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.


Let’s keep in touch! Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you a free ebook:

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

Before you go, sign up for my newsletter and your free ebook!

Share this post with a friend who needs it:


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

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave


Three Psalms to Inspire Gratitude


3 psalms to help you pray grateful prayers

Gratitude is so good for our hearts. It reminds us to look past today’s temporary troubles to see the big picture of God’s everlasting care and concern. It reminds us that life is not as dark as it sometimes feels. It heals our wounds and protects us from bitterness. It reminds us of God’s faithfulness in the past, which gives us confidence as we look to the future. Gratitude strengthens our faith, cures our self-centeredness, and makes us happier people. The minute we start thinking about things we are grateful for, our mood and perspective start to shift. (Try it! Quick—think about 5 things you are thankful for. I bet you feel happier already, don’t you? Keep going with that list and you might even hit warm-and-cozy-in-a-cuddly-blanket-on-a-cold-fall-day levels of happiness!)

With Thanksgiving upon us (How is that possible? I just vacuumed the summer sand out of my car!), we are all looking for ways to express gratitude. I love borrowing words from the psalms to guide my prayers. I start by reading the psalm aloud to God, and after a few verses I usually find myself taking detours, adding praise and thanks of my own inspired by the psalmist’s words. If your prayer life needs a boost in gratitude, try praying through these three psalms! I abbreviated them a little here, but they are (of course) beautiful in their entirety.

3 psalms to help you be thankful

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God. . . .
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion. . . .

10 Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.

Psalm 89

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
    with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
    through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
    that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
    and make your throne firm through all generations.’”

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
    your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
    Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
    he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
    You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

Psalm 66

Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
    Sing the glory of his name;
    make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power
    that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
    they sing praise to you,
    they sing the praises of your name.”

Come and see what God has done,
    his awesome deeds for mankind!
He turned the sea into dry land,
    they passed through the waters on foot—
    come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules forever by his power,
    his eyes watch the nations—
    let not the rebellious rise up against him. . . .

12 You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but you brought us to a place of abundance. . . .

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
    let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
    his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!

Thank you for reading, and for sharing a bit of life with me here on this little corner of the Web. Wishing you a wonderful holiday with the ones you love.


Looking for a great gift for Thanksgiving or Christmas? When God Says “Wait” is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.com. I am deeply thankful to all of you who have read, reviewed, and shared WGSW. You are on my heart and in my prayers.

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


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

When Life Poops on Your Party

13 Scriptures to Read with Your Daughter

Outshine the Dark

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave


Answering Skeptics by Douglas Jacoby: Review and Giveaway!


First, before we get to the good stuff (a giveaway of a SIGNED BOOK from one of my favorite writers!)…a quick life update. It’s been quiet around here. Like, graveyard quiet. But I promise I haven’t died—and neither has Lizzy Life! I just had to put myself on total writing and family lockdown from June till October in order to finish my new book (!), When God Says “Go”: Rising to Challenge and Change Without Losing Your Confidence, Your Courage, or Your Cool. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this book’s message. It releases July 31, 2018, so you’ll hear more about it in the coming months. But bottom line, I had to choose between blogging and family life, and I chose family life. I couldn’t write a book, blog, and be the wife and mother my family needs all at the same time (Wonder Woman only exists in the movies, right?! And I never see her doing laundry…), so there you have it. But I missed all of you, and to celebrate being back, I’m giving away a signed book! Woohoo!

Right after I turned in When God Says “Go” to my publisher, I had the great joy of speaking at a Women’s Day in West Palm Beach. We laughed, we cried, we ate…is there any more to life?! It was a bonding, joyful time of connection and growth, and I loved being with that vibrant group of ladies. (I even introduced myself in Spanish, which nearly gave me a heart attack from terror—but they forgave my grammar mistakes, and it was fun! I’m trying to push my fearful self to be a little more brave every day…) Here’s a slideshow of the day (that adorable blond lady in the first picture is my mom, Geri!):

And PS, speaking of speaking…I am booked up for travel this winter and spring (except for events in my home state of NC), but I still have some speaking dates available for fall 2018. If your church is looking to host a women’s event, I’d love to come spend time with your church! Find more information about topics here. You can also email me at elizabeth at lizzylife dot com.

Okay, on to the book and the giveaway!

Answering Skeptics by Dr. Douglas Jacoby

Have you ever spoken with someone who was skeptical about God, the Bible, and Christianity? You wanted to share with them, but when you searched your brain for brilliant and convincing reasons for faith, you came up short? Your friend mentioned some questions, you opened your mouth, and all you could come up with was, “Uhhhhh, yeah, I don’t know about that, but I like Jesus”? So then you ended up slinking away, frustrated with yourself that although you love God and your faith makes sense to you, you don’t know how to share that faith.

Last year, I had the honor of editing Answering Skeptics by Dr. Douglas Jacoby, and now I am thrilled to introduce you to this amazing resource—and to give you an opportunity to win a free copy signed by the author! Woot!

