Although this post is inspired by and dedicated to my young friend, I offer it to anyone who struggles with chronic pain, migraine or otherwise.
One of the most deplorable things about chronic pain of any type is that it can begin to creep into your heart after a time, staining each bright new day with blotches of dreary brown and blunting the edges of enthusiasm until life seems to stretch out into one great, endless weariness.
That is the look I see in the back of your eyes these days. You’ve let the migraines become a part of who you are; accepting the pain and even defining yourself by it. My dear, believe me when I tell you this: that is a luxury you simply cannot afford.
Oh, I know it stinks. Sometimes, I think, it is important to remember that you are not alone. The triptans that are such a miracle for so many are barred to me as well. And like you, I have months that are better and months that are worse. Along the way, I’ve learned some tricks to reducing the headaches and others for simply coping with pain. Over time, I hope to share them with you.
But for today, I just want to address the darkness that now clouds your lovely blue eyes.
Will you believe me if I tell you that there are worse kinds of pain you can have besides the physical sort? It’s true. In many ways – ways that are better discussed in person on a nice long hike with fresh air in our lungs and sunlight filtering through the leaves – you are fortunate to have this particular struggle, even at your age. There are many worse things that could have happened.
While that may seem far-fetched, it is entirely true, and that is where I want to begin. Before we discuss some practical steps you can take to waging serious war against your migraines, really the first and most important battle you can undertake is the one against despair.
You simply cannot let the enemy of your soul win the field on that one.
Trust me if I say I know what I am talking about here. Physical pain has not been my only opponent on the battlefield, and so I have at least a year or two (or is that a decade or two?) of experience from which to pull. What I advise you today is pragmatic and workable, though it may seem foolish to you at first.
My challenge to you today is to praise God anyway – and not just today, but every single day this week, maybe even many times each day. All day long, if you must.
That’s the first step; that’s the challenge. Yet I do not leave you to build without tools. Interestingly enough, neither did God! One of the first steps in learning to praise God even in the midst of trials, hardship, and suffering is to understand that you are not alone in it.
Remember that He submitted to pain, Himself, and so He can and does understand. That is a small part of a great truth you can find in Hebrews 4:15-16:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
So grab a pen and a few note cards. This is a full-on homework assignment and one I suggest you take seriously. If you recall your most recent visit to my house, you will see that I am not speaking hypocritically. From long experience, I have simply learned that the most effective weapon in battling the darkness is the Sword of the Lord, which is the Word of God (see Ephesians 6:17).
When you cannot think of your own words of praise, borrow someone else’s! Sometimes, too, it is helpful to realize that the road of difficulty is not as lonely as the enemy would have you believe.
Not all at once, maybe, but over the next few days look up the following passages, write them on note cards or post-it notes, and stick them up wherever you are most likely to see them. Then stop and read them aloud as often as it takes.
- Psalm 8:1-4
- Psalm 16:5-8, 11
- Psalm 23
- Psalm 34:1-4
- Psalm 43:3-5
- Psalm 73:25-26
- Psalm 103:1-5
- Lamentations 3:17-26
- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
- Philippians 4:4, 6-8
And don’t forget, I could literally go on all day… but I thought we’d start with just a few. 😉
With great affection,
PS-Anyone else out there, feel free to chime in. What Scriptures help you to deal with black moods or times of difficulty?