There are a segment among us who we need to encourage and give honor to. It is those who live with long term illness and pain and who endure it with patient, faithful courage. The cross they take up daily is a hard one because for many it is a constant one all day, every day.
Few things train us to trust God more fully than ongoing unremitting pain. Paul prayed that God would take His away and God declined saying that His strength was made perfect in His weakness. My dear friend Ann lives with it as she struggles with cancer treatments as does another friend Roger.
What amazes me is how they handle it with a grace that seems supernatural - and that is exactly the case. It is the daily presence of Jesus and their trust in Him which makes all the difference. But the choice to press into Him daily is no less hard.
My friend, Joni Erikson Tada talks about the inner struggle she faces every morning when she wakes up and has to face the long and painful process of getting ready for her day. Every day she must make a choice and many days it is a hard choice that is a matter of sheer will.
The church needs to come alongside those who struggle with ongoing unremitting pain. Prayer, visits, practical help, meals, words of encouragement (and not flip encouragement or glib statements about God's presence).
I pray for those who live a quiet, patient, faithful and courageous life with deep pain. I count them as heroes who know what it is to walk a hard path. I count them lucky for the grace they daily experience in the hard places. Don't ignore those in your midst who walk this path.