Where Is God in Chronic Pain?


how to find faith in chronic pain

Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash.

I am deeply honored to share my friend Tiffany’s story here on Lizzy Life. It’s a scary and vulnerable thing to share your life, your pain, and your faith journey with others…I’m so thankful that Tiffany was willing to share hers with all of us. Her words brought tears to my eyes. Whether you struggle with chronic pain, physical challenges, or any kind of suffering that is beyond your control, I know your faith will be strengthened by these words. 

Hey there, Lizzy Life followers! My name is Tiffany Chacon and I’m honored to share about my journey with pain and waiting for healing.

At the beginning of 2013, I started to have debilitating pain in my joints. At the time, I was a riding instructor at a local horse farm. I would get home from teaching lessons at the end of the day and literally crawl up the stairs to our apartment because I was in so much pain. I started to see an orthopedic doctor and then a sports medicine doctor, and when neither helped, I went to a rheumatologist, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a physical therapist… the list goes on. I got a knee brace, shoe insoles, a plethora of medications and side effects, and a myriad of injections in my joints. Instead of getting better, the pain only got worse.

With every new doctor, I would hope that this would be THE ONE. This would be the doctor who would know what was wrong with me. This would be the therapy to finally “fix” me. This medication would make it all go away. But it didn’t. I found the truth in this verse: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).

Three years into my journey with pain, I was consistently walking with a cane and taking several medications daily just to function. The pain kept me up at night—I spent a lot of nights crying on the bathroom floor, praying to God, feeling so alone and defeated. I was unable to work, barely able to go to church. There were days when I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without help from my husband.

The pain brought up so many questions in my life. First, the practical: What is happening to me? How can we fix this? How long will this last? Then, the relational and spiritual: My husband didn’t sign up for this. What will my friends think of me when I can’t keep up with them? Why would God allow me to be in pain—I can’t DO anything for Him like this.

I was 25 years old at the time. All of my friends were advancing in their careers, going on fun vacations, moving on with their lives. All things that I was not able to do. I kept thinking, I have one life…and this is it?

how to find faith in chronic pain

My first instinct was to run from God, curl up in a little ball and watch America’s Next Top Model until the pain went away. When that didn’t work, I turned to the Scriptures and to prayer. I wrote this verse on my mirror and would pray over it on an almost daily basis:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)

As I focused on God’s Word and his eternal promises—the hope of real healing, of true comfort in heaven, of eternal glory—I began to see how God was working through my pain.


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How to Find God—and Joy—When Life Is Hard


When my husband, Tyler, and I were first married, I would always ask him, “Do you love me?” Most of the time I would say it playfully, but the question came from an intense longing to feel secure in his love for me. Whenever he responded to my inquiry, I would pay attention to his tone of voice, his body language, his eyes, to gauge just how much he actually loved me.

Now, nine years later, I can’t think of the last time I asked Tyler that question, and I’ll tell you why: as I suffered these past few years, he suffered, too.

In Tyler’s wedding vows, he said, “If you don’t sleep, I won’t sleep.” And as we close in on our ten-year anniversary, he has proven true to his word. When I couldn’t sleep because of the pain, Tyler would stay awake with me and pray over me. He didn’t need to tell me he loved me anymore, because he showed he loved me.

finding faith in chronic pain

And the same has been true of my relationship with God: throughout my life, it seems that my prayers to Him have always been similar to my questions to Tyler. Do you love me? Are you sure? And, as I became more “useless” to God during my flare-ups, the question became: Do you love me while I’m like this? And God’s resounding answer to me has been yes.

One moment stands out in particular. In December 2015, I had to have surgery, and I was terrified. For some reason the thing I was most scared of was going into surgery alone—I was petrified thinking about being alone in the brief time when they take you away from your friends and family and wheel you from the hospital room to the operating room. In the hours leading up to the surgery, I prayed a specific prayer: God, hold my hand. Be with me as I go into surgery. And when the moment came for me to say goodbye to my family and go to the operating room, as the nurses were wheeling me away, the surgeon ran up to my bed and took my hand. She held my hand all the way to the operating room, and kept holding it until I was asleep. Of course, she didn’t know about my prayer—she didn’t even know I was afraid. But God did — and I really believe that through her, God Himself was holding my hand all the way to the operating room and into surgery. In that moment I saw that God was a present help in my trouble (Psalm 46) and He would hold my hand as long as I needed.

Last year, I read Elizabeth’s book, When God Says, “Wait, and the questions that struck me the most were: How will I wait? and Who will I become along this journey?

