You can find Bettie blogging from her home in a small town in Southeast Wisconsin. She is on a journey of walking forward with Jesus, in the middle of her own pain and weaknesses from multiple chronic illnesses. The beauty of nature is a joy that always calls to her, as well as the joy of her family and 7 young grandchildren. She and her husband have been married for over 40 years and take great joy in their weekend coffee breaks together.
I’ve heard that we can re-train our minds and deter some of our pain. This year, I would like to instill some “feel-good” scriptures in your minds to help fight against the drudgery of our invisible pain. I have asked fellow pain warriors to write a quick note of encouragement using scripture that helps them get through the pain. Here is the first one by my dear friend, Bettie Gilbert who has shared here on the blog before.
Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you for being so concerned for my health, and for asking how I am getting along.
Recently I was reminded of a Scripture Verse that confirmed what both my Physical Therapist and my Counselor had shared with me:
Did you know that the same areas of your brain that were triggered during a pleasant experience years ago, will be triggered again just by remembering it?
My counselor offered a beneficial practice for me then, on days when I am feeling low or depressed. She said that if I would look back and try to remember better days, and to even try to think about the specific details of a good experience, then those same areas in my brain would be triggered with “feel-good” chemicals now.
My physical therapist went a step further and said that studies have found a real benefit in pain therapy when a patient can remember a time of exertion, such as walking or working out, and slowly pace out the memory as if they are “walking” again in their mind. The right-left sensations trigger those same areas in your brain to produce those “feel-good” chemicals, and even can stimulate pain relief in some patients.
Walk the Halls of Memory
So, on days when you see me feeling particularly low about the days gone by and all that I cannot accomplish now, maybe we could join in a session of “therapy” and walk the halls of our memories together. Who knows, maybe your own “feel-good” chemicals might be given a boost as you share those pleasant memories also.
Isn’t the working of our human body and brain incredible?
Truly we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” as the Psalmist tells us:
“I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.”
I am praying for you my dear loved one, as you have reached out to me. May you feel so blessed by God as He pours His compassion through you.
Your loved one in Christ,
Thank you Bettie for reminding us of these feel-good scriptures. We can always depend on you to come through with great encouragements.
IT’S YOUR TURN!
Share an encouraging post on your feel-good scripture. It can be about getting through whatever you deal with… not just pain like Bettie and I..
I know! It’s strange to write these words [light and momentary] when talking about chronic pain. I have been in an R.A. flair most of the last year and have arrived at the place where I wonder just how much more I can take. Not that I want to end it all, but when I look at my young life and then look forward to my future, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
“Light and momentary” comes from the scriptures where the Apostle Paul shares that when we arrive in heaven this will all seem small and insignificant. (2 Corinthians 4:17) He shares that one of the purposes of our trials is that when we get through them we can encourage and comfort others who are experiencing the same type of pain.
So this year, I’d like to offer a series of interviews with chronic pain warriors. I would like us to all share and encourage one another so that we can “all patiently endure as we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:6)
And then though “we were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” Even when we expect that we will die, we will stop relying on ourselves and learn to rely only on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8,9)
Here is the first interview with my dear friend, Bettie Gilbert. Bettie struggles with “light and momentary pain” due to RA, fibromyalgia, and a host of other diagnoses. Keep reading to learn about her struggles and her faith.
Bettie, Thank you for sharing your story. You are always such an encouragement to me so I know this is going to encourage many others.
Share the short story of your chronic pain journey. Share some about the journey to this diagnosis.
In the late summer of 2014, I noticed that my fingers and thumb had some strange swelling and aching, but did not think anything about it until later that fall. I had been helping my neighbor garden and I woke up with my right hand locked up in a fiery pain that was unlike anything I had ever experienced. This happened three more times before my yearly physical in December of that year. My G.P. sent through the blood-work for Rheumatoid testing, and sure enough, 3 of the 4 markers came back positive for Rheumatoid Arthritis. They rushed me to the Rheumatologist the very next week, and I began this journey of chronic pain. A year later I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Osteoporosis. Then 3 years later I was also diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome and Occipital Neuralgia.
Throughout this time, how was your faith walk impacted? Did you lose faith? Get stronger?
