If God Loves Me, Why Do I Hurt So Much?

The snow fell — first gently, then with greater urgency — as I turned my car toward home. Having all but flunked out of my first semester of college (my newfound social life had taken its inevitable toll), I took my parents' advice and got a job until I figured out what I was going to do with my life. Clearly, engineering school was not "it."

The gently rolling hills of northern New Jersey have a few steep stretches, including one mile-long incline I had to navigate downhill on the last leg of my journey. As I neared that section of road, I almost stopped at my boyfriend's house. But we'd recently had a falling out, so I took a deep breath and kept driving.

The last thing I remember was the flash of a yellow light, warning of the blind signal ahead. It said nothing about the solid sheet of black ice — or the poorly banked road that would send my skidding vehicle into oncoming traffic.

Choices of a Lifetime           

It's one of the great ironies of the human condition that the amount of time spent pondering a decision is seldom proportionate to its long-term significance. The special dress you spent weeks finding, altering, and accessorizing is but a page in some dusty scrapbook. One impulsive passionate interlude, on the other hand, can have life-long repercussions.

My car accident might have been prevented had I made any number of small decisions a bit differently: not going in to work that day, or deciding to stop at my friend's house. I would have been spared a great deal of suffering (at least the physical variety). But I didn't — and to this day I carry the scars of those choices on my body: tracks along my legs and abdomen, spinal arthritis, disk rupture, and pinched sciatica. And yet, God sometimes allows His children to suffer terribly … in order to draw them as close as possible to Himself.

 I was hospitalized for more than a month. During that time, my romantic entanglement was abruptly severed (he found out my injuries were serious enough that I might not be able to have children). Fortunately, I had the steady support of another friend, who assured me that any man who deserved me would find the scars beautiful, "Because those scars are a part of your story, part of what makes you … you."

I took great comfort in those words, and in the realization that — for all that I had suffered — it had been a small price to pay. God had my undivided attention for the first time in my life. Clearly, He had spared my life for a reason, and I wanted to know what that reason was. I didn't know what His plan for my life would be, but it had to be an improvement on what I had done with it so far.

Wounded … or Scarred?

A year after the accident, the pin that had been set in my left femur worked its way loose, and began to dig into my hip joint. Since the pin no longer served a useful purpose, I was scheduled for surgery to have it removed. Unfortunately, I had to wait a week for an opening — a week of lying in bed and trying not to move.

Two days before the surgery, I was visited by one of the church elders and his wife, who came to pray for me. They believed that God wanted to heal me not through the hands of a surgeon, but through prayer. Not seeing a graceful way out of it, I grudgingly let them put their hands on my leg and pray — and was amazed when, a few seconds later, I was able to get up and jump around the room. (The pin was removed anyway.)

I should have been thrilled, but I wasn't. That night I gave God a good talking to. Why had He seen fit to heal my leg in this unconventional fashion, when I was going to have the problem fixed in a few days anyway? Why would He bother with such a trifle when He had not healed my sister's cancer or my Aunt Rosemary's ALS? Why would He use "faith healing" to fix my leg, when all over the world people were dying from injury and disease far worse than mine, without any medical assistance?

There was no immediate celestial response (such as a zap of lightning for my ingratitude.) Through the years, I've come to recognize that this is the way God often operates. The mystery is part of His charm. He can handle our questions, though the answers are sometimes years in the telling. He has the answers, of course — and He knows when we will best be able to receive them.

It wasn't until years later, when I first heard of the Incarnation Principle (that God initiates contact with the human race through the sensible world) that I began to understand what had happened to me. God had not shifted that pin merely to spare me a few more days of physical pain. Rather, He wanted to remind me that I could trust Him to tend to me — on His terms, and not on mine — as a loving father cares for his children.

Have You No Scars?

Whether our wounds are physical, emotional, or spiritual, the principle remains the same: God uses the painful consequences of our actions to draw us into deeper relationship with Himself. As we endure the pain and the scars begin to form, those marks can become a source of bitterness … or thankfulness.

If in our pain we choose to pull away from God (either because we think He's abandoned us, or because we are trying to punish ourselves), our scars become a constant reminder of our own failings and weaknesses. However, if we let ourselves draw close to God — in prayer and through the sacraments — He tends to our wounds and teaches us important lessons that we could not learn any other way.

When this happens, He does not remove the scars entirely; the pain may stay with us for a lifetime. However, these marks no longer accuse us, no longer have any power to determine our future course. They have been transformed into reminders of God's providence and mercy. And with these scars, we are turned a little more perfectly into the image of the One who was wounded for our sins, and the sins of the whole world.

