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I have been dealing with a lot of lower back problems for the past 3 weeks. It started off pretty mild. Usually when I hurt my back, and I have done this on three different occasions in the past 5 years, it always occurs by me doing some strange activity and it hurts slightly the moment of the initial injury and then throughout the day I feel uncomfortable, and then the next morning I awake to find my back completely frozen and ridged.

The first time this happened I was home alone and it was one of the more frightening things I have ever experienced. Imagine waking up and not being able to bend your back without excruciating pain. First, there is no way to get out of a normal height bed. I tried several times until finally when I thought I would make it up, the pain struck me so hard that I went straight to the floor. I tried to get dressed like an idiot and when I realized that socks  and shoes would be impossible, I called in sick. I was stuck there until I someone came to my rescue. Sorry, but it’s been a while and I don’t remember if it was my wife, mom, or dad. But someone got me to the Doctor and I got drugs and about 8 visits to a physical therapist and a month later, I was back to normal.

This time though, I don’t know what caused it. That might be because I was already seeing a chiropractor that I have been seeing since the last time a year ago when this happened and that kept it from flaring up as bad. This time it seems different. It built up from a sore back to full blown muscle spasms and pain that makes you hope you black out. I already seeing the chiropractor and it was helping but it seemed to only stave off the pain for a few hours and then it would build back up and 10 hours later I would be almost immobile. For the past 2 weeks it has been near intolerable. I am able to get around because I am taking prescription pain meds, but when they wear off, the pain just starts coming back.

I’m sure this will get worked out, but it’s been long enough now that I’m realizing things about pain and how it effects you psychologically when you experience pain for a prolonged period of time. I go through moments of deep depression, I’ve had outburst of frustration at inanimate objects, been pretty snappy to my wife and kids when I normally wouldn’t be. I had always thought that I had complete control over my attitude and focus. I am probably one of the most patient people you could ever meet. I can stand in line for long periods of time at the grocery store and be behind the most annoying, slow people, and it rarely, if ever, get’s to me. I have always thought of myself as finding contentment in any situation. But I’m realizing that everyone has their limits and maybe I’m not as content and self controlled as I had always believed. Maybe I just had it so good, that a few bad moments couldn’t put me down. I’m learning that the true test of your character is how you handle life at it’s worse when hope is distant. I think of Job from the bible. I know a little back pain is no comparison, but I just think there is a difference between what most Christians consider a trial and what a trial truly is. If God really wants to test your character, then it won’t be that bad day you had, or the one cranky customer that yelled at you. It will be an extended period of time when the hope of this passing is fading and the reality of your situation puts you in a position where you have to accept it. I know that if this is God testing my character, I haven’t done well. But if it is a test, it’s one I will learn from and I also know there is grace sufficient to cover my weakness.