By Claudette Palatsky
It’s not a pretty story all wrapped up neatly, bow nestled nicely on top. Well, maybe it looked like that on the outside—we chronic pain sufferers understand that, “Oh, you look so good.” Looks, though, can be deceiving; appearances misleading, right? Who knows what it took just for you to get out of bed, let alone out the door, so that someone could comment on how wonderful you look behind that grimace of pain they think is a smile.
You would think after more than 20 years of a right relationship with God, in service to Him, seeking Jesus, and loving His Word, that my testimony would be beautiful. So, what a shock to the friend who found me passed out, a bit of vomit on my chest, pasty, and barely breathing.
And then I made a choice
Three days in a coma-like state, almost 2 weeks in the critical care unit, and I won’t speak about the mental ward that followed that!
What a scandal that I had attempted to end my life, to commit suicide. My life? Oh, that is where I took a wrong turn. How dangerous/damaging self-reliance is. I ran off the rails and right onto the gravel road of what A.W. Tozer named“self-sins” (self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love, and a host of others like them). I became lost in the self-examination of what I was or wasn’t doing (and the consequent guilt/pride) and looking for results from my own behavior instead of what I already had and what was already done for me, in Christ!
I forgot Jesus paid a price
I lost sight of the fact that I was bought with a price and I was not my own. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Along the way I began to listen intently to Satan’s lies. He lulled me to sleep at night with self-loathing and enthused my to-do list with things I couldn’t possibly accomplish. Many who have invisible illnesses know the angst of feeling defeated before even getting out of bed! We lament our limitations and document our failures and dashed dreams on sticky notes that we place all over our self worth.
We Christians in chronic pain, often lose sight of who we are in Christ and the fact that our value is in Him—we are complete in Christ, regardless of our confines.
A time to heal
I’ve been spiritually resurrected during this healing season, only 4 months after I tried to take a life that wasn’t mine to take. (A year ago now.) A friend introduced me to gospel-centered, grace transforming messages that have me preaching the gospel to myself everyday and learning that the Gospel is not just the power of God for salvation, but the Good News I need on a daily basis!
It is all about Jesus, not me. It is His strength, not mine–being perfected in my weakness. It is, in fact, the finished work of the cross of Christ that has me in its grip. There is so much freedom here. I don’t earn more of God’s love, favor, or acceptance through what I do for Him.
With wonder I am seeing Jesus in the right light and the Holy Spirit is gently leading me into all truth. My flesh wants the recognition and glory and always will till the day I die. But my face is turned upward, and my eyes are on my Lord. I acknowledge Him in all my ways, rather than leaning on my own under standing. We both know there is nothing good in me, except Him. And so where sin abounds, grace abounds much more (Romans 5:20).
My mind staying on Jesus–and not myself–will give me perfect peace. It will give you peace in your pain too. Our times are in His hands (Ps.31:15) and we belong to Him, redeemed by His blood, and in His keeping until, in His timing and way, we will be in His Grace and Glory, fully.
More than 12 spinal surgeries to date, Claudette Palatsky lives with daily pain. She wrote a book called THINK IT NOT STRANGE, available at the Rest Ministries bookstore, to help fellow-sufferers and those who care for them. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. She has spoken at women’s retreats and teas with a message of hope for those who have visited the depths of despair, as she has. Her life is hidden with Christ in God, and she looks forward to that place of no more pain, tears or sorrow, but until that day. . . she lives with her husband of 23 years, in California.