As I read the book and wrestled with the ambiguity of my waiting game, I realized that I couldn’t actually control anything about my situation except for my attitude and actions during this period of indefinite waiting. In that moment, I decided:

I am going to be hopeful.

I will find the joy in daily living.

I am going to ask for help when I need it.

I am going to be willing to tell my story, to talk about my pain.

How God can help you deal with chronic pain

Instead of focusing on what I can’t do, I will be grateful for what I can do.

I won’t give in to the “what ifs,” but will find hope in the “yet” (WGSW, p. 141).

I will use my waiting journey to allow God to shape me, to make me into the person He created me to be (WGSW, p. 28).

Since making these decisions, I have to admit that I have not waited perfectly. I have let my mind go crazy with the what ifs, I have had pity parties, I have retreated back into my turtle shell of pain and pushed out the people who love me. But I have also had victories: I have had days when I’ve been in pain and I’ve been joyful anyway. I have shared my story with others and found that it gave them strength. I have relished the little victories and have praised God along the way. 

Almost five years into my journey with pain, I still don’t have answers about what is causing the pain, if and when it will ever go away, or what my life will look like tomorrow. But I do have the answers to some of life’s most important questions:

Even in the pain, I know that God loves me.

Even in the pain, I know that Tyler will be beside me through it.

Even in the pain, I know who I want to be.

Tiffany, your example is an inspiration and your faith is a comfort and guide. Thank you for sharing your story—and your heart. 


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read:

My new books:

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Scriptures to Read When You’re Anxious

When You Walk Through a Valley

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

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8 Scriptures to Read When You’re Anxious


best scriptures to read when you're anxious

Anybody else struggling with anxious thoughts lately?

When I’m anxious, my mind starts swirling—fast and wild, a tornado of thoughts. If I want to stop the madness, I have to turn to godly friends and godly words. I can’t share my friends with you (sorry), but I can share some of my favorite anxiety-fighting Bible verses. These scriptures speak peace to my paranoia and bring logic to my emotions. They bring God into whatever situation I’m worried about. They remind me that He is aware and I’m not alone. They remind me that however big my problems may feel, my God is much bigger. My God is big enough, wise enough, kind enough. They remind me that God stands outside time and outside what is humanly possible—and with Him, all difficulties are manageable.

Whether you have chronic anxiety or you’re just going through a stressful season of life, if you’re feeling anxious, these scriptures will help. They are also helpful scriptures to read with your kids and teens when they are anxious. No, these passages won’t make your problems go away, but they will help you find a more godly viewpoint for whatever you are worrying about.

8 Scriptures to Read When You’re Anxious

best Bible verses to read when you're anxious

1. Psalm 131

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord
    both now and forevermore.

I stumbled upon this psalm when I was a stressed-out teenager, and I’ve been reading it ever since! “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me”…how I love that. Sometimes I find myself worrying over things that are God’s concern, not mine. That person who needs to change? Not my job—God’s job. That scary situation in the world that needs fixing? Not my job—God’s job. I can bring the problem before God, then leave it where it belongs—in His capable hands.

“I am like a weaned child with its mother…I am content.” My five-year-old still believes I can do anything and I know everything. (Please, no one tell her differently for a few years!) When I step on the scene, all her problems are about to be fixed. Her little world is safe and secure. That’s how we should feel with God—and the best thing is, He can do anything, and He does know everything!

2. Psalm 37:1–11

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.

Please oh please meditate on the whole psalm, but for the sake of space I’m just including the first 11 verses. I read this psalm whenever I’m angry or obsessing over something that’s out of my control—conflict with a coworker or friend? Your reputation at risk from gossip or unfairness? Something bad happening in your kid’s life and you can’t fully protect them from it? This is your psalm. It’s a sanity- and righteousness-saver, reminding us that God loves justice even more than we do, and in His time, in His way, He will find a way to set things right…but in the meantime, our anger and anxiety accomplish nothing.


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3. Psalm 25:1–17 (emphasis added)

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust.

I trust in you;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
    will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
    who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
    for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, Lord, are good….

14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
    he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will release my feet from the snare.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.

Again, please look up the whole Psalm. But how comforting is this? Our hope must be in God—in God, not in circumstances. Not in people. Not in our own abilities. And when should it be in Him? All. Day. Long. And aren’t these the very words you long to say to God? “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.” And we all say, “Amen.”

4. Matthew 10:28–31

 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

We fear the wrong things (and people), don’t we? We worry over temporary, earth-bound problems, but Jesus always encourages us to remember what really matters: pleasing God and making it to heaven. And then He encourages us: We are valuable to God, noticed by God, known by God.

