I found this title in a diary I had written in my early twenties. My pains at that time were mostly about uncertainty of the future: would I find a spouse, would I have a family, where would I find a job and a place to live? Many things in my life were uncertain and seemed painful. I did not know then that I would return to this prayer: ”Do not let pain grow stronger than hope” much later in the middle of very different pain – already with a spouse, a family, a permanent job, and a place to live.
During the fall preceding the accident I had again painful thoughts. Distressful and oppressive things were happening around me and caused me to feel a gnawing pain. I seemed to be excessively burdened by my work, my husband’s studies, and my tumultuous daily life with growing children. There was also joy, but I had no time to really feel it. Afterwards I have wondered if the Heavenly Father wanted to give me a ”break” through the accident? Helped me get off the rat race for efficiency? I no longer need to get up early in the morning to take the children to day care, to hurry off to work, and to return home exhausted in the evening. But this is freedom that I got at a high price: permanent disability and constant physical pain and restrictions.
A couple of years after the accident I was due for a work experiment. I was not at all sure I could return to work, as the neck pain and the adverse effects of my brain trauma persisted almost unchanged. But I tried to be optimistic, thinking I would at least try. Again I prayed that the Heavenly Father would show His will regarding my resumption of work. This time the answer was quite upsetting – I had a traffic accident where a car ran into the back of my vehicle. My condition deteriorated again, and the work experiment had to be postponed.
Adjustment to a new kind of slower life has taken me years. I have scrambled up mountain roads, then traveled easier terrain for a while and stepped again on a rocky path that has seemed quite impassable. The words of the Psalm, "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil", have been true of my struggle.
And yet there have been moments when I have felt fear. Will I endure this? Will my family endure? Will I be completely paralyzed? Overcome by fears I have prayed: "Dear God, help me and my family. Comfort and bless us." And God has heard my prayers. He has always helped me move forward. At some difficult moments He sent an angel, an escort to walk by my side. At some other times, the answer came in the form of a letter with positive news about an allowance or income support. I was sometimes also empowered by a meeting with an understanding doctor or other professional. We have not been left completely alone. Hope has remained stronger than pain.
Gradually I have begun to have more space to live and breathe. I have been able to feel serene joy in the middle of pain. I have even wanted to sing a song of gratitude for the gift of life and all the good things that have been given to me. I have often felt the presence of God in my favorite spot, a crevice of rock by the seashore. When I sit there, looking at the horizon across the waves, I feel that time stretches into eternity and I feel completely safe.
My pains seem to subside for a while when I am surrounded by the beauty of nature and become aware of my smallness compared to God’s creation and eternity. I feel how very true the words of Psalm 23 are: "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."
While traveling on the path of pains, I have learnt a new way to relate to the pains of my fellow humans. Pain does not always show outwardly. An encounter with a smiling person may end up with a disclosure of many pains, even issues of life and death. Sometimes the pain is physical, sometimes it is sorrow for one’s own condition or that of someone else. One is bothered by small pain, but can learn to live with even severe pain. When I had a bad flu a couple of years ago, I felt myself really sick. We should not underestimate any pain.
Over the past few weeks I have been overwhelmed by a new situation. My youngest child will start school, and the oldest started military service. My husband is studying special education, which was my dream while I was still working. These matters caused me some pain at first, but soon began to seem like a great joy. Life will continue. At the same time, however, I felt quite lost with myself. Will I have to stay at home for ever, or will I still have an opportunity to experience something new?
A few months ago I wrote in my diary: "I have a strange feeling. I feel restless and expectant. It seems something special will happen soon. But I have no idea what.” One day later I met a neighbor who stopped to talk. She asked me if I would be interested in writing a blog for Päivämies. They would like to include in their group of bloggers someone with a chronic health problem but with light in their life. I felt dizzy and unable to respond right away. But after some exchanged emails everything was clear. Hesitant but cheerful I agreed.
This is a new beginning in my life. How can I write so that I will not offend or annoy people? Could my texts comfort or uplift someone who is living with pain or assisting such a person? Do I have anything new to offer in this world overflowing with texts? What if I am misunderstood? How can I accept possible critical feedback on what I write? I have many questions, but still feel unaccountably safe. I do not need to work alone. I have not needed to walk my path of pain alone either. I say a silent prayer to ask that "He would lead me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake."
Kesän 2020 Suviseurat järjestetään 26.–29. kesäkuuta radiossa ja netissä. Seuravieraat eivät kohtaa toisiaan nyt kenttäolosuhteissa, mutta kaikki voivat kuunnella Jumalan sanaa ja Kesäseuraradion ohjelmaa yksin tai läheistensä kanssa. Ohjelma lähetetään pääosin SRK:n toimistolta Oulusta.