Chronic Pain: ‘They Also Serve Who Only Stand And Wait’
This article is about chronic pain — pain that hangs around the sufferer like an obnoxious intruder that doesn’t know when he is not wanted. Chronic pain has a variety of different causes. Sometimes it is called cancer, although there are thousands of other physical and mental maladies that can be at the root of the problem. Chronic pain can surround and penetrate one’s entire body. It saps his physical, emotional, and spiritual strength like a dry sponge that can never be saturated, no matter how much liquid is provided for its thirsty appetite. There is never a respite from chronic pain. It is ever present, hounding us during the day and throughout the night.
Chronic pain can keep one internally focused — self-centered or self-absorbed we might say. The sufferer can be constantly thinking about the state of his health. His thoughts can become dominated by the desire for even the slightest relief, a sign that the pain may abate or stop altogether. The sufferer yearns for the day that he can come back to the world and become involved in the events of everyday living. He hopes that he once again can become connected with healthy family and friends, who bring him warmth and encouragement, assuring him that he will get better.
But this may be the rub for the chronic pain sufferer. Deep down inside, he may have lost confidence that his life will ever return to a normal state. He fears that more unremitting pain may be just over the horizon. If one pain abates, it is quickly replaced by another. How many times can you get knocked down and still get up off of the canvas? he asks. The “pile on” of one repeated illness falling on top of the other may have been a consistent pattern. Why should this change now, or ever for that matter? Doubt and anxiety can plague him every step of the way. And then there is death, which he imagines as the grim reaper in a black robe who anxiously waits to escort him to the final judgment. This is what he fears most. Yet nobody talks about this. It stays locked up within him, bursting at the seams, seeking at least one other person to whom he can really express how he feels. All hope can become easily crushed when one’s psyche is caught in this whirlpool of mental and emotional confusion.
When one is in chronic pain, graciously interacting with others can be a major difficulty. They ask how you are feeling, and the sufferer’s standard answer is “good,” even though deep down he feels miserable. Pretending that he is in good spirits and acting as though he is interested in worldly endeavors is difficult when he feels isolated from the human race. But who wants to be viewed as a deadbeat to those people who are trying to cheer you up? So he puts on a façade, making believe that he, too, is optimistic, although he really feels frightened, exhausted, and irritated about the course his life has taken. Smiling, asking and answering simple questions, and making small talk is harder than anyone can imagine when his insides are screaming for relief and wishing that Christ would miraculously take this cross off of his shoulder.
In the sea of people surrounding him, what the sufferer longs for most is human compassion, true understanding, and genuine support in confronting this long and lonely battle. The search for these qualities in those around him can be a most difficult one.
Healthy people say that they understand. They mean well and sincerely believe that this is so. But if one is a patient in a hospital or nursing home, when the visiting hours end, they leave the facility in which one has been placed. Many breathe a deep sigh of relief as they exit the premises. It can be emotionally exhausting watching someone suffer. It makes them aware of how vulnerable they are and they are momentarily thankful that God hasn’t willed this upon them.
For those who leave, this ordeal is over, at least for now. They go home and continue to engage in the ordinary functional activities of life — activities which are easily and effortlessly performed — activities in which chronic pain doesn’t interfere with every thought and movement of daily living. For the ordinary person tying one’s shoes, brushing one’s teeth, toileting and showering, and feeding one’s self are performed automatically. No forethought or planning is required. For the chronic pain sufferer, however, these simple tasks can be a major undertaking requiring help from a care-taker and the use of mechanical devices just so that he can put on his socks and shoes and tie them. Washing, drying, toileting, eating, and moving or hobbling from point A to point B are exhausting, especially if he is making the effort to do these independently — especially if he’s still fighting to get better so that he can rejoin the human race.
This is chronic pain. It has a beginning but no ending, always leaving the sufferer in an uncertain state. For even the strongest of people chronic pain can rob the sufferer of his dignity and drag him down into a despairing state. For the sufferer, the days are long, challenging, and lonesome, despite being surrounded by upbeat, supportive people. Professional caregivers, family, and friends try to be sympathetic. But many of them are unable to fully understand what it is like to walk in his shoes, forcing himself to engage in simple functional tasks that HURT LIKE HELL when he tries to do them. But force himself, he must. The only alternative, otherwise, is to spend the day sitting in a wheelchair with his head down, dozing and sleeping, slipping further and further away from life, waiting for God to put an end to his suffering.