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  • Guest

    Jesus carries the scars of his Crucufixion and so do we. Whether the scars are self-inflicted or the result of some victimization they're still the scars of the Body of Christ, us. Scars are unique, scars are beautiful. The God of the OT wanted unblemished, clean Sacrifice. The NT God accepted the almost mutillated Body of His Son, probably scarred beyond recognition. The scarring with our sins continues. I wonder if and when we get our perfect bodies they may still have these scars. As a man I look at female models and I don't find them beautiful. They certainly are in a way but it looks so uninteresting. I look for a feature that isn't quite so, something characteristic, that's attractive. I found Dianne Sawyer attractive till she had plastic surgery. Those character lines are gone and to my eyes so is the beauty of the soul.

  • Guest

    Thank you so much for this beautiful story. I am so thankful, so awe struck by God's mercy towards us in our suffering, and so amazed at His wisdom and knowledge in turning our suffering into a thing of beauty.


    Paul writes:

     "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Cor. 12:7-10)

  • Guest

    God loves you .

    “. . . on His terms, and not on mine.”

    How often must any of us suffer terribly, from whatever cause(s), to begin to learn to turn to God, no matter HIS way and not his or her own choices and expectations? Of suffering and God’s will, this is a lesson that simply must be hammered into my prideful hard head and selfish wayward heart.

    My Lord God has His inimitably perfect will, His plan that includes only the best for me, and His love that I can only barely comprehend, let alone imitate to return. He is God, and I am not; and, that means that at minimum God is everyone’s great Love, finest and maybe sole Hope and Alpha and Omega cause for all Faith. In searching for such truth, I have found that, as well, God is Truth – subjective, objective, catalytic Being Who Is Truth as well as Inventor of truth. It does me well to think just that God is both subjective and objective, and perfectly so, as no human can even pretend to be.

    What am I, who am I, but my weaknesses, my imperfections, the outcomes of my sins? Of my best, my talents, I am gifts from above and nothing simply of me. How can my fears, worries and anxieties lead me infinitely, or my misperceptions and miscues and my wrong choices of sin or just plain human foible to guide me eternally? (‘Human foibles’? I got a million of them . . .)

    G. K. Chesterton notes that it takes to maturing in middle-age to take the time to look up the shortening road of life for hope’s markers to eternal life. And, that not so much about the ‘middle-age’ as that long road to ‘maturing’. If one thing about my maturity in my middle- to old-age tells me anything, it is that I am my own worst master. One could say that I am ‘too close to me’ to be good for me, and they are right. For, too close to me has been too distant from God. Finally – FINALLY – He gets through to me that as He is Love, His love is Mastery. Of His Love and Mastery come my hope. To Whom else can I go? My Lord God, Jesus Christ, has the words of eternal life, and everything up to the eternity He wants for me with Him.

    In trying to get the best expression for my ‘emulating the love of God’, of somehow being a human copy of divine Love, I looked up ‘copy’ in the thesaurus.
    As a noun – a state of being – to think to be the copy of Love is ‘an inferior substitute imitating an original: ersatz, imitation’.
    That doesn’t sound quite right!
    As a verb – the act of doing – to copy Love is ‘to make a copy of: duplicate, imitate, replicate; or, to take as a model or make conform to a model: emulate, follow’.
    There are similarities, noun to verb, but not quite. Even my unconscious choice of articles give it away – A state of being versus THE act of doing.

    Of love for and with Love, God would have me follow Him, not seek to ‘stand about being like’ Him in some incomplete testimony. If I would love like Love, I am acting in attempt to be the same as; no inertial presumption from, say, Baptism. Indeed, does He not put my Baptismal vows in His minister’s voice? I answer that ‘I do’ so vow; my vow to accept and acknowledge my state. However, His voice begins to deliver my marching orders – His guidance for my actions that I follow Him. And, in my actions, the fulfillment of the testimony I have.

    Remember, I love you, too

    Reminding that we are all on the same side – His,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell @catholicexchange.com or … yahoo.com)

  • Guest

    My own observations of life coupled with my personal experience of suffering have taught me one thing, and very decisively too: the worst things happen to the best people. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.

  • Guest

    It seems like Heidi's article is perfect for today:  The Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.                          

    The Saint for the day section was excellent too. (It detailed how to pray with our Lady of Sorrows.)

    That said, I am sorry, my human side speaking, that you had to suffer so much Heidi. 

    Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity wrote a beautiful letter to her mother explaining how she rejoiced in her suffering.  Amazing!11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111

  • Guest

    Beautiful article.  Beautiful comments. 



  • Guest

    I had 3 strokes last December and although I don't know God's plans, I try to be open to his will