Can God Help in the Fight Against Chronic Pain?

Can God Help in the Fight Against Chronic Pain?

By Ed Coghlan

You have heard the term, “God-fearing Marine”. At the National Pain Report we met one this month.

His name is Robert Rose and he lives in Gray, Tennessee and we found out he had written a letter to Congress complaining about the CDC Guideline on Opioid Prescribing, and it led to a conversation that he and I had first via email and then on the phone.

He’s a very interesting man.

Thus, we asked him for permission to republish some of the letter which he tells his story in a way that may be familiar to some of his fellow vets.

The 51-year old Rose is very candid about the role that his faith in God has played in his battle against chronic pain. He believes strongly that his faith in God has given him the energy to fight the fight for his fellow veterans suffering from chronic pain.

We invite you to read the entire story here.

Not surprisingly, his story caused quite a bit of reader response, which you can read at the end of the story. We were struck with several references that fellow pain patients had to their faith in God.

Here are some examples:

Tammy Coffin-Hana

“I was so deeply touched when I came across this article on Twitter. I have some information that could benefit you and your family greatly. Please know that God will not forsake you. Whatever you do, remember that He loves you very much, and HE is a good, good Father.”

Jean Price

“One thing you’ve done with your article, Robert, is to let others know you depend on your faith in God to help see you through….and many have responded here that they also do the same. My faith was strengthened less than a year before my first back surgery started all my pain and disability issues. And I’m sure I would not be here today, twenty-five years later, if I didn’t know God was in this with me! I feel like I’m living proof of His love and grace, especially if you look at all I and my family have come through.”

Maureen (no last name)

“Robert, Amen to that! I could not do any of my painful life without HIM in it.

Faith is the key and I’m happy to hear that He got your attention in a new way 🙂

Proverbs 3:5,6 Healing hugs to you and your wife.”

Another reader Kristen K commented, not speaking about the divine or faith but rather on what we as a country owe our veterans (which is what attracted this reporter to the story in the first place).

“I want to say Thank you Robert for serving our country. I want to say the story made me very sad. I am angry that with all the sacrifices you have made for all of us that you are denied Pain Medication. I am going to pray for you and I hope that you get the help and services that you deserve. No one should have to go through what you’re going through. Let’s take care of our Veterans.”

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 8 comments for this article
  1. Jean Price at 10:13 pm

    Joanna M….that may well be for some people, since there are many ways to believe and to use those beliefs for comfort or as “truth”…especially to have life make sense…to keep it tidy! Yet I’ve found life isn’t tidy at all and sometimes there is no sense to what occurs! There aren’t always hard, fast reasons things happen or people get hurt!

    For myself, I think God would never come up with a reason good enough for me! And I’ve told Him so! Because I’m human, and I hurt! Yet I do trust in His goodness to see me through anything, including daily pain! Pain is awful…and no LOVING earthly father would ever use it to “teach” his children a lesson or toughen them up! I don’t think God does either! Life happens, pain happens. And, as for reasons….there can be many! It could be….life style, career choices/physical challenges, genetics, life practices, body shape, consequesnces of surgically manipulating a body, accidents, viruses, the unknown, or a combination of several! To assign some ethereal reason for pain risks feeling punished or victimized, to me.

    So, my pain has never been about, for, or from God! He didn’t “give” this to me…He just brings good out of what has happened in my life!I Truly! I do think this is one of the age-old and most difficult mysteries/issues anyone struggles with…whether they believe in God or not. The WHY, and the ANSWER. Sometimes, I’ve learned you can’t know! And sometimes THE REASON just doesn’t matter….not nearly as much as making it through the best you can. That’s where my faith helps me. And I can’t imagine it would ever fail to.

  2. Joanna M at 4:13 pm

    Putting it simply, I think that people dealing with chronic pain want a REASON for it…an answer to the age-old “Why me??” Believing in God tends to make a person also believe that it’s all for a greater reason, a master plan, which can help you cope.

  3. Jean Price at 12:16 pm

    In 1989, when I was working with a group of services designed to keep patients in their homes and in the community, I met the most amazing people and learned so much that still helps me some twenty six plus years later! This was where my spiritual “awakening” went into overdrive…and I began to understand more about God and more about my own relationship with Him. I left this job to go back to school…when a back surgery with complications started my life with daily pain. Yet my time there prepared me in ways I’m so thankful for and in ways that help me through each year ever since!

    A coworker, who became a dear friend and mentor, taught me an imaging technique for pain she had learned from a hospice worker at a convention. That man was a Native American and a Christian who worked in hospice and saw people with overwhelming pain, and felt spirituality was an important area to help people with as part of their pain care. The technique is very spiritual and simple…yet hard to type out and explain with my fingers affected by RA! I have used it and been 100% renewed in my coping, regardless of my pain score! And I would gladly share it with anyone who would like to see if it helped them too. It is merely getting as comfortable as possible and looking through your “mind’s eye” to image some things. You can message me or email me at jeankprice@hotmail.com to get my phone number if you’d like to learn it.