HURT LIKE HELL is a three word description connecting how the sufferer feels and the final destination Satan intends for those whom he can lure into despair. The absence of pain is the ordinary state for the large majority of people. They may experience stiffness, throbbing, stabbing sensations, and minor aches from time to time, but these can be ameliorated by applying homemade remedies (ice pack or a heating pad) and taking over the counter and prescription medications. While they experience some discomfort, this generally doesn’t interfere with their ability to be congenial and independently to perform their daily activities. Even most old people escape the kind of ravaging chronic pain, which knocks one out of the box and forces him onto the sidelines. Why me? the sufferer asks. What did I do to deserve such punishment? These thoughts can easily lead to envy of the more fortunate and even those whom Christ called “evildoers,” who prosper. An intense and constant self-pity, believing that one has been singled out unfairly by a mean spirited God, who arbitrarily has stuck him “with the short-end of the stick” soon follows. The sufferer’s self-pity, frustration, anger, and deep resentment only intensifies when his prayers for relief go repeatedly unanswered, believing that this is further evidence that God has abandoned him.
It is at these times, when one is in a weakened spiritual condition, that “Old Scratch” can tempt him to throw his rosary beads aside, blaspheme, and cast the gift of life into the wind, wishing that he had never been born. Make no mistake about it! The Devil, at these moments, is engaging in a major frontal attack to get the chronic pain sufferer to renounce Christ and His Church — urging him to loudly and angrily proclaim that he will not serve Him any longer. As one can see, unless the sufferer has a plan in which he can utilize the redemptive value of suffering for his salvation and the salvation of the souls of others, hell could easily become his fate.
Facing one’s own decline and still maintaining one’s Faith in God and His mercy can be a tough and lonely battle. Making sense out of what the Master of Deceit tries to present as being senseless is of paramount importance in order to prevent one’s self destruction and the damnation of one’s own soul. To those who suffer with chronic pain, I would like to offer the following poem (Sonnet XV1 On his Blindness) by John Milton, which brings clarity and purpose to this struggle during the most trying times:
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my master, and present
My true account, lest he, returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask; but Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best; his state
Is kingly-thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.
As this poem points out, the loss of one’s human powers, which reduces one to a totally dependent, immobile state does not mean that one cannot nobly serve God. On the contrary. It is those who only stand and wait — those “who best bear His mild yoke who serve Him best.” How can this be so? the sufferer asks. How can one be reduced to an immobile, miserable, and demeaning state, please God and serve Him. By example! is the answer. The acceptance of God’s will and continuing to serve Him faithfully creates a peace that radiates within the sufferer’s soul. This peace and inner radiance is not lost on others who witness his suffering and the practicing of his Catholic Faith in overcoming Satan’s temptation to despair. It is these willful sufferers — those who are patient in these times of trial, who give glory to God and are most pleasing to Him. By their example, they draw others closer to God and His love for mankind.
The morning can be particularly loathsome for the chronic pain sufferer. Knowing that another unpleasant day awaits him can be depressing to say the least. Unless one can craft a useful plan that gives purpose for the seemingly meaningless crosses, which he will be forced to carry, waking up and beginning the day can be a curse rather than a blessing. If the sufferer hasn’t given up on God and is still praying to Him, the Morning Offering can be particularly important in helping him to prepare for the battle that lays ahead. Through his suffering, he has the opportunity to gain the grace to combat the Prince of the World and to earn merit for himself and his loved ones by saying the following words: “Behold, O Lord, I offer you my whole being and in particular all my thoughts, words, and actions, together with such crosses and contradictions as I may meet with in the course of this day. Give them, O Lord, Your blessing; may your divine Love animate them and may they tend to the greater honor and glory of your Sovereign Majesty. Amen.”
As difficult as this is, especially when one is in pain, it is important for him to keep in mind that his suffering has a redemptive quality if he asks God to make this so. It can be offered as “payback” for his sins and the sins of his loved ones. The greater the suffering, the greater the expiatory value for those “who only stand and wait.” God, in His infinite justice and mercy, will reward them and grant much mercy on the ones for whom they pray most generously. Those friends and family, who are languishing in purgatory, counting on his prayers, will be particularly grateful for his suffering, which is offered up for their speedy salvation. In today’s sentimental churches in which purgatory is ignored at funeral Masses and an “everybody goes straight to heaven”mentality prevails, praying for one’s loved ones through one’s suffering is needed more than ever.
