Chronic Pain and the Temptation to Complain

In coping with chronic pain or any other difficult circumstance in life for that matter, it is quite common to fall into the trap of complaining. Complaining is often justified by thinking to oneself or stating out loud to another, “well, I just had to get that off my chest, now I feel much better.” The truth is that complaining doesn’t actually make you feel better nor does it improve your attitude or spiritual state. In fact, the opposite effects are often evident. Late last year, I wrote a post on venting. Venting and complaining are related behaviors that may seem harmless but are in fact … [Read more...]

Friendship and Chronic Pain: A Precious Gift

The ancients understood that there are different forms of love  and different forms of friendship. For instance, Hippodamos the Pythagorean's description of friendship made such an impression on the ancient Christian writer Clement of Alexandria that the latter quoted his distinction among friendship approvingly in his own writings. Basically, the ancient philosopher distinguished between three kinds of friendship “That founded on knowledge of the gods, that founded on the gifts of men, and that on the pleasures of animals” (Stromata, book 2, chapter 19). Obviously for the Christian, the most … [Read more...]

Acceptance as an Intervention for Chronic Pain

In reflecting upon the importance of acceptance in the context of dealing with chronic pain, some may mistakenly believe that acceptance means giving up or giving in to the pain and to negative thoughts such as “I can’t do anything” or “My life is over.” Real acceptance, however, doesn’t mean giving up. On the contrary, acceptance means living in the present moment and experiencing the present moment, instead of reacting to it and being controlled by it. From this non-reactive stance, it becomes easier to determine which factors concerning chronic pain are within your sphere of control and … [Read more...]

The Problem of Feelings of Anger and Depression in Those Suffering from Chronic Pain

While Saint Paul in his letter to the Ephesians reminds us never let the sun go down on your anger, this exhortation is especially challenging for those who suffer with chronic pain.  The inability to find relief or perform the daily tasks to which you are accustomed can lead to feelings of frustration, helplessness, and futility.  If these feelings are not acknowledged and dealt with in a healthy fashion through some of the interventions I’ve mentioned in previous chronic pain posts, anger and depression may result.  Anger and depression are powerful negative factors that severely limit your … [Read more...]

Chronic Pain, Relaxation Training, and a Place of Rest

We know from the psalms that believers should “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7) and that our “flesh shall rest in hope” (Psalm 16:9). Even more emphatically, the children of Israel, who were instructed to find a resting place for the ark, were given among the basic moral commandments, another spiritual one, “but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.” They were to desist from their normal activities and daily work, in order to find the God of their heart through another way of being in the world, characterized by an active rest oriented towards God. Those who suffer from … [Read more...]

Coping with Chronic Pain: Exercising the Body and Training the Soul

Those suffering chronic pain often feel as though whatever they do seems to only make their condition worse and so conclude that it is better to just give up and do nothing. This understandable tactic, however, narrows not only their movement, but also their lives and their possibilities. An ancient Christian writer, Minucius Felix, once wrote, “Fortitude is strengthened by infirmities, and calamity is very often the discipline of virtue; in addition, strength both of mind and of body grows sluggish without the exercise of labor. Therefore all your mighty men whom you announce as an example … [Read more...]

Chronic Pain and Setting the Right Kind of Goals

Disclaimer:  Acute pain may be defined as intense pain of recent onset that usually diminishes and disappears when healing has taken place.  Acute pain is a symptom of some underlying disease or injury.  Chronic pain is that which is ongoing and defies simple causal analysis.  It may be diagnosed in general terms and defies mere biological factors or pharmaceutical therapies.  Chronic pain will be the subject of this blog series. When forced to confront difficulties or painful situations in life, it is often most helpful to use our God-given minds in order to evaluate our current state of … [Read more...]

Thoughts, Feelings, and Chronic Pain

Have you ever noticed that when someone has done or said something unkind to you, that if you brood on it, the words or actions start to seem a lot worse? But not only do the words and actions begin to seem much worse than when you were first encountered them, you also start to feel a whole lot worse as well. Your initial injury or sting from the insult is now compounded by your own feelings of anger or sadness. This is all part of the mystery and gift of being human, we think, we feel, and we create our own inner worlds out of our thoughts and feelings. Saints create flexible, beautiful inner … [Read more...]

The Social and Physical Aspects of Chronic Pain

Christianity undeniably affirms the physical, material aspect of life, for could there possibly be a greater affirmation than the fact that God Himself became an incarnate physical, material human being? Christianity likewise affirms that we are all related to each other as children of single Creator, as our brother’s and sister’s keeper, and members of one another. To deny the physical and the social aspects of reality is to deny the very aspects of reality through which we are to be saved. Hence not only from a holistic approach to chronic pain, but also from a Christian vantage-point, the … [Read more...]

A Holistic Approach to Chronic Pain

Disclaimer:  Acute pain may be defined as intense pain of recent onset that usually diminishes and disappears when healing has taken place.  Acute pain is a symptom of some underlying disease or injury.  Chronic pain is that which is ongoing and defies simple causal analysis.  It may be diagnosed in general terms and defies mere biological factors or pharmaceutical therapies.  Chronic pain will be the subject of this blog series. Medicine concentrates on the physiochemical causes of illness in which a given complaint is explained within a theoretical framework that has room for pathways of … [Read more...]