The Gifts of Pain

For the last six months I have dealt with excruciating monthly periods, something I never experienced in my teenage years or adulthood. When it first happened, I had to be brought to the hospital, fearing that appendicitis was the cause. Edric took me to the ER at about 3 AM only discover that there was nothing wrong with me apart from the fact that I was probably dealing with extreme dysmenorrhea. After that month, the pain recurred and my personal research pointed to endometriosis. This was confirmed by doctors as well after two ultrasounds.

For those of you who suffer from the same, you know what it’s like to be bedridden and on painkillers to alleviate the feeling of one, never-ending contraction. The pain heightened to such severity last month that I threw up and felt like I might collapse.

As I have wrestled with this new reality, praying countless times for relief and healing, and being prayed over by others, God has taught me many lessons as the symptoms persists. I would like to call these the gifts of pain in my attempts to see its divine purpose. Of course, I still pray and hope for healing, but in the meantime, here are my reflections…

The gift of empathy. Since I was healthy for most of my life, there was only so much I could grasp about people’s physical pains or their dealings with debilitating conditions or sicknesses. Even today, my physical struggle isn’t likened to those who agonize on a daily basis in their fight against cancer or a life-threatening disease. (What strength these people must have to battle their pain day in and day out!) Yet my pain issues, the monthly ones and the random ones, do give me greater comprehension of how difficult it must be for those who suffer without relief. Now, I can sincerely tell people, “It must be so difficult for you. My heart goes out to you,” and really mean it!

The gift of humility. I consider myself to have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I birthed five children with no anesthesia. However, the discomfort I feel every month is so debilitating that I can’t attend to Edric or my kids, and fighting the pain exhausts me. Homeschooling happens on my bed, as the kids bring their books to my room and do their work around me. Eating and exercise have to be foregone, especially on my second and third days of menstruation. It’s humbling to know that I am not that strong after all. Whatever health, wellness, and physical abilities I have are the grace of God and nothing I can take credit for.

Last month, while groaning on my bed, trying to maneuver to a comfortable position without success, I eventually prayed out loud and said, “Thank you, Lord. You are my strength, you are here with me.”

When pain weakens me, it’s an opportunity to remember just how dependent I am on the Lord.

The gift of joy. Amazingly, God gives joy in the midst of pain. Although I get deeply frustrated about not being in control, and at times worry that there could be more serious things wrong with me, I fix my eyes on the Lord and the fears and discouragement dissipate. I do not have to make my joy dependent on my pain. As author and pastor Stephen Furtick said, “Will your chains break your praise or will your praise break your chains?”

This past week I was anxious because my daughter, Catalina, had five days of strange, fluctuating fever. It was gone in the mornings and returned in the afternoons and evenings. However, God spoke to my heart with this word, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

I started to tear as I read this passage because my thoughts were clouded with fear, and I was restless with worry. Yet, the Lord assured me that He is ever in control and ever on His throne, and there was joy.

I don’t rejoice in my problems because I like them, I rejoice because I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and has a plan for every circumstance in my life, as well as the lives of those whom I love. He may not always cure a disease but this doesn’t change His character or downgrade His power.

The gift of gratitude. When I first found out that I had adhesions in my pelvis as well as a suspected cyst-like structure in my right ovary due to Endometriosis, I felt discouraged and down. I try to be healthy, eat right, and exercise. I never had operations in my abdominal area to cause the adhesions. Furthermore, I really wanted to have another child, but the Endometriosis contributed to fertility issues. In the past, one try and it was like, boom, baby! Not this year for me…

Well, of course one of the obvious answers was age. The other, more medical reason was that I may have hormone imbalances (to be confirmed soon by a test I’m doing with Life Science). I will do another post about all the natural ways I am trying to “fix” my Endometriosis, but let me see if they work first!

Initially, I battled self-pity and a victim-mentality but then I was like, hey! There’s so much to be thankful for! I still get to walk, run, read, write, sing, eat, teach my children, spend time with my loved ones and friends, serve the Lord, appreciate and explore the world He made, and delight in knowing and loving Him. That’s a lot to celebrate!

The gift of perspective. In the midst of the pain I tell myself, this body will be replaced by a new and perfect one someday. I think of what heaven will be like when all agony and crying will be gone. This promise makes me look forward to eternity. It also prevents me from getting too comfortable on this earth. My body’s health problems point me to the hope of my eternal life with the Lord. They lesson the grip of this world on my heart as I remember that it is passing away.

“We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life…Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:2-4, 8

As I close, allow me to end with this insight…I did not choose my pain, but Jesus Christ willingly entered into your pain and my pain when He gave His life for us so that we might be healed of our greatest problem – the problem of sin. That’s our real disease. “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

When people ask me if I believe that God heals, my question is what is the healing that we seek? Is it merely to be liberated from physical pain? If that is the case, then isn’t that failing to understand the more important reason for Christ’s wounds? He gave His life “so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” as the passage explains above. Since our earthly existence is a dot in comparison to eternity, His priority is to heal our relationship with Him first. Mark 8:36, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

If we read verse 25, following 1 Peter 2:24, it says that we were straying like sheep (our real problem…turning away from our Creator) but now we have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (a picture of our spiritual healing, being reconciled to God).