While crafting and putting a spiritual plan into practice is of the utmost importance, there are pitfalls which the sufferer is bound to encounter. Unless he is intellectually and emotionally prepared, the resolve to face and overcome these can quickly evaporate. For those sufferers whose disability and chronic pain have reduced them to a state in which they can “only stand and wait,” it is imperative to try to keep in mind that the acceptance and graceful carrying of God’s cross is what is most pleasing to Him. This is easy to keep in the forefront of one’s thoughts when one’s body is in a calm or quiet state. However, when one is languishing in pain, such noble thinking becomes muddled and his senses scream for relief. The sufferer can pray incessantly, but these prayers may seem never to get answered. Anxiety, depression, and frustration can fill his days. Hence, crafting a plan so that the sufferer’s life has purpose is essential for his emotional and spiritual survival.
There is another significant pitfall of which the sufferer must be aware. It is important to realize that there will never be enough human compassion to fill the void now facing him. In fact, the seeming insensitivity of other people to his suffering can become a major source of irritation in his relationships with them. Can’t they see that I am suffering without having to hear me tell them that I am in pain? he asks. Are they so hard-headed that they are unable to see that I need help without having to ask for it? Their apparent lack of empathy can be particularly annoying, especially if they are family and friends with whom he has spent most of his life.
Another unpleasant reality with which the sufferer must come to grips is that even some caregivers, who are trained professionals, fall far short in their ability to empathize. To the chronic pain sufferer this hardly makes sense. Almost anyone can be sympathetic, can’t they? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “No.” People have varying degrees of sensitivity. Some can instinctively anticipate the sufferer’s needs. They don’t have to be told that he is in pain. They sense this and respond accordingly to remediate his suffering. Why more caregivers are not this proficient is a sad fact. Like every other profession, some persons are just more skilled than others. The sufferer must learn to accept this if he wishes to merit in grace. The failure to do so will only increase his irritation and create strained relationships. Better that one accept his limitations and behave cordially toward them — a test of charity to be sure and the only road to inner peace. If one has chronic pain, in his battle with it, he will discover that despite their best efforts, his family, friends, and caregivers are not saints. And for those sufferers who take their Catholicity seriously, this also can be profoundly disappointing. Chronic pain forces them to see themselves as they really are — frail and weak human beings, far removed from those saintly stalwarts of the Faith who carried their crosses in heroic fashion.
So what is the answer for chronic pain sufferers who may “only stand and wait”? There is only one answer that makes sense — Faith in Christ who promised that “ Behold, I am with you all days.” Trust that He keeps His promises and that He is always with us in times of joy and sorrow, particularly in the latter. Trust that, if one is faithful to Him, He will provide him, not with comfort necessarily, but the strength to set good example — to endure in the face of adversity, to graciously smile when he is filled with sadness, to perform simple acts of charity, and to encourage and speak kindly to those around him. And trust that, if he is patient that the Holy Ghost will infuse into his heart the grace to understand and carry out His plan as He intended. Only this will take away the frustration, resentment, sadness, and self-centeredness, which could be dominating his life of pain. Only this can lead to a true love of the Savior and bring about the fortitude, calmness, and inner peace, which will lead to his salvation and earn grace for the souls of those for whom he prays. This is the stuff of which saints are made.
Millions of human beings, young and old alike suffer with maladies, which if left unchecked, can lead and have led to the promotion of euthanasia and assisted suicide. For the chronic sufferer, who is atheistic, lacks faith in a benevolent God, and fails to recognize the value of suffering, euthanasia and the direct taking of one’s own life could easily appear to be viable “here and now” alternatives to living a life filled with pain that never ceases. “What difference does it make if I take my life? the atheistic-minded sufferer asks. “At least it will end this needless pain. Beside it is my life and I have the right to choose when I wish to end it. If there is an all merciful God, He certainly would understand this. As far as hell is concerned, that’s a figment of the old Catholic Church’s imagination. A good God would hardly send His creatures to a place like this, especially when they have already suffered so greatly.” Such questions and thoughts are bound to cross through the mind of the chronic pain sufferer who has no faith. Unchallenged thinking of this nature is fertile ground in which Satan can lead the person to despair.
A Catholic believer, however, will constantly try to engage his mind in silent prayer, perform simple acts of charity, set good example, and remember to offer his present suffering for his sins and for his loved ones who may be languishing in purgatory. However, graciously accepting God’s plan and trusting in His benevolence is a tough pill to swallow, particularly when one is in a weakened condition. It is at these moments that the Devil will be bending one’s ear about the uselessness of pain and God’s mean-spirited unwillingness to take this cross away when He obviously has the power to do so.