Not only will this book prepare you to answer faith-related questions of all kinds, it will also bolster and refresh your own faith. It will even provide answers to some of the faith questions that may have lingered in the back of your mind, questions like:

Does science contradict the Bible?

Can a Christian believe in evolution?

Has the Bible been changed?

If God is good, why does he allow evil and suffering?

What is the difference between agnosticism and atheism? How do I reach out to agnostics and atheists?

How can I connect with people of other faiths—Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and more?

Douglas Jacoby is a master apologist and teacher. He uses his decades of experience teaching and ministering to people all over the world to educate and equip us as we share Christ in our own neighborhoods. Answering Skeptics is a quick, engaging read. Concise chapters offer understandable explanations and practical tips for communicating clearly with our friends. This book is an accessible resource for Christians who want to strengthen their own faith and better equip themselves to share with critics, doubters, and seekers. I can’t recommend it enough! You can buy your copy here.

And I’ve got a signed copy to give away!

You can enter the raffle here. It ends November 3. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

My new book, When God Says “Wait”

When Your Life Feels Wasted

13 Scriptures to Read with Your Daughter

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave


Spanx Your Mind


how to train your thoughts

Today I’m honored to introduce a guest post from Jeanie Shaw, of JeaniesJourneys.com—or as I like to call her, “Jeanie the Hilarious and Wise.” Jeanie is not only the mother of one of my dearest lifelong friends, but over the years she has become my friend too. Several times a year, Jeanie and I nearly kill ourselves together, working to usher her new books into the world—and somehow, we always have fun almost-dying at the hands of grammar and formatting. I know you’ll enjoy Jeanie’s words of wisdom as much as I do: 

Spanx Your Mind

Have you ever tried to put on Spanx (aka . . . a girdle)?

Spanx don’t just slide on quickly. It takes a bit of fight to get that tight, slippery garment into place so that it can do its job of tucking . . . “things” . . . in. I just tried it, and yes, it’s as difficult as I remember.

how to have godly thoughts

While getting our skin inside of Spanx can be a daunting task, containing our thoughts so they are pleasing to God can be an even greater battle.

Too often our plans to begin each day with Bible reading and prayer can be hijacked by stray thoughts and worries of all kinds. Our minds may further drift to all the “to dos” that cry out to be done. Even while we pray, our thoughts (or am I the only one?) can drift to places we never intended to visit. We may find ourselves planning our shopping list or our next blog before we say “amen.” We then catch ourselves and reel the thoughts back in, wondering how we managed to wander there in the first place.

As I read the Scriptures I am reminded of my need to prepare my mind for action instead of letting it just “flap in the breeze.” The old King James Version of 1 Peter 1:13 paints a vivid picture of one fighting to put a “spiritual girdle” around their brains. Our word for girdle comes from the root “gird.”

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:13–16 KJV)

The New International Version says:

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Colossians 3:1–2 gives us a similar charge:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.


Want more posts like this? Click here to sign up for the quarterly Lizzy Life newsletter, with more ideas for wrestling Christ into the chaos of daily life. You’ll receive a free download: Seven two-minute family devotions to do with your kids! 


I must determine to have a spiritual mind that thinks more and more like Jesus. This involves putting a “spiritual girdle” around my thoughts. This includes “setting” my mind and heart rather than allowing them to roam aimlessly and carelessly. Even when I do manage to get that girdle around my thoughts, the “muffin tops” of my mind can still try to spill out. When that happens, I must tuck them in once again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

If we begin each day spiritually preparing our minds for action and setting our minds on things above we will be available to be used by God—and will be much more keenly aware of his presence and power within us. This is only possible through Bible study, prayer, the power of God’s Spirit, and encouragement from spiritual relationships.

When we take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (as described in 2 Corinthians 10:5) we can overcome the fears, insecurities, doubts and sins that desire to creep into our thoughts. When we gird up our minds for action we will learn to live self-controlled and holy lives. When we set our minds on things above we can then be filled with a peace that passes human understanding, a purpose for which we are ready to live and die, a hope that doesn’t fade, and a joy that continually wells from within.

As you prepare for this day, don’t forget to put a spiritual girdle around your thoughts. Spanx your mind. God will be pleased that you did . . . and so will you.


Jeanie Shaw headshot

Jeanie Shaw has served in the full-time ministry for forty-two years, working alongside her husband, Wyndham. For eight years Jeanie served as a vice president of HOPE worldwide. She has taught workshops and classes on marriage, parenting, loss, and leadership in numerous countries. She has four grown children, seven grandchildren, and two dogs. Her books include Jacob’s Journey, My Morning Cup, Understanding Goose, There’s a Turkey at Your Door, Fruity Tunes and the Adventures of Rotten Apple, Prime Rib, Spiritual Leadership for Women, and An Aging Grace. Find her online at JeaniesJourneys.com, and on Facebook.


If you liked this post, you will also enjoy: 

Outshine the Dark

Marriage Advice from a Two-Year-Old

“I’m a Big Kid, No Wait I’m a Baby” Syndrome

Everything You Need for Lice and Godliness

Want to share this post? Thank you! Share here: