Psalm 119 is a beast–it is 176 verses long and divided into 22 sections (one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet). So I’m going to divide it up, and write about my observations from each section, and see how each can help me continue to walk the road less traveled. Today, the “Zayin” section:
Eleven years ago, I had a kidney transplant. It was quite a surreal experience–waking up with all kinds of tubes coming out of me, the pain, and the pain killer… morphine. Out of a pump. Every six minutes. Nice. So nice that I don’t remember most of my hospital stay. Apparently I did and said some really crazy things that I would never have done without the influence of narcotics (well, as much as you can do in a hospital bed tied up to an IV, oxygen, and a catheter… apparently I showed everyone my catheter). They sent me home with a month’s supply of Percocet. More good stuff… except I only took one the entire month. Now, because of the meds I take to keep my body from rejecting my donor kidney, I can only take one kind of pain reliever–Tylenol (or generic Tylenol). Fortunately, I rarely have a need for it.
There are types of pain that meds cannot block. Physically, there is pain that even pain relievers cannot touch (we sometimes say we want something powerful enough to “take the edge off,” yet there are times when meds cannot do it). Emotional and mental pain may be numbed by antidepressants, but the root causes of the pain must still be dealt with. Spiritual pain–wondering if God is there or if He’s truly good during times of stress or tragedy–cannot be numbed with meds.
We will all go through times of emotional, mental, and spiritual pain. Look how the author of Psalm 119 deals with his pain in Psalm 119:49-50,
Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.
God’s revelation to us in Scripture reminds us that the pain of this life is temporary. It reminds us that if we set our hearts on following Him, that the pain of this life is actually momentary light affliction (even when it feels heavy) compared to what our eternal existence with Christ will be. We can look at Scripture and see the pain that people of faith suffered due to sinful choices and due to life throwing a curve at them. We can learn from how they dealt with it–either sinfully or righteously. We can extract principles to help us cope, deal with, and face the pain we’re going through. Should we need the help of a professional, we need to find someone who will not only listen, but speak Scriptural truth into our lives.
Most of all, we can look at Jesus through Scripture. On the cross, he suffered more pain than we can imagine. Physically, you and I will probably never feel the pain he felt from the horrific beating and the nails that held him to the cross. Spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, Jesus had to deal with becoming sin (which he never experienced), being separated from God, and feeling the full wrath of God. It is little wonder that his body gave out so quickly on the cross. But he did it for us so that we could find forgiveness, grace, and healing from our pain. Some of that healing may not be experienced in this life, and we don’t know why God doesn’t choose to heal in some cases in this life. Thus, the essence and the need for faith.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, how has Scripture provided pain relief for you?