For the chronic sufferer, it is important to remember that the Devil is called a master of deceit and the Father of Lies for good reasons. The clever manipulation of language, the concoction of half-truths, intentionally omitting important information, and the use of exaggeration and grandiosity are skillfully employed by the Deceiver to make falsity appear as truth. Isn’t this how he lured the unsuspecting Eve into eating the forbidden fruit from the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?” Keep in mind that if one suffers with chronic pain, the Father of Lies will spin a yarn, especially designed to lure him away from God and into his clutches. He will pretend to be his advocate, and make it appear that God has abandoned him.
“How might Satan try to lure me away from God?” the sufferer might ask. “What might he say about my chronic pain that could lead me to despair and arouse hatred within me for God and His Church?” There are a number of thoughts, which the Father of Lies will plant and nurture in one’s mind in order to weaken one’s resolve, to arouse indignation, and to give up the will to live. Some examples of these are as follows:
1. First and foremost, Satan will try to convince the victim that he is a burden to family, friends, and those persons who are responsible for his care. Because he is are unable to function independently, the devil will suggest to him that he is a drain on their time, money, and resources. Most people take pride in being able to independently care for themselves and solve life’s problems. They can easily feel worthless when they are unable to do so. Thinking and ruminating about such thoughts can only lead to self-hatred and despair.
2. The chronic maladies, which cause the suffering, can be inflicted on the victim despite the fact that he had lived a moral and upright life and practiced good health habits. Satan will point this out, focusing on its unfairness. He will especially draw the sufferer’s attention to those who engage in wrongdoing and eat, smoke, and drink to excess, yet they have no major health problems and are prosperous. The rumination of such thoughts not only can lead to envy, but hatred, and wishing ill-will on others who are more fortunate than him. Anger, cynicism, feelings of being cheated, and self-pity are the only rewards of such thinking.
3. None of us had any choice about being born into this world. Moreover, the chronic pain that plagues one throughout the day and night may also have been inflicted upon him, not from any abuse of bad habits. Satan will emphasize these facts, pointing out that had the chronic pain sufferer known that his life was to be filled with such misery, he might have chosen not to be born. Satan will raise the question: “Shouldn’t the sufferer, who is the victim, have had the right to make that choice?” If the answer is “Yes,”, then rebellion fueled by feelings of intense anger are bound to dominate the chronic pain sufferer’s thinking. This certainly would be most pleasing to Satan.
4. Satan will taunt him about the futility of prayers, in which he has been asking God to relieve him of his suffering. He may even point out that miracles have occurred in many holy places such as Lourdes and Fatima, and occasionally people are cured there. He knows that the vast majority of people who pray for cures and even travel to the sites where these miracles have occurred leave with no changes in their bodily condition. “Why should this be any different for me? he may ask. “To continue praying to an unfeeling God is pointless.” Such thinking will lead to feelings of hopelessness, which fuels despair and and the will to live.
5. Satan will continue to remind the sufferer that the majority of people, even the elderly, are healthy and are able to independently care for themselves. He will point to those people, much older than he, who can still play tennis, travel, and engage in other physical and social activities. He will suggest that his weakened condition and dependence on others means that he is inferior and of much less value than those who are active, productive, and involved with family, friends, and in the community. Such thinking, if unchecked, will lead to self-pity, strong feelings of discontent, and envy.
6. The unfairness of life and the fact that he has been given “the short end of the stick” in comparison to others is an ongoing theme that Satan will plummet him with every day. If this thinking goes unchallenged, the victim can easily become surly, rude, and intolerant of friends, family, and caregivers who are healthy and act cheerfully in their interactions with him. “Are they so stupid that they can’t see that I am in pain?” he will ask himself. “Can’t they understand that I am suffering unfairly? How can they act so upbeat when I am, through no fault of my own, so miserable?” Although he may not complain or chastise them openly, the person in such pain by his non-verbal behavior will convey that he perceives them as being unsympathetic and that he would prefer to be left alone. Such thinking will draw one away from family, friends, and those who care for him. He will feel isolated, alone, and unloved.
