Suffering is one of our greatest teachers. A life without suffering would be a life without growth. It is designed to help us stretch, call out for, and receive succor from the Lord. In that process, we become more refined and compassionate. However, when we get to a point where we have suffered long enough, (and that varies for everyone) and we are ready; we can choose to transcend it, and get our growth in higher ways. Last week I shared part one of this article, which is mainly concerned with the emotional aspect of suffering. Today, I want to continue where that article left off, to discuss ways to lessen physical suffering.
There is an old proverb that says, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” The mental elevation from which we view pain and suffering makes all the difference. What if you could use your aching back, heartburn or vertigo to draw you closer to God?
When we have a chronic symptom of pain, or some physical discomfort, our thoughts generally do something like this: “Oh shoot, I can feel a sore throat coming!” “Ouch, My stomach really hurts!” “Oh No, my head is throbbing again!” and then we get in our “poor me” mindset that we have on hand for each of these familiar occasions. We let our family and friends know so that and we can throw a “pity party” to get validation for our feelings. If you are ready to stop that pattern of suffering, consider the following:
How to Lift Ourselves Above Physical Suffering
Any symptom we have when we are tense, feels worse than the same symptom when we are relaxed. Only when we are relaxed, can we open up to spiritual realms, where we can get ultimate relief.
- ALLOW the symptoms of discomfort to BE!
Think of it as an entity and that it has a right to be here. Often, our first reaction to pain or discomfort is to try to resist it and push it away. Feel it, and allow it to be! This helps to take negativity away from the experience.
- DON’T COMPLAIN!
Joyce Meyer coined a wonderful truism, which states, “ WHEN YOU COMPLAIN, –YOU REMAIN!” We all know people when they are not feeling well that broadcast it to everyone they meet. “I feel SO terrible!” “My bum leg is really bothering me again!” “I think I’m catching a cold!” etc. Does that ever help them improve from their ailments, or are they just marinating in negativity? When we complain, do we ever lift others or ourselves with our adverse recitations? No! We generally REMAIN in our misery and often attract more and more symptoms to complain about. We become stuck in the vortex of self-pity. I’ve been there. Have you?
It takes conscious thought for those entrenched in complaining to stop. We have to decide if we’re willing to give up the “pay off” of complaining. It feels good emotionally to have someone say, “That’s too bad,” or look at you in sympathy. Are we willing to give that up?
If the symptoms are new, you may want to check it out with a doctor, but keep it tight-lipped. You have to decide how important it is to you to share each ache and pain with others. When you feel these symptoms, what if instead of complaining, you just quietly find a place to lie down, or say, “I need to rest a bit!”
Sometimes people ask us specifically how we are feeling. Don’t be the one to bring it up. If they ask, then tell them, but without complaining. Can you do it? (If your diagnosis is not good, you may ask family and loved ones to fast. That’s not complaining. That is asking for faith on your behalf. )
- RADICAL GRATITUDE!
The other side of the Meyer maxim is, “WHEN YOU PRAISE, YOU WILL BE RAISED!” What if, every time you experience pain or a negative physical symptom, it can serve to remind you to thank God for your blessings? Any blessing you think of will do. Instead of spiraling down into discouragement when your back sends out a shooting pain, you could have it serve as a reminder to “think UP!” Praise Him for all He is doing in your life. It’s amazing what this little choice can achieve!
When you truthfully say “thank you” to life and its pain, you no longer feel resentment towards or rejection from God for your condition, and you can feel yourself rise inside. When we give God thanks, no matter our feelings, He will give us Joy, no matter our situation!
We can have power over our situations. When we use physical or emotional pain as a REMINDER to “praise” and be grateful, we momentarily take our minds off our pain and at least our inner environment can be pleasant. Look for the beauty. Look for the blessings.
Our FOCUS Determines our Reality
Years ago, I suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome and was flat in bed for over a year. I was a mother of 4 little ones at the time, and didn’t have the energy to care for them. I was in a deep depression because I couldn’t do anything. Towards the end of the year I was led to read scriptures that “raised up on the page” and pierced me to the core. They all had to do with rejoicing, being of good cheer, and being thankful. I remember I wrote “Rejoice” on a piece of paper and attached it on my wall. I would get up in the morning feeling terrible, but after reminding myself to rejoice, I would begin to whistle. I smiled at everything, and became more pleasant, even though I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t rehearse my troubles and condition as much to others. Little by little, I noticed that I began to feel a bit better. I continued to “praise,” and after a few weeks of “raising” little by little, I was spontaneously healed. I learned first hand that negative, – thrusts downward, and that positive, – catapults upward.
Pain is Not Permanent
Pain is never permanent. Both physical and emotional pain come and go at intervals, but we can choose to let them REMIND us that we have the power to tie into light and raise up to joy. Pres. George Q. Cannon said, “Whenever darkness fills our minds, we may know that we are not possessed of the Spirit of God, and we must get rid of it. When we are filled with the Spirit of God, we are filled with joy, with peace and happiness no matter what our circumstances may be.” (Gospel Truth 1:19-20;)
What You Focus On Expands
What if instead of exclaiming in alarm, “What’s WRONG with me,” you say “What’s RIGHT with me?” Look for the things that are good. Your back may hurt, but what about your elbow? Your nose? Your toes? Focus on what part of you feels GOOD, and be thankful for that.
Our focus will take us up or down. Which do we choose? No one’s negative thoughts have ever helped them heal!
You may still feel the pain after “praising,” but when someone asks about how you feel, your spirit will be in a good place, and you will be able to truthfully state that you feel “thankful,” “joyful,” or even “fabulous!” If you are feeling joy, then you are NOT suffering! How will you choose to feel today?
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