    You don’t have to have an extraordinary imagination to image…it just happens when you lead yourself or someone else leads you with a few questions! And it keeps working long after the imaging, without you doing anything to analyze it! There are books about imaging and the technique is used for many purposes, even to help chemotherapy do its job by imaging it working in your body. Kids are usually very good at imaging theirs! A friend once told me every site of her cancer shrunk with her imaging, except the last one she imaged…and by then she was tired and usually stopped before she was done!! She said she was going to change the sequence and image it first, and this helped the one area more! It gives you a sense that you’re working with your body…instead of against it, when you image in certain ways. To me, it’s a like a gift…and a blessing each time!

  4. Jean Price at 8:02 pm

    I think Roberts’s article and the responses to his statements of faith have opened an important door to understanding wellness and healing…even with chronic diseases and life limiting pain! So, I’m really glad to see you run this additional article Ed! Each of us HAS a spiritual side, and pain often really bumps into our beliefs here! UNDERSTANDING all the parts of health and wellness, including our spituality, and how they fit can help us see where we may need to concentrate our efforts when we are ill, in pain, or simply struggling to feel more whole and know we are “enough”!

    If wellness was a chair…it would have a lot of legs!! And although each leg is important, it is the balance and the “ranking placement”…and the areas of weaknesses that can topple us! Plus when several legs are greatly compromised, we end up on the floor (literally AND figuratively!)…I guess you could say!

    Those “wellness legs” are the usual physical health, mental health, and emotional health needed for a “well” life. Yet that’s not all we need…there is more to the recipe for wellness! More legs to the chair! So added to these are…the health of our financial resources, living arrangements, transportation access, our spiritual health, and the health of our relationships, both major and minor! You can imagine how some areas being exceptionally strong could help give strength to the person’s stability in their whole life…and also imagine how some failing could easily mean disaster. Since wellness isn’t merely the absence of disease, just as peace isn’t purely the absence of war, ALL these areas of our lives will influence how fully and how joyfully and how WELL we live!

    I hope to see MANY more articles and discussions of spiritual health as related to life with pain and our coping. We all are spiritual beings, and have an innate spiritual side to ourselves. Spirituality, for this example, is defined as the search for who I am, what I am, and why I am! So we each use our individual beliefs to help define these things, mostly through the cultural and religious beliefs we identify with…and the people in our lives. Asking “why” about the areas we struggle with in life is always a deeply spiritual question, and usually comes from our “pain” from some loss or trauma or injustice.

    So when we also have physical pain, the need to spiritually express ourselves and explore how we believe can be amplified and revealing to us…ultimately helping us live more fully, more at peace, and more abundantly within the restrictions and burdens of physical pain. Spirituality, to me, is a major leg of the “wellness chair” when we talk about physical pain and inability to function fully. Working to define and practice our beliefs can be a tremendous help and bring us into community with others of like beliefs.

    As I said…I hope to see more about how spirituality fits in the lives of those here with persistent pain. Right now, my spiritual and emotional exercises and practices are the MOST hopeful part of the day for me…especially with so much going on in our country plus all that is destructive now against appropriate pain care! Maybe sharing our insights can help others…as long as we understand we aren’t talking specifically about religion so much as we are talking about God or a sense of a larger power in our lives. And we must be respectful of each other’s beliefs and realize we are only “experts” on ourselves….and not always even there! In the meantime, I wish you all your personal best…and comfort and joy!