I ran to God with my questions and my doubts. I didn’t have anywhere else to turn, because the doctors gave me very little information about what was happening with my body. But I am actually thankful for that because the Lord has become even more intimate and close to me than He was before my diagnosis.
Was there a specific event that became a turning point in your faith during this journey?
Early in my diagnosis, I found myself apologizing to everyone that I had gotten sick. It became such a constant response in me that one day I realized I had begun speaking that to the Lord also: “Jesus, I am so sorry I got sick. I am sorry I need Your help again. Forgive me for being so weak.” About a year into my diagnosis, I began to hear Him calling me, “Come to me, come inside (The Kingdom of God is within you.) I am already here, and I am not offended by your pain.” That whisper from the Lord began such a process of surrender and fellowship with the Lord that is continuing to grow to this day.
What scripture has become a comfort for you in this journey?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Cor. 12:9
How do you find comfort during these ‘ light and momentary’ painful days?
Listening to Christian music with a heating pad wrapped around my wrist and arm has become a calming time for me. Reading books is so helpful, and I am blessed to check out the resources of hope offered at the Chronic Joy Ministry Website too. Sometimes I watch silly You-tube videos when my mind is so foggy that I can’t keep track of anything. And on other days, when my pain level allows, writing and journaling help me to process what is happening inside of me. I try to begin every day by moving very slowly and taking the time to read Scriptures. Even if I can only read one verse, just to know that His Word is still my solid ground brings me such help.
What are some things that your family and friends do that bring comfort in your pain?
Calling to check on me, and offering to pray with and for me is a huge blessing for me. Receiving and sending note-cards in the mail has brought amazing blessings from God for me. When someone brings me a pot of soup, it feels like a gigantic gift! And my husband fills in so many things for me that I cannot do any longer. I am so grateful for each gift offered to me.
Are you participating in any ministries that encourage other chronic pain warriors?
Over the last year, I have joined with the team at Chronic Joy Ministry as their Volunteer Prayer Coordinator. I am so blessed to be able to pray for requests as they are shared at the Prayer Pond. I enjoy sending out #PenToPaper notes and emails in response to those prayer requests. I also write posts on Scriptures and Prayer there.
Offer some words of encouragement to those who may be searching for comfort in their own chronic pain journey.
Our Lord has told us that He would never leave us or forsake us. So I would encourage you to put that Scripture to the test. Cry out to Him, ask Him for His mercy on your darkest day. And when you pause to listen, He will meet you right there to bring encouragement. Keep your eyes open to watch for moments of His beauty. What seemed small in the past, during your busy days, will shine so much brighter now, bringing God’s grace to you.
Bettie, thank you so much for this encouragement. It will help many of us as we face these ‘ light and momentary ‘ struggles. A wonderful reminder that one day, we are promised ‘no more pain’ (Revelation 21:4)
Readers, I encourage you to join Bettie at Chronic Joy. Click here for her latest Prayer Prompt. You can also respond to Bettie here on the blog by commenting below.
Are you a Chronic Pain Warrior?
Would you be willing to share your faith story and encourage others? Contact Mandy for more details about an interview for this blog. See Guidelines Here
Throughout my years of reading the Scriptures, this verse has been one of my favorites. It has brought such comfort and joy in so many hard places. When night fell it seemed that the problems always loomed much larger in the dark than in the light of day. And as my heart ached with the weight of so many burdens, I held tightly to the promise that the Lord would bring the dawn of His light–the night of the trial could not last forever. And He did bring such peace to my heart as I watched the light dawning in so many of those dark, hard struggles.
The Hard Place of Chronic Illness
However, when chronic illness fell upon me several years ago, I found this verse taking on a literal meaning that hit me in a new way. The physical pains brought new tears in the evening. Every time I lay down, needing rest so deeply, the throbbing would heighten. Every time I finally drifted off to sleep, a jolt of fresh pain would awaken me. And the anxiety that accompanied so many of the medications brought nightmares and levels of pain that finally left me weeping before my Lord.
“How long will this night last, Lord Jesus? When will You bring the rescue?”
Finding Joy in the Morning
Finally, every morning, when the rising of the sun would finally light up my window, I could hear His words echoing in my heart:
“Rejoice, my child! We made it through one more night! My own heart is filled with joy to see you trusting Me even here.”
