I have lived in chronic pain for 6 years. There's a lot to share about those years, so this post could be longer, but for the sake of practicing brevity, I am leaving a lot out (feel free to ask questions).
When I was in high school, I incurred a spinal and pelvic injury that crippled my body to a small degree and my dreams to a large one. I had to give up my hopes of playing on a college drum line and later on found out I would be giving up a lot more life that normal 20-somethings live. The injury was partially reversible, but I was told I'd deal with it for the rest of my life. This resulted in a great deal of bitterness, frustration, and anger. I felt like I had lost a piece of my purpose.
I was saved by the Lord a little under a year after I was shown the first x-rays. My hardened heart changed, but I still wrestled with the idea of being healed - the when and if of it all. I questioned why the Lord hadn't fixed my bones yet more often than I'd like to admit (praise God for sanctification and spiritual maturation).
It is an invisible pain - most wouldn't know unless I told them what i dealt with, because my personality often covers it up. My heart and brain scream for activity while my body cries for rest. Since it is invisible, I found myself turning down many different missions opportunities, trips, and even athletic activities with friends. Sometimes I'd openly share with others, sometimes not; but all the time, I shut myself off to chances out of fear of worsening my injury and looking weak. I would often lie and tell people I hated exercising or being active (the reality is that I love it, but it's painful). In addition, I made very little effort to heal. I grew lazy and sulked in my hurt, and though many called me out on it, I usually let it float in one ear and out the other (oh thank you Lord for your grace!). The physical pain translated into emotional and mental; I grew depressed and developed anxiety in the midst of life's fleeting moments. I was very sick, both physically and spiritually.
It wasn't until about two and a half months ago that the Lord brought me out of that in an incredibly eye-opening way. I remember sitting on my bed one night, thinking about where my life seemed to be headed - and I hated it. It dawned on me I should not float through life without thriving because the Lord has called me higher than complacency. I made a decision to get over the pain - both physical and emotional. I want to hike, I want to run, I want to travel this gorgeous earth my God has created. I want to invest in my friendships and love so intensely as I've been called to do. So I traded in the meds for a gym membership, and filled a planner up with friends' names. Hear my testimony: I have never thrived more in my Christian walk than I am right now. And how exciting to think that the Lord has even more of His awesome glory to show me!
I still live in pain. We all will until Christ returns. My body is limited still, but I'm getting stronger so that I can enjoy what life throws at me (currently preparing my body for a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon - be on the lookout for the photos in August!)
I'd like to share one more thought: believers are watched ever-so-closely under pressure. The world wants to see whether or not we will crack when life gets hard. I learned this the hard way, for my response to my pain has not always been so God-glorifying (Lord you are so gracious). His lesson for me lately has been I can rejoice in my weaknesses because His grace is ever-sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). May Christ always be magnified in my brokenness, and in yours.