I recently listened to a radio program detailing the positive results that have been discovered testing Virtual Reality games on people with chronic pain. Research shows that when our minds are distracted, our pain levels go down. And this test was proving that to be true. One tester lost his arm a few years ago and has struggled with phantom pain since then. During this test, however, not only did his brain stop sending any phantom pain signals, he also didn’t receive any incoming pain signals to his brain – despite test administrators applying pain to another part of his body. When explaining this, the administrator stated, “Pain needs an audience.”
Pain needs an audience.
That idea has been swirling around in my head ever since. Because when I’m hurting, I have to choose what I’m going to do with that pain. I’m tempted to cling to it. To embrace it and sink deep within it, letting it envelope me on all sides. I’m tempted to grow bitter and angry. I’m tempted to sit down on the front row and replay every…single…word. To watch every single action dramatically reenacted in the theater of my mind. And don’t I have every right? I was the one wronged. I was the one disregarded and made to feel invaluable. This wasn’t my fault. I didn’t ask for this.
And believe me when I tell you, I can give my pain one heck of an audience. Occupying much of my waking hours and all of my sleepless ones, I can tie so many everyday moments directly to my pain. But what happens when I take my pain to Jesus? What happens when I turn off the lights and walk out of the theater before the show is over? What happens when I let go? I don’t minimize my pain, I don’t deny it, I don’t pretend everything is perfect. What happens when I’m real, and I acknowledge it, but I’m not controlled by it?
Pain needs an audience. And when you aren’t there to give it one, it lessens. When you are not caught up in its trance, it loses its grip on you. You see, I feared giving up my seat in the auditorium signified a white flag…that I was somehow saying it didn’t matter, that it wasn’t a big deal, that maybe I had overreacted and my pain wasn’t as important as the pain others have experienced.
But I was wrong. That isn’t the case at all. Because Jesus is all the audience I need. He sees it all. I can drop my mask and be real with Him. And when I worship Him from that place of pain, I receive the healing I so desperately need. Not always in an instant, but when I continue to go to Him over and over again, praising Him in spite of my inconsistent and often unpredictable feelings in that particular moment, I find Him faithful. Every time. And once you build that rhythm of worship into your life, knowing you have that refuge to run toward provides so much security and peace.
This I declare, that he alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him.
For he rescues you from every trap and protects you from the fatal plague.
He will shield you with his wings! They will shelter you. His faithful promises are your armor.
Now you don’t need to be afraid of the dark anymore, nor fear the dangers of the day.
Psalm 91:2-5 Living Bible (TLB)