Pain in the Night: Why I am learning to be thankful for my fibromyalgia

  When I was little I started getting horrible pains that would keep me up at night. At first the doctors attributed it to growing pains and maybe at the time it was, however the pain never went away. As the years went by the pain increased and so did the restless nights struggling to sleep. After a while you become used to the constant ache as “normal.” It is like your body dulls down its pain awareness to cope. By the time I was a junior in high school they had finally diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. For those that are about to click over to google to figure out what that is—I’ll explain. For the most part it is still a mystery that the medical community is only now beginning to understand. It is often used to explain unexplained all over pain. Basically for whatever reason my nerves are super sensitive and always feel pain. This also mean that often what the average person sees as normal activity or exercise can be more painful for me. The most frustrating part is that I often feel the most pain after an activity which leaves me hesitant to participate in many sports or strenuous activities. However, gentle exercise actually helps, but getting started can be rough but once it becomes more of a routine I’m better. You see it is a struggle to find balance.  
          Now that you have better understanding of fibromyalgia I can tell you that I’m thankful for it. Well, I’m learning to be thankful for my struggle with it. It has taken me quite a few years to get to this point and I’m still working on continually being thankful. When I was in high school I was especially not thankful for the pain. I wasn’t following the Lord in my early years of high school and struggled with depression. The doctors and pretty much everyone in my life attributed the pain to my depression or that it was just in my head. I was mad at myself for not being able to just switch off the pain and live life. When I started following Christ again I then began pleading with Him to take it away.  I wanted to be as capable of serving Him as possible. I would cry to Him asking Him to take it away so that I could just be “normal” and serve Him. This went on for a couple of years until God started working through the pain. I was in college now and was struggling to adjust with getting up for classes after long restless nights. The mornings can often be the biggest struggle. I remember one conversation on the phone with my mom when I was crying because I was at my wits end with pain and no sleep. She told me that when she can’t sleep she sees that as perfect praying time. I had heard her say that before, but this time it clicked. I had been using that time for prayer. It was just prayer all about me and asking God to take away my pain.  
        I started taking those nights the battle between sleep and pain were fierce and used them for praying for others. I started with just a few lists of names and would sometimes go through those lists several times before I could actually fall asleep. Pretty soon my prayers expanded into more than just specific lists and became more of a dialogue. I had my lists so I could remember names and situations but I began to rely on them less. I began to see that God was always faithful to bring people or things to my mind to pray for. My prayers became more like conversations and even grew into more than just at night when I couldn’t sleep.

       I still kept praying for God to take my pain away. I still do pray for Him to heal me and take it away especially when I have a particularly rough night or morning. My overall attitude has shifted though. I used to see my pain as something that made me weak and therefore less able to serve Christ. I have come to realize that this is far from true. I may have specific challenges, but if anything it has strengthened me. For one thing it has pushed me closer in conversation with God. I have learned to rely on Him to get me through the day. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like no sleep due to pain followed by a rough morning with more pain, and knowing you have to go be a light and be ready to give answer for what you believe at any minute to cause you to rely on Christ to carry you. Even this morning I had to talk it out with God about carrying me and giving me an attitude of joy and perseverance. Which I’m saying isn’t easy when all you want to do is curl up in a ball under a massive amount of blankets and cry, but God is faithful.  

      What is often still the frustrating part is that I know God could heal me. I used to think I didn’t have enough faith and that was why I wasn’t healed, but I do have the faith. I 100% know that in an instant He could have the pain dissipate into non-existence. Yet, He has chosen not to. That is a hard thing to be okay with. I’m not alone in this struggle though. Paul even talks about how he had some sort of a struggle (thorn in the flesh) that he asked God to take away but God didn’t. “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 I have begun to see this pain (weakness) as strength because it keeps me relying on God and not my own strength. I cannot boast about what I have done because I so strongly know that every day and everything is because Christ carries me.

      If God never takes away my fibromyalgia until I get to heaven, I’m okay with that. Every day that my pain is less I’ll thank Him. Every day the pain is threatening to stop me dead in my tracks, I’ll let Him carry me and thank Him. Because, through it all Christ is molding me, carrying me, and using my struggles for His glory.  

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