So while I believe that God has the power to heal us from ailments and diseases and we should pray in faith for physical healing, I also believe that He may not always alleviate our physical suffering if it accomplishes a greater purpose in our lives and the lives of others, namely our spiritual healing and the spiritual healing of others. So here in lies the greatest gift of pain…when it reconciles us to God or draws us into a profoundly deeper relationship with Him.

I am still claiming healing in Jesus’ name for my Endometriosis and doing my part to make lifestyle changes. But even if God doesn’t make my life problem or pain-free, I still consider it a blessed life because He is my sustainer and provider. His grace and love never fail. His heart is for me and for my good. He is and will be with me through all the seasons of my life!

9 thoughts on “The Gifts of Pain

  1. Hi Joy! I, too have Endometriosis, Stage 4. I was diagnosed with having it last 2012, even lost my right ovary and right fallopian tube to iit. Severity of pain as symptom was as probably the same as yours. I normally have high tolerance in pain, but that exruciating kind of pain in my right abdomen was unforgettable. My husband and I, too, thought it was appendicitis, brought me to ER when I could no longer move because of the pain, until they had me on CTScan and saw a huge cyst on my right ovary. It was then when they finally opened me up during emergency surgery that my OB saw how complex my case was (my small intestines tied to my right fallopian tube that explains my severe constipation, my right ovary enveloped by a large cyst, and many other little cysts in my OBgyne area). They had no choice then but to let my husband sign a waiver to take out my right fallopian tube and right ovary, and so he did, and so did my doctors. We are blessed with 1 beautiful daughter year 2009, and we are trying so hard to give her a sibling. But after my operation and diagnosis of Endometriosis in the more severe kind in 2012, my husband and I learned to let things go, and entrust to the Lord my fertilitiy issues. We, together with our now-8yr old daughter, remain hopeful, still. Infact, my little girl, would write her that specific prayer request of being granted a baby brother or sister on the tithe/love gift envelope every after Sunday service. And that deep in my heart, I know God is working a miracle in me and my husband of having another child, as He is also working full time in our lives, teaching us to depend solely on Him, in all apects of our lives. Your blog on this is such an encouragement! Thank you, and know that we are praying for you, too! God bless, Joy!

  2. Praise God for your life, Joy! I also suffered through years of endometriosis in my teenage to law school days, got ovarian cysts and surprise! When I got pregnant, the condition subsided. But what helped me was going through a my OB’s recommended health regimen w/ Evening Primrose Oil, Emerita Progest-cream (from Healthy Options), lots of other natural supplements, being vegetarian (for just 5 years), Praise Moves workouts, and a pain journal to reflect and worship God amidst the health challenges. I’m praying for you to have good Christian sisters who will walk with you throughout this healing journey. God bless you!

  3. the gifts of pain? i don’t want to read it, it’s like seeing a grave where punishment is occuring, i feel fear and hasten to leave

  4. Hi Joy, I got married at the age of 28 years old. After 2 years of adjusting as a couple, we prayed to have a baby. At age 32, I had a blighted ovum and had a miscarriage. After much prayers, Andy had a varicocele. Later, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. If I want to have a baby, the fertility doctor at St. Luke’s said I should undergo a procedure to remove the endometriosis. I prayed a simple prayer to GOD, “LORD, if you want me to have this procedure, please provide the fund of P70k to 100k in 1998. But if not, please just heal me.” I was waiting for my menstruation before I go to another fertility doctor in Cardinal Santos. I felt dizzy and asked my husband to bring me to my Obgyne. I had a urine test and it was +. Andy and I just looked with amazement to GOD. HE didn’t provide the fund needed but HE healed me. So at age 36, I had Anika Elyana, it’s a Hebrew name which means “Graciously, my LORD answered my prayers.” I asked GOD for another baby, and HE gave me Elysha Anezka, it’s Hebrew and Czechoslovakia name which means “Consecrated to GOD graciously”. By GOD’S grace, they are now 18 and 16 years old. I believe GOD heals miraculously and we just really need to trust HIM with all our hearts and soul. Praying for GOD’S healing upon you, Joy T. Mendoza!

  5. Hello, Miss Joy! I’m mostly a lurker, but don’t want to pass up the opportunity to offer a tight cyber HUG. The pain of endo is something I truly won’t wish on anyone. While what I have is ‘baby endo?’ (adenomyosis, confined only to uterine wall), I could very well relate to the kind of pain you were describing. You mentioned that you’re trying out a natural way to fix it, I’d like to share my own attempt to fix it, perhaps it can help you or others as well. Hopefully, the link works.

  6. Hi Joy, Thanks for this post, it relieves me somehow as I have endometriosis as well, only that mine is not severely painful. I have cysts in my ovaries that needs to be taken out through surgery. Please share your take on “fixing” your endo 🙂 thanks for always sharing your inspiring life with us.

  7. Hi Joy! You probably don’t remember me, but we were classmates in Ateneo. It was a Physics class, I believe. I’ve had endometriosis since I was 13 or 14. I took pills, painkillers, had Lupron shots, and had 4 surgeries. They helped temporarily, but the endo would always come back. Along with the excruciating pain, of course. What finally helped me with the pain was acupuncture. Hope you’ll find what works for you!

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