Waiting in Pain

It was 1 a.m. when the neck spasm began.

Intense pain, slowly pulling my neck forward. I hauled myself out of bed, took some ibuprofen, and lay on the couch in the living room. The pain kept intensifying, my head drawing further toward my chest. By 2 a.m. I couldn’t endure the pain any longer, so I grabbed the car keys and eased out my driveway toward the hospital.

If you’ve been to the emergency room lately you know it usually involves lots of waiting. It’s my least favorite place to wait. You wait while they take your symptoms and insurance information. Then you wait in the examination room. Wait while they ask more questions about pain levels and insurance and medical history, your grades in elementary school, political affiliation, favorite bowler and patron saint.

By 4 a.m. I still hadn’t received so much as an aspirin. My chin is practically touching my chest. I know that no human being has ever tasted such excruciating pain. What is taking so long? They must be flying the medicine here from New Zealand. Have they no mercy on the suffering? Am I in some kind of Edgar Allen Poe story? I’ll tell you anything you want. Just let me have some medicine.

And then, outside my room, I hear someone say, “Hey guys, I’m gonna make a run for some burgers. Anybody want anything?” I’m incensed. You’re going out for burgers while I’m writhing in agony in here? And then I hear laughter. They’re laughing out there. Laughing. While I’m in here with an ice pick in my neck.

Finally, my painkiller came, about 30 minutes after the burgers.

Waiting in pain is no fun. Bob waited in pain for 16 years.

16 years ago, I got a call that Bob, a friend from church, had been life-flighted to Pittsburgh. He’d flipped a tractor, and fallen beneath it, sustaining many injuries, particularly to his back and head. God spared his life and eventually he came home to his family. But Bob never quite got back to normal. For 16 years Bob suffered constant excruciating headaches, neck and back pain.

Last May he’d sunk to the lowest point in his life. He was on the verge of despair when his wife Denise heard about a new treatment – injections into the back muscles that cause them to tighten, aligning the spine and relieving headaches. Bob was skeptical but began the treatment to please Denise. But now, after a few months of injections, Bob has been experiencing lasting relief from headaches for the first time since his accident. How thankful Bob and Denise are to God. What joy they are experiencing.

Lamentations 3:24-26 says, “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,“therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him,to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Why was it good for Bob and Denise to wait? As they’ve waited, they’ve developed a deep trust and reliance on God. They’ve experienced the Lord’s help and strength. For all these years, in addition to other ways he serves, whenever church families have moved, Bob’s been on the point, leading the crews loading the moving vans. You never would have known his head was throbbing. I’ve never heard the slightest complaint escape his lips. Bob’s one of the funniest guys in our church, with a great sense of humor and cheerful demeanor.

Bob and Denise have experienced Christ’s grace in weakness, and found God to be a refuge and strength. God has built patience and perseverance into them. And now, because they have patiently waited, they’ve seen God’s providence in providing healing through an unexpected avenue. Also, their patient waiting has made the answer to their prayers all the more sweet.

Is it good to wait quietly for the Lord? Ask Bob and Denise.

  • beth

    this post is so encouraging. thankyou, dad.
    beautiful to see His promise fulfilled –
    “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
    he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.”
    Ps 112.4

    we have so much hope…

    “…God made a promise to Abraham…“Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise
    So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope…”
    Heb. 6.13-15,17-19

  • Mark Altrogge

    Thanks, Beth. What a great Scripture you mentioned! You are a great example of someone who is patiently waiting for God…

  • http://www.judahupdate.blogspot.com Briana

    With an ice pack on my back, I read this! I have had chronic back pain off and on for many years. Since November, when I had such a similar ER and pain experience as the one you mentioned, I’ve been in constant pain. I know Bob and Denise and others who have and continue to wait patiently for God’s healing. I don’t think it’ll ever be said of me that never was a complaint heard (I’m just not that sanctified yet), but I know my God is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and will heal me, too, in His perfect timing. It is good to be spurred on by the example of others…maybe I’ll actually make it an hour or two without complaining about it. :)

  • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Mark Altrogge

    Hi Briana,

    I’m so sorry to hear you are in pain and have had chronic back pain. I will pray for you. I so appreciate your statement: “I know my God is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love…”

    These kinds of faith-filled statements in the midst of pain are so God-glorifying and pleasing to Him.

    And I’ve probably complained more when I get a cold than you have with your back pain…

  • http://www.stomachgasbloating.com Angel Baker

    my uncle got stomach ulcers because he took a lot of Aspirin to take care of his high blood pressure.~-~