Physical pain takes people to a place of inward reflection.


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Working as a missionary nurse, my goal is to help reduce suffering for those that the Lord sends my way. Yet, I have come to find that learning to suffer with those who suffer is one of the greatest gifts I can offer.


As a health care provider, it's almost unacceptable to feel helpless. The main goal is to treat, and when this is not possible (which is often the case in medical missions), there is an overwhelming feeling of guilt. I am often taken to a place where I must raise my hand in answerless desperation to the One who holds all the answers.


I have oftentimes seen that physical pain takes people to a place of inward reflection. This reflection can lead a person to a point of desperation, or to a point of comfort. The comfort comes in finding a peace in Jesus that passes understanding in the midst of the pain.


Never has that comfort been truer for me than it is now.


For the first time in my life, I am experiencing physical pain that has no end in sight. When my back pain first started, I was diagnosed with malaria. I assumed the pain would subside after my treatment. Now, over a year after malaria, I have been told I have osteoarthritis in my back. The long-term treatment is therapy and symptomatic relief. I am told the pain will never permanently be relieved. And yet, as I reflect on my pain, I find that Jesus grants me a peace, a comfort, which he promises in his Word.


I have never recognized, as I do now, the vital importance of spiritual health as a first step of health, not as a last resort. Jesus says to us, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28). This is the place we must start with ourselves and our patients. He is the hope we can find in times of pain and joy. As Christian nurses, the greatest thing we have to offer people is our hope in Jesus Christ. The treatment of disease is an aside to what we do. We fool ourselves in thinking that treating the body is the main point. We must equip people to find comfort, not desperation, in their times of reflection about pain. Christ is the only One who can offer this peace and comfort that people so anxiously await.


I know that through my experience I have been given a fresh perspective on the importance of directing people to him first-not out of a feeling of helplessness-but as the answer to the greatest human need.