You Are Not Your Pain

Something I wrote when I was ill, and something I reread every now and again as a reminder to focus on what God is saying, rather than my circumstances:

You are not your pain. The struggle, suffering, and grief are real, but they don’t get to become your identity.

The last thing I would ever want to do is diminish someone’s journey, or make the mistake of assuming everyone’s pain and recovery process are the same. They’re not. But if you keep looking at life through a wound—physical or emotional—it’s easy to get consumed in bitterness and self-pity, and drained of all your energy trying to protect yourself from getting hurt further.

In Mark 10, a blind beggar hears Jesus is near, and calls out to him. Jesus asks the blind man what he wants. That seems like either a dumb question or a cruel one. But it’s actually brilliant and merciful. Jesus knows what the man needs, but also knows the man really needs to hear himself say it. He’s been a beggar for years, maybe all his life. It’s his identity. It’s all he knows. To have his sight means the end of the only way he knows to live. But the question reveals to himself he truly wants a better one. He responds to Jesus, “Lord, I want to see.”

Jesus then says something amazing: “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” He didn’t say, “I make you well,” but “your faith.” The man’s belief there was a greater reality possible, and Jesus was the way to that reality, healed his sight. I don’t pretend to know everything about how that works, but I know he partnered with Jesus in his own healing. He agreed with Jesus’ view of his life, instead of going back to the security of how he’d thought for years, and how others had judged him. In choosing to trust God more than the familiarity of his pain, he climbed out of his hole forever.

Your turn.

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