I’m no novice to the subject of pain, being so often hospitalized, having 6 surgeries in the past 8 years (4 in the past 4 years alone, the biggest one gave me 30 cm of scars around my neck and shoulder), 2 attempts of difficult natural births, and uncountable visits to emergency room.

No, pain is not something new. But still, every current pain feels very painful. It’s not really something you can say “oh, I’ve been experienced with this, so it’s not very painful anymore.” Well, it does work like that in some cases, every surgery felt less difficult because somehow I knew what to expect learning from previous surgeries. But unfortunately it doesn’t work like that, when you have. Tooth. Ache.

I went to bed two nights ago with a mild toothache, I started to be grumpy to my kids and my husband. But the pain I had last night is nowhere close to mild. It was an excruciating pain – I knew it wouldn’t kill me on the spot, but it could send me into a panic attack, and there’s the last thing I want to experience again – an uncontrollable panic and pain.

I began to pray, in the middle of annoying hiss and whimpering of my daughter who demanded my attention. I prayed that the two paracetamols and sleeping pills I’ve swallowed would take action this very minute. My husband tried to ease my pain by massaging my hands and feet – but nothing mattered, the pain was too big for me to bear and I started to despair.

I thought of people that had to endure pain all their lives – people with chronic illness, people who are dying. I thought about amazing Christians who inspired people on how they didn’t complain in the midst of their painful life. How did they do that? Does God take their pain away? Why is my pain still here, why doesn’t God listen to me and make the storm still in this very minute?

I prayed and prayed, and I remembered the verse I’ve read along with my family in the beginning of New Year. Psalms 23. 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

I am walking through the valley of death – I thought. The pain was unbearable, and I imagined what it would be like to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. What would it be like? Was it scary? Was it dark? Was it painful? And did all the hurt and dread disappear when he walked with God?

How does it feel like when people testify about grave ill people who were still peaceful in their pain because they knew God was right there with them. Did the pain go away? Or did they still feel them while at the same time being peaceful about that?

I prayed and prayed. I begged and I begged. I versed the psalms again and again, and I began to feel the presence of God. It was something I could never describe. It was bright, and warm, and glorious, I started to praise and praise that He is indeed a God who’s above everything – He is an amazing God, and how I’m blessed that I am His.

And no, the pain didn’t go away. I felt every pulse of it inside my jaw. But at the same time I felt a great surge of peace stroming in my heart. It was a very odd and unusual feeling, a paradoxical state of two opposite feelings at the same time. 

But now I know the answer to my questions. No, the pain doesn’t go away. No, the suffering doesn’t disappear. The pain stays. The pain stays. But the presence of God triumphs over it.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalms 23

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