Pain, many times, is not a pleasant experience. It’s downright painful. And there is an emotional pain. It’s the kind of pain that digs deep into the soul. Sometimes, it’s rooted in past hurts or painful words spoken into our lives. Other times, it’s triggered from deep, emotional traumas experienced as a child. Then, there are times that the cause is completely hidden, buried deep within our soul.
I don’t believe God created pain to make us miserable. There is purpose in pain. It points us to a problem that should be treated at the root cause. Most of the time, we just treat the outward symptoms and neglect the inward cause. The painkillers take on many forms. For some, it’s alcohol or drugs. Others, it’s a numbing habit or ritual to ease the pain. Our most common response to pain is this: “Make it go away! Now!” We always want the fastest way out of pain. But, it can be dangerous if all we do is numb the surface and neglect the deeper issue.
I think anxiety and panic are types of emotional pain. And, I believe that there are root issues that draw us into these tormenting experiences. And, just like physical pain, we crave “painkillers” to immediately ease the discomfort of emotional pain.
When I battled these attacks, I had my “painkillers”–things like alcohol, avoidance, perfectionism, overwork, television, to name just a few. Rather than embrace the pain and seek God for true healing, I often sought the path of least resistance. In doing so, I only buried the pain until a later time. Later, it would always resurface with greater intensity. What I learned was this truth: when you numb your fears, you feed them, making them stronger and more powerful.
You may ask, “So, what do I do?” In the simplest of terms, resist the urge to manage your pain. Resist the urge to cope. Don’t fight the fear. Pray that God will show you the root cause. No matter how deep your fear goes, God can go deeper. No matter how dark your experience will be, God’s light will break through the darkness.
Years ago, in the midst of my struggles, I was going through a really dark time. Daily, I battled the intrusive thoughts of fear and anxiety, mixed with full-blown panic attacks. And, during that time, I would not let myself rely on the painkillers as I had previously. It was hard–very hard–but, I fell to my knees in prayer, asking God to meet me in my pain. No matter how deep the fear pulled me down, God was there to meet me. His grace and strength were incredible. He became so real to me.
It’s been almost five years now, and by the wonderful mercy of God, I haven’t had any panic attacks or crippling anxiety. Rather than numb the pain, I embraced it, trusting God to meet me there, trusting him to take care of me. And he did.
I challenge you this week to do one thing: resist the urge to manage your pain. Instead, ask God to help you embrace your pain, so that he can show you his love and his desire to bring you to peace that passes all understanding.
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
Prayer: Lord, keep me from numbing the pain of panic and fear. Show me the coping mechanisms that I’m using to numb the pain, and help me stop. Lord, meet me in my pain. It hurts, but you are bigger than any struggle I face. I put my trust in you.