My Spouse Is in Chronic Pain (Part I)
By Justin Talbert
She’d been perfectly healthy.
But quick as a gunshot, my bride began experiencing an incessant, peculiar, unrelievable pain.
Shin shocks, nerve flares, agonizing flurries in her spine, spinning in her head, aching in her stomach. All the time.
Her constant refrain: “This is so overwhelming.”
Only a year in, the pain has been unrelenting.
A dozen doctors (at least), a hundred types of supplements (at least), a thousand tears (at least), a million questions, doubts, and false hopes of sure-fire remedies (at least).
From John the Baptist to Elijah to Jesus Himself in Gethsemane, we know that even for the most mature disciple of Jesus, life gets dark.
As I asked my wife to reflect on her new normal, here’s the steel God has formed in her soul:
- However confusing, agonizing, and potentially depressing the day is, ask Jesus to reveal the task He has for you today. You matter to Him, to your family, and to this Kingdom. He is a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). For my wife, this task is often keeping a raw and honest journal—and watching our three boys.
- She has to be okay with a smaller to-do list. Laundry? Nope. Kids happy in bed? Yup. OK, good day.
- To well-intended people, she has to advocate for herself as a valued image-bearer of God. She’s not crazy. She doesn’t just need an aspirin, a nap, or the right smoothie.
- And since it’s not un-Christian to tend to yourself, I love to see her make healthy food choices, exercise regularly, take nightly detox baths, and snag her favorite tea from Starbucks.
- Scripture anchors her to what’s true when gales of fear sweep in. She’s found that her mind could morph into a battlefield of chronic fear and stress. I like when she asks me to do dishes so she can memorize another verse of Isaiah 43 (her current project).
Although every morning she and I wake to unknowns, we also wake knowing God has provided us new mercies. That God has provided us with Himself.
The Good Stuff: But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. (Job 23:10-11)
Action Points: What’s one way you can, together, form a healthy self-care plan for the spouse in pain? What anchoring Scriptures could you memorize together? What expectations need to be re-evaluated in your new normal?
Visit the FamilyLife® Website