On Physical Suffering

by Jeff on July 8, 2008

I am hands down the least qualified person on the planet to write about physical suffering.  I have 20/20 vision, perfect hearing, and a healthy, fit body.  I have unusually low blood pressure, have never broken a bone, and even had a very smooth, uneventful labor and delivery of our son.  I’m thankful for the health that I enjoy.

On Sunday Pastor Dale was talking about heaven and our new bodies.  He was explaining that for those of us who are relatively healthy, the idea of a new body, a heavenly perfect body, isn’t all that amazing. But the little paraplegic girl, the blind man, the deaf toddler, the aging elderly who are racked with aches and pains, for these the hope of a new body is real.  For some reason this stuck with me this week…

The only little glimpse I get of true physical suffering (it is a tiny glimpse), is what I experience during the first trimester of pregnancy–nausea, vomiting, and migraines.  I’m plagued with migraines on and off normally, but they are more frequent and more intense during early pregnancy.  Of course this is exacerbated by the nausea, and vomiting makes the headaches worse, etc. etc.  This is such a short period of time, but I’m realizing that these past few weeks, I’ve avoided my blog as much as possible, because I have nothing to say. I have no insights, I have nothing clever, interesting, and thought-provoking to contribute. I feel like all I can think about is my headache and not throwing up.  I know, I’m a wimp, but this little teeny dose of physical suffering has made me realize that I have no inkling how much physical suffering taxes and drains those who suffer. It’s not just an annoying pain–it’s energy sucking.  I feel frustrated because my brother and sister-in-law are here, and usually I would be Sally Hostess, and make all the meals (and love doing it!) and be bustling about doing things.  Now all I want to do is hide in my room and eat pizza and even glancing at dirty dishes makes me sick.  It’s so frustrating to be at my worst, especially when I so long to be at my best, to serve, help, be energetic, fun, and happy. 

So this has made me sit and realize that so many people, because of physical suffering, never get to feel at their best.  They have the desire to be energetic, hospitable, happy, joyful, helpful.  But because of their suffering they are restricted, held back, handicapped if you will.  I recently took a meal to a woman battling breast cancer.  She lives in huge beautiful home. How hard it must be to be too weak to clean your beautiful home. To be the one receiving all the meals when you’re the one used to fixing them for others.  How hard it must be to live in this state permanently.  To battle an illness, perhaps knowing that you can never be your best self again. I’m beginning to understand how important that grieving process would be.

Perhaps you think this is a bit heavy for me to be contemplating when it is only morning sickness that I’m dealing with. I know, you are right. My little teeny tiny suffering is small and short-lived.  But I guess it’s given me a little more understanding for the physical suffering that is so much more than physical.  The emotional, psychological struggles that eclipse our perspective, our insights, our inspirations. 

I’m such a newbe in this arena, I’m just asking God to help me to better understand those who truly suffer physically.  I pray that no matter how we suffer, it would not eclipse our perspective of who God is.  And for those alongside those who suffer, may we not offer pat answers, but truly love, truly care, and truly come alongside as a source of strength and hope.  And, while I’m praying, may my nausea and migraines end soon! Let it be. Amen.


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