I could hear His words, and I could rejoice in the sunlight, but I could not rejoice at the coming night that I knew would fall again, all too soon. Recently though, He has been asking me to offer even that pain in the night up to Him as an offering. It has made little sense to me until I came across these Scriptures recently. Words that again, I have read so many times, suddenly jumped off the page for me:
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2 ESV
Jesus Feels Our Pain
Additionally, Jesus endured the cross, and suffered that shame for us, but why? For the JOY that was set before Him. He offered Himself, every pain and every burden that was taken for us, and He gave it all over to God, for the joy of bringing us to His Father. Could I offer my own pain in that same way? Could I see my own sleepless and pain-filled nights as a place of offering to Him?
“Oh Lord, how I long to be able to offer it all to you? But even that offering is too hard for me. I don’t know how I can do that.”
Into the midst of my tears, He brought His Words to me yet again. This time they were ancient words, uttered to God’s people who had been long at work, obeying the Lord to rebuild His dwelling place and the wall of protection around His city. And God had called them to celebrate their place with Him:
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10 ESV
Finding Joy in the Morning Through Jesus
Consequently, it was the very answer that He had been whispering to my heart every morning. It is the JOY of the LORD that will be my strength. I cannot strive to attain that. But He has already won it for me. He bore all that pain for me, and now He is the One who can show me how to offer my own pain back to Him again and again, every dark night.
And always, the morning of HIS light of Joy will dawn in my heart, because it is His gift, His fruit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
My favorite post was Karen Sebastian’s post. Karen was participating in the 30-day writing challenge. She wrote on the theme “How to Live 101 Wonderful Years” in celebration of her father. This post on Joy was a perfect segue into the November theme of joy.
As promised, here is the first letter; written by one of my dear fibro friends, Bettie Gilbert. I am sharing these letters to help you better understand what fibromyalgia is doing to us. I met Bettie through blogging. We were both writing about our chronic pain and we realized that we were on the same journey together, both of us having Rheumatoid Arthritis AND Fibromyalgia AND we both have roots in Ohio and Wisconsin, too! Isn’t that neat? Read her words here. Maybe they will help a little as you try to understand what is happening to us and how you can better relate. God Bless.
Hello, My Friend,
I am so thankful that you asked how I was doing the other day. You see, on many days it’s hard for me to get out, and I really do appreciate your concern. Sometimes when people look at me, it’s hard to tell that anything difficult is going on because much of the pain I feel is not outward. That’s the way with Fibromyalgia: it’s called one of the “invisible illnesses.” But my Rheumatologist has given me a real diagnosis, and the pain of Fibromyalgia Syndrome is often complex and hard to understand.
When I wake up in the morning, usually it’s a struggle to get out of bed. Even if I have slept, (but many nights I do not sleep well,) I still wake up dragging and feeling like I am walking through concrete. My Doctor has told me the term for that is “un-refreshing sleep,” and is common with Fibro patients. After I have my breakfast and my one cup of coffee that I allow myself, I might get a burst of energy and feel like I can finally catch up on some of my activities.
However, from past days in my life,
I know that I had better pace myself, or later on, I will pay for overextending myself with “post-exertional-malaise.” That’s the term for the over-exhaustion and pain that will likely hit fibro patients 24 to 48 hours after a time of physical exertion, or even heavy emotional stress. Because Fibromyalgia is a dysfunction of the nervous system that remains in a constant state of “fight or flight” the edge of that nervous system is usually quite close to the surface. It’s important to balance short times of activity with times of rest in between.
I have been trying to listen to my Doctor’s advice, to be more aware of my limits, and to be kind to my body during this season of chronic illness. So if I sometimes have to cancel our plans, maybe you can better understand where I am coming from. I don’t enjoy missing out on many of the ways that we used to connect. But I pray that we will find new ways to stay connected and that our friendship remains intact even through these many changes. Having the support of people who care for me is a blessing that I do not take for granted.
Reminder : I am a patient, not a doctor. What I am sharing comes largely from what my doctors taught me and some of what is discovered in my own research. The purpose of this series is to inform. I pray you will be informed enough to support friends with this syndrome or possibly acquire informed questions for your doctor. Please talk with your doctor or visit the Mayo Clinic website for official information, diagnosis, and treatment.
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