Chronic pain – sometimes referred to as the ‘invisible illness’ – affects an estimated 16 million Canadians who live with at least one condition considered ‘chronic’ in that it is persistent or otherwise long-lasting in its effects.
Even with a growing recognition that lifestyle changes can prevent and/or eliminate many chronic illnesses, the use of drugs for pain is increasing at an alarming rate. Physicians are concerned with the scenario where painkillers can take over a persons’ life, yet not make them any better.
What would it be worth to those who are suffering – and to our health care costs – to have a solution to chronic pain that is not based on the latest diet, surgery, drug or vitamin? Priceless, we would all agree. Yet, would we explore it even if it defied our current, secular belief systems?
Dr. Harold Koenig, Director of Duke’s Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, researched and interviewed patients suffering from chronic pain. One patient (let’s call him Bob) brings up the point that people in pain are in many ways similar to alcoholics and drug addicts. In both scenarios something is threatening to take over the person’s life. To successfully get back in control of his life, Bob said he recognized that he could not do it himself. Turning to God was essential. His pain brought him closer to God ‘because no one really understands you like God does.’
Ancient, yet timely, the spiritual wisdom of the Bible offers some great examples of complete turnaround from chronic pain and disability to health and full freedom of movement. In one instance – a woman, hemorrhaging for years had the faith to enter a crowd and to reach out to touch just the hem of the robe of Jesus. She was instantly healed. In another, a man unable to walk for 38 years, was restored to full health.
Maybe we should be more open to the possibility that such complete turnarounds to healthy, functioning lives are possible to experience even today.
Consider this more modern day story (such as Bob’s) of Maria Martins. Maria had chronic pain for years and had been treating it with medication
for over a decade. When her attending doctor passed away and her medication was taken off the market, she, like Bob, decided that this extremity
was ‘God’s opportunity’ and decided it might be time to take a new approach to ending, rather than ‘managing’ the pain.
As a student of the Scriptures, she turned to the Bible to find a deeper understanding of God in her life. She also studied a book of spiritual insight based on the Bible, by Mary Baker Eddy, a nineteenth century health researcher and Christian author, herself healed of chronic ill-health.
Maria’s deeper, more spiritual approach to her health was one of turning thought to a new understanding of an infinite Spirit, a divine Love ever present in her life. Her growing insight was grounded in the authority of the Biblical guidance to focus on our divine heritage – one Source of all our health and well-being. Maria discovered that she could not be a material person subject to pain when her true heritage was one of health and freedom. A complete physical recovery came in a short period and she now lives a normal, active life.
Taking a more spiritual approach has allowed many people like Bob and Maria to successfully eliminate pain. A better understanding of the divine authority of health and harmony for each one of us is a path to freedom for anyone suffering with chronic pain.