7. As previously emphasized, offering one’s suffering for the redemption of one’s sins and for those in purgatory can be a powerful motivator for nobly carrying the cross, which Christ has placed on one’s shoulders. Loved ones, who have passed away from this life and are in purgatory, can no longer merit, or reduce themselves the time of their purification. The acceptance and carrying of the chronic pain cross and offering this for their loved ones’ speedy entry into heaven can significantly alter their sentence, bringing them closer to God and heaven. For this, they will be eternally grateful.
While this goal is a noble one, however, expect that Satan may try to put it into the head of the sufferer that this is the twenty-first century, not the middle ages when people believed that purgatory really existed. Only foolish, ill-informed, and uneducated people would believe in such archaic nonsense. Satan will suggest that if one think otherwise, one should consider oneself a moron. His purpose is to make the victim feel stupid, discourage him from graciously carrying his cross manfully, and to crush his spiritual commitment to those deceased loved ones who are counting on him. Rather than be other-centered, he wants the afflicted to be self-centered, focusing on the needlessness of worldly suffering and how this has been unfairly inflicted. More bitterness, resentment, and self-pity is what he wishes to arouse within the sufferer.
Church, heaven, hell, limbo, purgatory, the eternity of the soul, and the final judgment are mocked, insulted, and ridiculed by the Deceiver. When one is suffering intensely and screaming for relief, Satan will attempt to increase one’s pain by suggesting to the victim questions such as, “Where is your God now that you need Him? If He is so merciful, why doesn’t He release you from this terrible pain?” It is during these times that one’s Faith will be tested to the utmost. If he can snatch away the Faith and break the person spiritually, he will leave the victim in a hopeless state. Then, perhaps, he could cleverly convince the weakened will to commit suicide and end it all. This is the ultimate deception.
8. Lastly, elderly chronic pain sufferers, who have been placed in nursing homes by their children, are prime targets for the Father of Lies, especially if they have been responsible and loving parents during their children’s formative and adult years. Elderly sufferers will be told by Satan that because they can no longer independently care for themselves, their children view them as a burden. If they really loved Dad and Mom, they would take them into their homes, rather than send them off to a “warehouse” in which strangers are paid to look out for their welfare. Satan will suggest to them how much they had done for their children in the past, and now when they are incapacitated, their dedication and sacrifices are given short shrift or ignored.
Nurturing thoughts of this nature will lead to marked resentment toward their children and possibly other extended family members as well. Moreover, the elderly sufferer will feel abandoned, isolated, and alone. The sufferer’s desire to live will weaken, especially if he or she feels estranged from those closest to them. Thoughts that their children really love their parents and have placed them in a nursing home out of necessity will be debunked by Satan. He will insist that the elderly sufferer has been discarded, fostering family discord, greater resentment, and the loss of all hope. Again, the tempting allure of euthanasia may try to gain an input.
In conclusion, suffering with chronic pain is a phenomenon that has and will continue throughout the course of human history. There are those who argue that we put down dogs, cats, horses, and other animals to relieve their pain. Yet we allow human beings to suffer needlessly, which in many cases only worsens with the passage of time. Why not extend the same privilege to our fellow brothers and sisters who are in chronic pain, especially those whose prolonged agony is unlikely to improve? Assisted suicide, they would insist, would be the most humane solution to this problem. “Death with dignity” would be their mantra.
If we are simply animals without an immortal soul, the proponents of the above proposals would have a good case. Life, in their view, would terminate at the point of their earthly death. And if they have no belief in an afterlife and a God who will exact a final judgment on how they lived their lives, this even strengthens the deception. It could then be further argued that chronic pain and the suffering associated with it is needless, especially if there is no Supreme Being and no afterlife in which one would be held accountable for their actions.
It is the spiritual component governing one’s life here on earth that gives meaning to human suffering. In a world filled with corruption, willingly carrying one’s cross can make restitution for his sins and those in purgatory who are relying on his prayers to help them. This point is particularly important in light of the fact that modern Catholics have become increasingly more presumptuous in their thinking. Because God is all-merciful, they fail to recognize that He is all-just as well. Hence, offering up one’s suffering for the final salvation of those souls in purgatory is more important than ever. Graciously carrying one’s cross with this purpose in mind will require that the sufferer try to behave like a saint. Some will say that this is impossible, but is it — especially when one’s loved ones who are no longer in the flesh are counting on him? Only the chronic pain sufferer can answer this question, and only he can muster up the faith and courage that would make this possible.
