I have a chronic, incurable illness. It causes a multitude of symptoms, with varying degrees in each person afflicted. The two main symptoms are pain and fatigue, sometimes mild, sometimes debilitating. A person’s ability for compassion and empathy only extends a certain distance beyond the end of his or her nose, and each person you know will have a different threshold for empathy.
Some may be very sympathetic and genuinely want to hear how you are and how you are coping. Others may ask how you are, but don’t really want to know. There are some who are completely oblivious, and some who really don’t care. And then there are the ones (usually a veritable crowd) who think they understand your pain in the context of “everyone has problems (or pain, or gets tired, etc).” These are the hardest, for me, to have to deal with. And I rarely speak about my condition at length with anyone for two reasons. The first being there is only so much one person wants to hear, and secondly, only so much I want to say. I don’t want pity, just some understanding.
But anyone who does not have this condition, or has not dealt with chronic pain, can’t begin to understand. And although that is frustrating, it is, at the same time, understandable. There are days when, by the time I get home in the afternoon, I am drenched in sweat because of the pain. Sometimes the pain is so severe I am wake up in the middle of the night to take more meds. Sometimes it’s better; sometimes it’s worse. But the hardest thing of all is, most of the time I am in the company of people who have no idea just how bad it can be, and worse, when I have to decline something (staying late or doing something I can’t do) I have to hear, “That’s always your excuse,” as if I am exaggerating or outright lying.
It adds a degree of difficulty to something already nearly unbearable. But, one day I was driving home talking to God about my pain and frustrations, and I suddenly realized – He gets me! I know Jesus in human form suffered greatly, so He actually felt pain, but that is not what I am talking about. The revelation to me was – God knows how I feel, even though He cannot feel my pain physically. God is all knowing, all powerful, He knows things intimately – the depth and width and breadth of all our suffering and all our sorrow.
We want to make God like ourselves; we are made in His image, but He is far above us. We can’t even begin to fathom the magnitude of our God.
“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9
He feels my pain without feeling it. He knows exactly how I feel. I never need to feel like He doesn’t understand, or the frustration of not having the right words to make Him understand. He doesn’t feel pain, but He feels ours in His heart. He “gets” me.