Growing Spiritually Through Pain

Walter Anderson was energized by the work he did and the people he surrounded himself with. Active in his church, family and business, dedication and persistence ruled his life and were at the core of everything he pursued. When Walter started suffering from intense chronic pain after a routine knee surgery, he tried to attack his illness with the same ferocity he would apply in other aspects of his life, but all his efforts proved unsuccessful.

In 2010, Walter came to me for a routine appointment and I suggested that he spend a weekend off his medication to recalibrate his pain at a lower level and reduce dependency on his medicine. Incredibly, what followed was an 80 percent drop in pain levels and steady recovery, something Walter could only chalk up to a miracle.

Regardless of the cause behind Walter’s improvement, research shows spiritual or religious beliefs can greatly improve the condition of a patient with chronic pain. One major study concluded, “Religious coping is among the most common strategies used to deal with pain.” Even religious skeptics, when in pain, often show an interest in praying for themselves, having others pray for them, and attending a religious service.

The scientist in me knows that belief can motivate, inspire and provide the foundation and inspiration for existence and survival. It is energy for life. It can be the spiritual spine to resilience. It provides an understanding. It can be righteous and good. It provides a reason and explanation and can lead to acceptance.

Regardless of one’s beliefs, love, compassion, giving, and relationships are within the reach of all of us. If you are a religious person, let your beliefs guide you through pain, allowing spirituality to reduce your pain and your pain to increase your faith. If you’re neither spiritual nor religious, you can still cultivate the attitude that all the great religions of the world promote:


You can learn more about how spirituality and religion can help chronic pain sufferers like Walter Anderson cope in my forthcoming book, “The Painful Truth,” which will be released in September 2015.

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