  5. Tim Hamby at 2:25 pm

    Mr. Rose, no doubt is a true patriot and along with ALL of our wounded patriots deserve in the name of patriotism and humanity to be treated SUFFICIENTLY for their chronic pain. We the people who place our faith in the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac can not be ashamed of the Creator of all. We also know not to be ashamed of our Father in Heaven and continue to recognize the influence and blessings on the “framers” of our Constitution. It is unimaginable that people in disabling chronic pain are left to cope with pain the best we can when competent. educated, good physicians can and ARE willing to help but are in fear of licensure suspension or revocation. I continue to pray that God will give strength to the millions of chronic pain patients across our country until wrong is righted. I did not serve in the military but, I love my fellow man so I did public service as a volunteer firefighter in my community for 14 years. I was never paid a dime in my entire time of service. I too have been a chronic pain survivor for 20 years. It is indeed a fight both physically and mentally. I lost my home which I built with my own hands and 100% paid for, due mostly to my chronic pain. My family has had more than their share of disease and injury and the doctor/hospital bills had to be paid. I, like all the people who had a condition that maybe could be corrected with surgery did what the physicians advised. Unfortunately, like many, surgery failed to ease the painful condition that I have developed. Referred to a VERY competent specialist I found enough pain relief to continue to work and and provide for myself and my wife of 39 years. Yes, I too agree that my wife deserves “the most patient spouse ever” award and that would not be enough praise for staying with me for the past 20 years. She too developed a painful condition, fibromyalgia, 5 years ago. I take 60 milligrams LESS of opioid medication now, than I did 6 years ago. I have been blessed to be able to keep working, the ability to keep moving with sufficient medication which in turn is the best physical therapy ever. I reduced my medication to the minimum I could and still cope with the pain. With opioid medication, I am able to stay active and the work keeps my mind from slipping into total clinical depression. We all know what chronic pain can do to even the strongest willed people. I will never understand why the CDC thinks that millions of non cancer chronic pain patients can be sufficiently treated with the same dosage of medication. Regardlesss of what opioid medication is prescribed, “one dosage treats all”. I realize that fear grips those of us that have exhausted all alternative treatment for chronic pain. I have only been this worried one other time in my life. The day my sons pediatrician told my wife and I that our 9 year old son had a “lifetime”, untreatable, kidney disease. Just as we did 26 years ago concerning our son, my wife and I asked for for a special blessing and we got it. I believe that millions of voices now, can achieve what we chronic pain patients need to at least commune with our families and fellow men without suffering.

  6. Robert Dean Rose Jr. at 8:26 am

    Mr. Coghlan,
    Thank you. My faith is very important to me. My God has been with me and protected and provided for me throughout my life. When I fell into the Mediterranean resulting in six compression fractures to the thoracic and lumbar regions of my spine, I was paralyzed for over 18 hours. The Marines and sailors present were unable to explain how after disappearing under the waves, they later found me clinging to the cliff, nearly breaking my fingers to get me off. So many then and since discount my story of the amazing white light which surrounded me while sinking into the murky depths, the sensation that Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior embraced me and whispered “Not yet” before blacking out. That was nearly thirty years ago and if I close my eyes, I can to this day still feel the unconditional love of those moments. God is good. God is great.

    I would also like to share my comments to Cynthia and others, in a another article to shed more my light on my beliefs. Again, I apologize to those tired of the many platitudes non-pain sufferers use to help us or maybe themselves to feel better. I really survive day to day with the knowledge God will never give me more than I can handle and If God brings me to it, He will, with His amazing grace and mercy, bring me through it. In fact, it is my belief that in October 2016 He became tired of my whining and complaining for over two years as I had given up, as well as asking Him on really bad days for to just bring me Home to stop it all. It was then that He kicked me in the ass and gave me new meaning to live for. I now understand I am not in this alone. There are individuals out there, veterans and civilians suffering more than myself and they need a voice. Although I am now pain med free, in my good moments, I am dedicated to helping ALL Americans with the asinine guidelines, policies and propaganda which is causing all the attacks on true heroes like those individuals, veterans and civilians, who continue to sacrifice, work and motivate people by raising awareness about CPP… For now, I will continue ask God to intervene on our behalf. Please join us at Vets Fight Back #vetsfightback . Thank you, take care and may God bless. “Teufelshunde.”

  7. BL at 7:35 am

    Faith can play a major part in how a person manages their chronic pain. Faith can also play a major role in how your doctors treat your chronic pain. The greater and deeper your faith, the better it is. But, this kind of faith needs to be a way of life in all areas of a person life and not just their chronic pain.

  8. Danny at 5:22 am

    The USA owes Mr. Rose a debt of gratitude. I hope he can get the medications he needs to have a bit of a better life. As for his Christian beliefs and the strong faith Mr. Rose obviously relies upon, I can honestly say that my faith has helped me endure an extreme pain for 26 years.

    In the first few years, I was a patient at several pain clinics. Each of these clinics taught biofeedback and relaxation therapy, giving the pain sufferer a tool to use to help “lessen” the tension and anxiety that results from the constant stress of chronic, intractable pain. Being taught by several different people (at the different clinics) helped me to master the techniques and use them to the best of my ability. I still do so, 26 years after my accident.

    My point is that, as a Christian (I thank God for being a forgiving God because I am definitely not one of His best “children”!), I’ve learned how to combine biofeedback and relaxation therapy with prayer. For me, they work together in helping to release the tension in my body that comes from days and weeks of constant #7-#10 level pain. Praying for forgiveness for the anger I have for how my life was suddenly and drastically changed in an instant; praying for others whose suffering I read about in the comments section of the National Pain Report; praying for our country as we go through very difficult and uncertain times. PRAYING.

    The act of praying, in and of itself, helps to release tension and deal with anxiety. In my opinion, this is an example of where science and religion work hand in hand. I believe that biofeedback and relaxation therapy actually do help with the side effects of severe pain. And, for me, prayer helps me to deal with the side effects of severe pain, too.

    Today, I am praying that God will work in the life of retired Marine Rose and for the readers of the National Pain Report.