5. 1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

It doesn’t get any simpler—or more encouraging—than this, does it? He cares for you. He wants to carry your worries. Repeat those words 1,000 times—or as many times as it takes until you believe them!

6. Psalm 27:1–5, 13–14 (emphasis added)

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
    to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock….

13I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Be strong. Take heart. The Lord is our stronghold—who then shall we fear? We can have every confidence that we will see the goodness of God—and not just in heaven—now. Here. On earth. We need only wait for Him.

7. Luke 10:38–42

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

“You are worried and upset about many things.” Um, yep. Guilty. Jesus’ kind words to Martha—can’t you hear the friendly affection in the way He says, “Martha, Martha”?—are a powerful reminder that sometimes, like Martha, we are stressed out because we are focused on the wrong things. The here and now, the mundane details of daily life, the way our behavior and performance might be perceived by others…but our walk with God deserves our first and best attention.

8. Philippians 4:6–7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? How often have I prayed these words, claiming them as a promise: “Lord, I give my worries to You. Please give me your powerful peace. Please guard my heart and protect my mind from worry and fear.”

I pray these verses help to give you the peace you need and the faith you seek as you battle anxiety!


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

My new books, When God Says, “Go” and When God Says, “Wait”

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It’s GO time for When God Says, “Go!”


When God Says Go

Here we go again!

After months spent burning the midnight—er, light bulbs—at Starbucks, downing more caffeine than one small human should consume, and begging God nonstop for wisdom and inspiration and courage, today When God Says, “Go” is going out into the world!

So what’s this book about?

If you are facing a challenge that has you scared to death…I wrote this book for you.

If you are facing change you never saw coming…I wrote this book for you.

If scary things make you want to run hide under the covers…I wrote this book for you.

If hard things make you want to curl up in a ball in a puddle of tears…I wrote this book for you.

If it’s time to find courage that you have never needed before, and never wanted to need… I wrote this book for you.

When God says, “Go,” we face one of life’s greatest decisions.
When God says, “Go,” we must face our fears. . .our excuses. . .and our selves.
When God says, “Go,” it’s time to answer His call wherever it leads.

In this book, we walk alongside people of the Bible who were called by God to fulfill His purposes. . .people like Moses, Esther, Abigail, Jeremiah, Mary, and others. These Bible heroes responded much like we do—with a jumbled-up inner storm of excitement and fear, insecurity and hope. Their stories and struggles can provide a roadmap for our stories, helping us face our own doubts, regrets, and worries.

When God calls, it’s time to go. Maybe somewhere new, someplace you’ve never been. Maybe it’s time to go forward after being stuck with one foot in the past. Maybe it’s time to go deeper—in Bible study or relationships. Time to go higher—in prayer or dreams. Time to go and give—to use talents and opportunities God has given. Or maybe it’s time to go and grow, right where you are. . .to dig into the Word, dive into your heart, and become the person God is calling you to be.

When God Says, “Go” is suitable for study by a coed audience and makes the perfect gift for graduates! You can also download a free small-group discussion guide.

Before we go: I want to send a supersonic, all-caps-because-I’m-so-grateful-and-my-fingers-are-shouting THANK YOU to all the people who have helped this little book enter the world. (You can read all about their wonderfulness in the book’s acknowledgments, but—sending thanks to my family and friends; my writing partner, Emma; my agent, Jessica Kirkland; the outstanding team at Barbour—Kelly! Shalyn! Liesl! Mary! Lauren! Faith! Morgan!—I owe them all more than I can say.) A very big thank you to friends who endorsed this book: Andy LeeEmily LeySpence HackneyCaroline Harries, Sarah PhilpottBekah PogueTracy Steel, Courtney Westlake…I am humbled and honored by the gift of your words.

I also want to send a big shout-out to my launch team members (you know who you are!) for sharing your time, your hearts, and your words in order to help this book find its place.

And thank YOU for being part of my life and writing ministry!

You can purchase When God Says, “Go” at any of these retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

ChristianBook

Google Play

Ready or not, God is calling us all to go somewhere new in our walk with Him. So what are we waiting for? Let’s answer His call. Ready? Set? Here we go!


If you want to help give this book a little push out into the world, here are some easy ways you can do so:

  • Leave a book review on Amazon, B & N, ChristianBook, or Goodreads. (This is a huge help for authors!)
  • You can recommend that your church use the book as a study series. It is packed with scripture and is suitable for study by a coed audience. (You can download the free small-group discussion guide here.)
  • Tell your church that When God Says, “Go” makes the perfect congregational gift for high school and college graduates!
  • Share about the book’s release on social media.


When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

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