There is no other alternative unless one chooses to follow the path which Satan and his minions have crafted. One can put his trust in God or the “Prince of this World” and those unwitting fellow travelers who follow him. There is no “gray” area or point in between. As Christ said. “You are either with Me or against Me.” If one decides to follow God’s plan, the suffering that one must endure will be difficult but joyful.. It is this narrow road, not the wide one, which will lead the pious sufferer and, hopefully, those whom he has loved, into Paradise.
In the previous two sections, the importance of offering one’s suffering for the expiation of one’s sins and those of one’s loved ones, whether they are still in the flesh or in purgatory, was emphasized. This was presented as the only meritorious means for managing chronic pain. It provides the sufferer with an iron clad purpose for not just accepting the pain, but also serves as a powerful motivator for making good and prayerful use of the time God has allotted him. The suffering that is offered to God strengthens one spiritually for his battle in the “here and now.” Moreover, this offering, which he offers in the present life, lasts for eternity. In other words, the restitution for sin that he offers to God will last forever, long after his body has turned to dust..
The willful acceptance that the chronic pain sufferer offers to God should not be underrated. It provides the sufferer with the emotional and spiritual strength to not only tolerate the chronic pain, but it helps to override the bodily and sensual agony, which is likely to increase in its intensity, especially if Satan is harassing him while he is in a weakened state.
The preceding might be compared to an ad that was popular several decades ago when Father Edward Flanagan opened an orphanage in Omaha, Nebraska, called Boy’s Town, a facility for wayward and delinquent youth. The ad shows a priest and a boy who is carrying and exhausted younger lad on his back after a long journey to the orphanage. The priest comments on how heavy a burden that this must have been. The boy’s classic response, which is still remembered today was: “Oh, he’s not heavy Father; he’s my brother.” This is a fine example demonstrating how love, in the face of suffering, overrode any adversity or pain that this young carrier might have been experiencing. It also serves as a reminder that if one trusts in God and loves his family and friends—really loves them and cares about the salvation of their souls—this can lighten his burden and enable him to carry his cross with the diligence, purpose, and dignity that God intended.
In today’s anti-Christian climate, there are legions of people who would disagree and openly mock the notion that chronic pain and the suffering associated with it could be of any salvific value. Chronic pain sufferers “who only stand and wait” are viewed as “useless eaters” using up resources and space in our over-populated planet. Better that they be euthanized or assisted in committing suicide in order to solve this problem. If there was ever to be a utopia on this earth, these pundits would argue that man, not God, would create it. Moreover, they would point out that strong people, who are committed to a worldly cause, have within themselves those inner resources to remain productive despite being riddled with chronic pain. Strength of character combined with their unswerving dedication enables them to override their pain without God or any spiritual purpose that goes beyond the grave.
These so called learned experts who support the above have a point. There are those individuals, who despite their poor health, are able to work diligently and productively even though they experience chronic pain. Their dedication to a worldly cause can surmount their pain as they persist in their quest to build a utopia here on earth.
But in the end, they too will lose their human powers and become one of those “who only stand and wait.” Death will soon follow. No one escapes it. They will then stand before God facing their judgment. While they had the strength to work despite their suffering and ill-health, God will determine the value of their efforts. The world may honor them by constructing a statue, building, or memorial in their name. But what will this matter when they are held accountable for their suffering and the use that they have made of it? What will this matter when they are judged by an all-just God who will reward or punish them for eternity? It is the chronic pain sufferers who are required to carry the heaviest crosses. Therefore, addressing the preceding questions is of the utmost importance. The salvation of their soul and the souls of their loved ones and the course that they choose to follow will depend on it.
For those who suffer with chronic pain, one final point should be taken into consideration. The sorrow and lamentation that they experience in this world is only for a short time, in comparison to eternity. Christ points out that when our time for suffering has come, it is natural to be sad and fearful. However, if one endures and successfully copes with the pain as God intended for His holy purposes, the suffering will pass and great joy, which can never be taken from him will follow. Christ’s words were as follows: “Amen, amen, I say to you, that you shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman about to give birth has sorrow, because her hour has come. But when she has brought forth the child, she no longer remembers the anguish for her joy that a man is born into the world. And you (Christ’s disciples) therefore have sorrow now; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one shall take from you” (John 16: 18-22). For the chronic pain sufferer, the message is clear. If he carries his cross graciously for a little while, he will be rewarded with never ending joy for eternity. This is Christ’s promise, which must be kept in the forefront of one’s mind, especially when “Old Scratch” is telling us otherwise. Again, the salvation of one’s soul and, perhaps the souls of those he loves will depend on this.