PEACE AND PURPOSE BLOG SERIES
Blessed and Limping: A Story of Peace and Purpose in Pain by Katie Scott
“And how are you doing today?” The masked nurse swung open the door while directing me to her station to collect my vitals.
My voice was clipped and that wasn’t like me. I normally try hard to be pleasant, the kind of patient nurses look forward to interacting with, but today was not that day.
I unclenched my jaw and tried to breathe deeply as she efficiently wrapped my arm in a blood pressure cuff and squeezed.
Puff, puff, puff.
Her brow crinkled.
“Hmm. Your blood pressure is pretty high today. As she readjusted the cuff she announced, “Let me try that again.”
“Well, I am in a lot of pain,” I muttered with tears pricking my eyes.
For the past five months, I had been suffering from psoriasis. It started as a patch of dry skin on my hand. It became more inflamed, then spread to cover both of my palms, and then my feet. It alternatively itched, blistered, ached, and cracked until my palms and fingers were dotted with tiny papercut-like micro-tears.
That day at the office I could hardly close my fist they were so swollen.
I had no experience with chronic pain. Not that you ever hope to have that kind of experience on the resume of your life.
Every morning I woke up and the first thing I did was look at my hands.
“Were they any better?”
“Were there fewer cuts?”
“Could I move them more easily?”
I lived for the good days.
When I could wash my hands without wanting to cry. When I clicked my preschooler’s car seat buckles into place with ease. When I didn’t constantly feel at the end of my patience with my kids because I hadn’t expended all my emotional energy on the pain.
More often, I had bad days.
I went to therapy to help with stress.
I cut out all activities for my kids.
I stepped down from leadership at my church.
I couldn’t do dishes or clean the house.
I paused hosting our small group because the food prep and cleaning up the house left my hands almost unusable for days.
I cut back on work.
I napped every day–to get a break from the pain.
Having chronic pain made everything in my life get smaller.
Everything except my faith.
I was reading through the gospels while going through the worst of my psoriasis, and I gave extra attention to every time Jesus healed.
Who? And why? And what did He say to them? What means did He use to bring about the healing?
How did they respond?
I noticed how often Jesus asked obviously broken people, “What do you want me to do for you?” Their answers felt a lot like mine.
“It’s my son, Jesus.”
“I want to see.”
“I want to walk.”
“I don’t want to live with this pain anymore. Heal my broken body.”
“Isn’t it obvious, Jesus, what I want from you?”
Jesus, of course, didn’t ask because He didn’t know the answer. He asked because He wanted to listen. He wanted to hear in their own words what pained them.
I committed to being honest with Jesus about my pain. I decided not to pull back in anger or hurt because this wasn’t the way I saw my life going, but to welcome Jesus to sit with me in the tension of human pain and unanswered prayers.
I invited Him in as I wrestled with my identity–when I felt like I was less because I was doing less. I invited Him into my anger–poured into journals and uttered broken prayers at the kitchen sink or when I stepped into my room and screamed in frustration. I welcomed Him into my sadness–too exhausted from holding it together to pretend I was okay.
I asked Jesus to be near when I felt tired of constantly explaining my illness–that it wasn’t like your Aunt Sally’s dry skin or your cousin’s psoriasis. In the raw emotion swirling around my disease, Jesus didn’t require an explanation. He was simply there.
I needed Jesus like never before. And He showed up for me. He was faithful and present with me when I felt reduced to a diagnosis. Like Job’s friends who were willing to sit with their friend for three days without saying a word, Jesus grieved with me.
While I wished for a quick healing, a miracle of the New Testament variety, instead I found myself engaged in a convoluted Old Testament story. These stories are a web of messy people, who get ahead of God, who ask impetuous questions, who aren’t the best examples, and whose stories don’t wrap up with a neat bow.
I found the most solace in the story of Jacob’s all-night wrestling match with God. At one point, God wounds Jacob and then He asks to be released. It would make sense in this situation for Jacob to push away from God in frustration. Instead, Jacob clings to Him tenaciously and makes this brazen request: “I will not let go until you bless me.” (Genesis 32:28)
Jacob was broken and at his weakest when He asked for the unthinkable–an undeserved blessing. A blessing for the guy who had been a trickster, blurring the lines since the day he was born.
And God did bless him, but also, Jacob walked with a limp the rest of His days. Because maybe healing isn’t the only way God shows His love to me, maybe an unbroken body isn’t the only way He gives His blessing.
God blesses with peace and with His presence in the midst of a non-healing situation. He gives purpose to my pain through the ways this situation has grown my faith and my family.
And I know if Jacob could be blessed from wrestling with God–blessed and still limping–then maybe I can be too.
Katie M. Scott is a writer, online content creator, and speaker who empowers women to chase vibrance in the everyday moments of life. On her blog, chasingvibrance.com. Katie weaves together spiritual encouragement and Bible study guidance as she inspires women to pursue joy and intentionality in the big and little moments. Katie has a BA in Biblical Counseling and is passionate about combining the grace and truth of the gospel for her readers. She is also a mom of three wild and wonderful kiddos and makes her home in small-town Indiana with her husband, Nate, a worship pastor. Katie loves to connect with fellow women of faith on Instagram https://instagram.com/chasingvibrance and Facebook https://facebook.com/chasingvibrance.