A Prayer for When the Pain Returns

Old pains have made new appearances lately. The jaw pain I thought was almost gone is back with a vengeance, and my knee has decided to act up again. I’ve felt discouraged, set back, and weary, unsure how to process this.

Why would God remove certain pains, after much prayer, only to return them? How am I supposed to understand these recurrences? Why does it seem like I can never get ahead of the pain and discomfort?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. I’m at a loss for words when the pain returns and presses upon me with its fearful weight.

No, I don’t have the answers, but I do know the truth. So I’m praying the truth today. I’m clinging to it, choosing to hope in God’s Word and in the great salvation I have in Christ. This is what I know to be real and true, when I have little clue how to process the pain. This eternal plan is a greater reality than my suffering, and I want to fix my eyes on it.

So this is my prayer. If your pains have returned, or if you’re suffering in any way today, I’d love for you to pray with me.

Give ear to my words, O Lord;

   consider my groaning.

Give attention to the sound of my cry,

   my King and my God,

   for to you do I pray.

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;

   in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. (Psalm 5:1-3)

My King and my God! Thank you for hearing me today. When I cry to you, I know you hear me, and that’s a sweet, undeserved gift. I want to be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to you, especially in the way I handle this pain. I wait on you, and I watch for you. Give me eyes to see your faithfulness and works today.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;

   evil may not dwell with you.

The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;

   you hate all evildoers.

You destroy those who speak lies;

   the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (vv. 4-6)

I’m reminded of what you’ve rescued me from. Wickedness, evil, boasting, deceit. Sin and death. You’ve cared for my greatest need; when I was entrapped in sin—dead in it—you made me alive together with Christ! The sickness of soul that ravaged me has been healed, and you’ve washed me clean by the blood of Jesus. Though my bodily pain is great, it pales in comparison to the pain of eternal punishment and separation from you. You have delivered my soul!

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,

   will enter your house.

I will bow down toward your holy temple

   in the fear of you.

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness

   because of my enemies;

   make your way straight before me. (vv. 7-8)

Your great salvation, your steadfast love, your grace and mercy: All these gifts fill me with joy and peace! I need you to transform my pain into praise. I need you to reveal how the pain points me to the righteousness that’s mine in Jesus. The enemy is at work, causing suffering and discouragement, but he’s been defeated, and the presence of this pain reminds me of that. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning! And never more so when you will gather your people, wiping away our every tear and healing us completely.  

For there is no truth in their mouth;

   their inmost self is destruction;

their throat is an open grave;

   they flatter with their tongue.

Make them bear their guilt, O God;

   let them fall by their own counsels;

because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,

   for they have rebelled against you. (vv. 9-10)

Father, where this pain reveals sin in my heart, blot it out! May pride, bitterness, anger, and any other sin be exposed. If pain is what it takes to see more of my sin, what keeps me from knowing you more and being more like you, then I praise you for that gift. Where I’ve rebelled against you, forgive me. Where my words have been rash and ungrateful, forgive me. Thank you for Jesus, who bore my guilt on the cross, so I would never have to.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;

   let them ever sing for joy,

and spread your protection over them,

   that those who love your name may exult in you.

For you bless the righteous, O Lord;

   you cover him with favor as with a shield. (vv. 11-12)

I don’t get this pain, or why it has returned with such force. I don’t know your mind or wisdom. But I take refuge in you, not in my understanding. I sing for joy in you, not because my pain has gone away. I exult in you, not in deliverance from these circumstances. I hope in you, not in the way I feel. You have indeed protected me, and you cover me with your favor! I have known your great salvation and intimate fellowship with you because of Jesus—and this eternal reality will always bless and protect me, even when the pain returns.

I love you, Father. I love your Son and your Spirit. I need you. I always do. This pain just makes it more apparent to me. And for that, I’m grateful.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

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