Jesus Understands Our Invisible Pain
So the last couple of posts I’ve mentioned that I haven’t been feeling well, that I have been in pain. Had the beginnings of a migraine two days last week but was able to catch it in time, and then started having a mild flare up of my fibromyalgia.
I really didn’t want to write about it, but then I realized that sharing my struggles with this syndrome might help someone else who struggles with invisible pain.
When someone breaks a leg, or suffers a severe burn, or is covered with cuts and bruises it is easy for people to see what is wrong and to sympathize. But the pain of fibromyalgia is invisible pain. From the outside the person suffering with the pain of fibromyalgia looks just fine, and so people don’t understand what they are going through.
It is also an unpredictable pain with no easily determinable cause or trigger. One day you feel just fine and you wake up the next day feeling like you got run over by a freight train. I’ve gone for months feeling fine, with very little pain, then suddenly every muscle in my body aches and certain movements cause sharp pains in my legs, arms, and neck.
I try to figure out why. I’ve had doctors give me conflicting theories of what causes this pain, and I have read conflicting theories as well. One doctor told me it is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Another has told me it is caused by what I eat, by an inability of my muscles to process sugar that results in toxins in my muscles. Another suggested it is a symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that stems from some early trauma. I have also read that there is a strong link between fibromyalgia and Epstein Bar Virus (or mononucleosis), which I had when I was in junior high. Finally, I have read that it is simply hereditary.
The pain of fibromyalgia is truly invisible. There is no medical test that shows whether someone has fibromyalgia. There is a “tender point” test in which the doctor checks 18 designated tender points on the body and if 11 or more are tender to the touch a diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be made. But even that test is somewhat subjective.
All my life I have felt pain in circumstances where someone else thought I shouldn’t have felt pain. I can remember saying something hurt when I was a kid only to be told, “That didn’t hurt.” This summer I experienced pain from something that didn’t seem like it should hurt. I was at my cousin’s house in Houston and his granddaughter was playing with three pine cones. She kept handing them to me to play with, but the sharp points started to really hurt my hands. I said I didn’t want to play anymore because it made my hands hurt. My sister looked at me and asked, “Does that really hurt?”
Invisible pain. It’s difficult to cope with sometimes. But I know that Jesus knows how I feel, and that give me a great deal of comfort. Although the pain Jesus experienced when He was scourged, beaten, and crucified was quite visible, He experienced an invisible pain, too. He experienced the pain of having the sin of the world laid upon Him and of His Father turning away as He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 (NIV).
If you struggle under the weight of invisible pain, take heart that you are not alone. Christ understands your suffering and your pain. You also have fellow Christians who understand what you are going through. The apostle Peter provided for us who suffer a wonderful encouragement in his first epistle:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11 (NIV).
Satan would love to devour us in our pain, to make us fall and cease to be of use in God’s kingdom. But if we cling to Jesus, cast all of our fears and anxiety on Him, He will help us to defeat Satan’s plans. If you are struggling with invisible pain and feeling like you are at your wit’s end, leave me a comment and I would love to pray for you. It would be a blessing to me to be able to ask our Lord to strengthen you and give you peace and comfort, that you might be enabled to stand firm in your faith. Would you do the same for me?
Linda, thank you for your article on invisible pain. I have fibromyalgia, depression, osteoarthritis,…my daughter and husband have bi-polar. I related to what you said about always feeling pain from things that shouldn’t hurt. I experience the same thing. I learned as a child to deny my pain because I was told it didn’t exist. When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia I stayed in denial for 4 years. My family still doesn’t understand and it has been about 15 years. Something I have learned, when I am feeling my worse I have to depend on God more. Over time I can see how God has used my pain to teach me many things. His ways are beyond our understanding. I do know he loves me and understands my pain. It is not forever, we will be free of pain some day. I will pray for you. Thank you for your compassionate words. blessings, Kerrie
Kerrie, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I love it when God uses something I wrote months or years ago to encourage someone. I will be praying for you. I have actually had a great deal of relief from my pain when I quit eating dairy to try to alleviate a different health problem. It’s not easy because dairy proteins hide in a lot of foods you wouldn’t expect it to be in, like lunch meats. I am still sensitive to pain stimuli that others don’t understand, but it’s tolerable now. But the greatest comfort comes from knowing with all my heart that God is with me always. Peace, Linda
All truly fascinating. I’ve read about this sickness and how people who don’t have it can’t imagine that it could hurt that bad.
Bipolar disorder = invisible pain. If you look normal you must be normal. Even my mom doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong with me.
I’m really glad you wrote about this, Linda. It’s therapeutic, isn’t it? Satan must be working overtime given the number of blog friends who are suffering with various conditions right now. It’s so hard to fight when everything hurts.
Already praying for you… hugs : )
Linda, I truly appreciate the prayers. All of us with “invisible pain” need each others prayers. I’m glad this post was encouraging for you; it was therapeutic for me to write. And if Satan thinks he’s going to succeed in derailing us, he’s got another think coming, because God will use our pain for His glory when we rest in Him. Peace, Linda
I meant to tell you … I have been praying for you. I didn’t know why, but I have been praying. Will continue.
Ann, Thank you. I love it when the Holy Spirit leads us to pray for others even if we don’t know what there need is. What a wonderful blessing to know you’ve been listening. 🙂 Peace, Linda
I will be praying for toy in your pain. You are a great encourager, always lifting everyone else up, I apprciate it. I will pray that your pain will ease, and that they will wine an cure for your fibromyalgia. God Bless-Jim
Jim, It is interesting how being an encouragement to others serves to lift me up, I end up being encouraged, too. 🙂 I could just go hide in my room and not post, not try to be an encouragement even when I am struggling, but I know that would just make me feel worse instead of better. Thank you for your prayers. Peace, Linda
You bet Sis, I looked back over what I write earlier, and it is clear the meds were steering my fingers, haha. We need to get well so we can get back to being warriors for Christ, eh? You are a great encouragement!
Oh yes, Linda, I am praying for you. And thank you for praying for me and for Aubrey. When she was younger, it was even harder for people to understand, to “see” anything wrong with her. It was thought to be behavioral, lack of good parenting on my part.
Also, you help me understand my mom’s pain better, so thank you for blessing me that way. I know that things like getting her blood pressure checked hurt her and when they put that rubber band around her arm, before drawing blood, she almost cries. It makes me want to cry too, for her. Big help I am! Now I want to ask her if maybe I shouldn’t hug her, even though I try to be gentle . . .
God bless you and give you comfort from your pain today, and a peace from His understanding and love of you.
Deb, You are such a wonderful encouragement to me! I will keep your mom in my prayers, too. I can relate to the rubber band thing – I hate to have blood taken not because of the needle but the rubber band being put on my arm. It is so frustrating to have things hurt that don’t seem like they should. I remember when we went to Cancun about 6 years ago and my husband and I both had our hair braided in corn rows. He thought it was great, like he was getting a scalp massage. I thought I was going to die because it hurt my head so bad to have her pulling on my hair to braid it – felt like she was going to pull the hair right out of my head! But the good thing is that it has taught me compassion for others. 🙂 Peace, Linda