with God and open the Bible. Why? Because he didn’t think he had the time. He’s a recovering workaholic.
Now that he has to lay down for most of the day, what he has is time. Time to sit with God, the source of joy! Time to open up His Word. Finding those pieces of hope and joy in the Bible bring him the “spark” he needs to keep going. Passing on what he’s learning to other people he knows in similar situations gives him unexplainable joy.
My day and yours might look different than my dad’s, but his commitment to making time to connect with God is something all of us need to do. Whether it’s getting up earlier to sit with God or making an effort to talk with Him throughout the day, taking time to connect with God is something we all need to do, whatever our circumstances. When our joy comes from God, it never runs out.
2. Ditch the “woe is me” attitude for compassion toward others.
If anyone could complain, it would be someone who’s been in constant pain for eight years. But that doesn’t help anything. When my dad starts feeling sorry for himself he prays and reaches out to people instead of pulling away and getting isolated. He says it’s like a cycle, and when things are bad it’s easy to let the situation get you down. Instead of focusing on himself, regardless of his circumstances, he instead chooses to focus on others and how he can serve them.
He does it quietly, not drawing attention to himself, but my dad is always looking for people to connect with that are going through similar trials.
We can all get into the “woe is me” mindset sometimes. With marriage, kids, school, our jobs, it’s easy to feel bad about the hand we’ve been dealt. But we’re so much better off focusing on God and on others. We’re so much more compassionate, we’re so much more joy-filled when we take a step back and ask how we can serve God and other people, despite our own circumstances.
3. Seek out support.
My dad has been part of a chronic pain support group for years now, and he says it’s one of the most encouraging things in his life. It’s a group of people with chronic pain who meet online because of their physical limitations.
When we’re in the middle of a rough time it’s easy to want to be alone in our pain, but that’s when we need others the most. In those places, seek out support. It doesn’t need to be a formal group, but find people who will lift you up and point you to Jesus.
We all need the support of others, in every season. When things are going smoothly, pour into others, and when they’re not, allow yourself to be poured into. There’s never a bad time to have that supportive community around you.
4. Find things that bring you joy.
A lot of my dad’s joy since his pain started has come from little things.
A phone call from a friend.
People saying they’re praying for him.
Photos of his family.
Having his grandkids visit.
These might seem like small things, but they make a big difference in his day. He makes an effort to find things that bring him joy.
What are some of the things that bring you joy?
Do those things.
Spend time with those people.
Serve in that way.
Joy isn’t something that comes from circumstances, a lot of the time we need to find it. My dad is a great example of finding joy in the middle of failing health, but we all have the ability to find a similar joy.
My dad is one of the simplest yet wisest people I know. He’s been through a lot over the past eight years, and I know there’s others out there who are battling similar health failures.
Whether you’re going through a health crisis or not, I hope his words can be an encouragement to you. I know they have been to me.
This blog is shared with permission from Adam Weber.