So I went to the doctor a while back after chugging Ibuprofen wasn’t doing the trick and was reminded of something that I should have remembered. Just because you have pain in a particular area of the body that doesn’t necessarily mean that area is the problem. I mean I should have remembered once before when I was having the old gall bladder issue and it had to be removed. I remember my back was feeling like someone was taking the end of a baseball bat and grinding it into my back with all the strength and intensity they could muster. I thought I had a back problem, but it was a gall bladder issue. They call it something like “displaced pain”. The area of the pain is not necessarily where the problem is. Looks like something similar may be occurring this time. I’m always thankful for the age that I live in, to have available people who can determine what the issue really is and help me to deal with it so that I can get rid of the root problem. I mean, what did they do in the “old” days? I guess they just suffered until they...died. But not today, thank the Lord.
You know the same thing can happen in the spiritual life. You think you’re having a marital issue because of the pain you’re experiencing in the relationship, or a financial issue because you get call after call about that debt that you’ve incurred, or maybe it’s an health issue that has arisen because of a weight issue, or maybe the disconnect from a child that is causing a lot of angst. The list could go on and on, and yet, it appears that so much of the time those aren’t the issues at all. The root of the problem goes back to our relationship with the Lord and whether or not we are walking in the Spirit. That means...living our life as the Lord designed it to be maximized as we are led by the Spirit throughout the day, week, month, year...lifetime. Listen to this:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-25 (NASB77)
Whenever a person responds in a relationship or to a crisis or any situation in an “inappropriate” way...I’m talking about “sinning”, there are consequences that cause pain. Whenever a person violates the Scripture and loads on debt they can’t handle...there are consequences that cause pain. Whenever a person has increased their weight with disregard for the body, which is a “temple” of the Holy Spirit, there are consequences that cause pain. Whenever a parent farms out the discipline and training of their children to someone else with complete disregard to Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6, there will be consequences that involve pain. Whenever a person lives selfishly in a marriage relationship in violation of the Scripture, there are consequences that cause pain. You will notice in each one of those areas mentioned that if not diagnosed properly, the same pain will hang around, get worse, and will often be repeated over and over, and over and over. You think you have a marital problem, or a debt problem, or “whatever”, but the real problem is a person’s relationship with Christ, because they are not being led by the Spirit.
Imagine if marriage relationships were defined by and lived according the Word of God as led by the Holy Spirit and couples were no longer selfish, but saw themselves as being helpers and builders of one another...WOW. If people in a marriage relationship would just stop being selfish...which is what we are and what we do when we “live in the flesh”, most pain would be taken care of. You know why? Because the real problem would have been addressed. Because when you’re selfish, you have a God problem. Selfishness is not a “fruit” of the Spirit no matter how much the world tells you it’s OKAY and you should take care of number one no matter what. Same thing with all the examples I mentioned, and most of the others I didn’t mention, but you thought of. I mean if we hadn’t incurred all the debt and followed the admonition and wisdom of the Lord...no pain. Really the debt problem is a God problem. If you don’t walk in the Spirit...live the Christian life for “real” every day...you’ll live in the flesh...which is painful.
Be encouraged, you’re just a human, but being saved by grace you can start to alleviate the pain by working on the real issue. Ask yourself the question. Just how Christ- like am I in the way I live? Am I living like Christ wants me to? Am I asking, “What would Jesus do”? And “Am I doing it”. That’s where the Spirit will always lead you...to Jesus...and the truth...so we can be set “free”...from the pain.
Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, " If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31-32 (NASB77)
Stop wasting time ignoring the “root” of the problem...which is your relationship with the Lord...that’s why things are messed up. In the end, you can’t control anybody else...only you...and then just respond to the situation just like Jesus would. Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the “desire”, yes, it says “desire”. Our selfishness is often the driver behind ungodly behavior and the pain we experience, but if you walk in the Spirit you will not carry out the “desire” of the flesh.
Displaced pain...what a bummer, but thankfully we live in a day where someone can tell me what the real problem is. It can be dealt with...one step at a time.
Take the first step today with your “displaced” pain...by “walking” in the Spirit. It’s a whole lot more effective than Ibuprofen.