Working with my trainer this past year—which doubles as physical therapy for me with an autoimmune disease—gave me new insight on pain recently.

Before, I was paralyzed by fear of pain. I avoided certain movements and developed coping mechanisms that, come to find out, exacerbated my injuries and affected my surrounding joints and muscles.

But at training, whether doing deadlifts or having to re-learning basic form to climb the stairs, I was introduced to a new concept: considering pain objectively and examining it with curiosity in order to respond appropriately.

Does this pain point to an underlying issue I’ve been avoiding getting addressed? Is it because I’ve let surrounding muscles get weak, causing a particular joint or movement to destabilize?

Is the pain structural or soft tissue? Does it increase, decrease, or stay the same on a given exercise? Are my joints or muscles communicating that I need to back off, correct my form, or find a new exercise? (Very seldom it’s the latter).

The exact same goes for the spiritual life.

In our fear of suffering, we tend to avoid anything hard or painful because we only want to feel good and comfortable. Yet this keeps us trapped in injury and weakness instead of freeing us for healing and growth. Running from pain causes us to develop internal coping mechanisms that atrophy our souls and wear at unsuspecting parts of our spirits.

If you can relate, here are some questions to help use pain as information instead of as a vehicle for fear:

+ What pain have you been avoiding in your spiritual life?

+ Have you related it honestly to your “trainer,” the Lord?

+ Is your mind resisting in fear what the Lord might intend for your spiritual strength & fitness?

+ Is this a passing, surface-level sensation allowed to condition & strengthen areas of atrophy in your soul?

+ Or a symptom pointing to an underlying issue/injury you haven’t been willing to address or diagnose?

+ Is it brought on by the ‘poor form’ of sin crippling your soul which can be corrected through the healing mercy of confession?

+ Is it an area the Lord is inviting you to press into, like a memory you’ve been pushing away that you can instead face head-on with Him—so He can strengthen, heal, and help your soul understand it in the context of eternity?

Exploring or facing painful situations with the Lord may be uncomfortable, but with God’s grace, it is always possible—and can help unlock the door to greater freedom and healing.

Image courtesy Depositphotos.

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