By Chaplain (Maj.) Eric Park, 199th Infantry Brigade
FORT BENNING, Georgia (Oct. 18, 2017) – This past week, I had the opportunity to talk to a room of Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians during a midweek devotional time, and we talked about the “hidden arthritic areas” of our lives – the area that causes us pain no matter what we do, the soreness that won’t end and causes all our inner worst attitudes and moods. It’s different for everyone, and it has varying degrees of discomfort, pain and, in some instances, great suffering and turmoil.
The reason why I called this our “hidden arthritic area” is that most of us have a form of progressing or developing arthritis and we ignore it. Let’s face it, it’s true and we can’t do anything about it. And so we pop pain pills, and while sitting on the couch or in a chair, we rub and rub our sore areas, ignoring the fact that there’s some real wear and tear going on that we need to start addressing differently.
Like most common forms of arthritis, it’s going to happen. It won’t ruin our lives, but it does get uncomfortable. It is also not untreatable, although we live on as if it was.
As our group started sharing about what hurt or pain they’re currently experiencing, what became slowly evident to everyone who was beginning to listen to one another is that they were hearing the cracking, snapping sounds of the arthritis of one another’s lives and were realizing that their pain had a diagnosis and that it wasn’t going to stop until everyone started to address their “hidden arthritis.”
As the group began to reflect, share and encourage one another, everyone started to delve into some deeper reflection, which led to a new self-awareness, and it suddenly gave everyone hope. They were hopeful because they knew there was something that could be done about it, but they needed to admit what was causing the pain and not just dwell on the pain. For many of them it was money. For others it was loneliness, and others an issue of forgiveness.
Many of us are living with chronic pain in our hearts, minds and souls, as well as our bodies. We seem to be addicted to the pain because we live out our lives dwelling on the pain, wanting it to stop but refusing to diagnose and treat the cause of that pain. We also keep it secret, hiding it from others, all the while the agony and the burden of it telegraphs through us, in spite of all efforts to hide it.
Psalm 147:3-5 says, “He (God) heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and names each one. Our Lord is great and very powerful. There is no limit to what he knows.” What we ought to remind ourselves is that what is ultimately broken is known to the one who created you and called you to a greater purpose. We were never promised immunity from pain. In fact we were actually promised that we would experience them! But we were also promised that God, in all grace, mercy and compassion, would never forsake us and give us his all-surpassing peace and comfort.
Before the sun sets on another day, I hope that we will all take a moment, and whether we’re rubbing our knees, our lower backs, hands and feet from all of our developing arthritic areas, I hope you’ll also take a moment and think about how your life may be as sore as or more painful than your joints. The reality is, for some of us, our joints may need to be replaced someday. The good news is the hidden arthritic areas of life can actually be rebuilt and made to feel brand new again – no surgery required. This happens when we face the all too uncomfortable practice of facing the truth of what we’re unwilling to admit.
Whatever is at the root of your hurt, be encouraged and know that there is a God who knows, who cares, who is available and who will heal and restore. And also know that just as the members of that group discovered, there just might be someone else going through the same thing as you. That they needed someone who also knows, cares and is available because they were looking for the same.
Whatever is your hidden cause of pain, your “hidden arthritic area,” please don’t suffer alone. Reach out, seek the presence of someone you trust. Know that there are those who also know, care and are available to help you find the restoration and healing you need. Because to all of us and our loved ones, all our lives are irreplaceable.
For God and Country.
CH (MAJ) Eric Park
199th Infantry Brigade