I never imagined my fibromyalgia would help me serve refugees. But chronic pain is something we both understand.
“It’s just the stress of being a college student,” the doctor assured me. “Try to get some more rest and you’ll feel better soon.”
“Your blood work came back completely normal,” another doctor said. “Have you considered going to therapy? Because to me, it sounds like you might just be depressed.”
I had been bouncing around from one doctor to another for two years, trying to find a medical explanation for the pain I felt in every joint and muscle of my body during every minute of every day. Sports medicine doctors told me I had overexerted myself as a dancer in high school. Chiropractors told me that regular adjustments would relieve my pain. Internists instructed me to try gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and processed-sugar-free diets. But none of them could find any abnormalities in my body to explain why I was in pain.
Finally, one doctor implied what the rest may have been thinking: that the pain was all in my head. I was devastated. Doctors—the people I most needed to help me cope with my very real pain—refused to believe me. I was studying to be a Bible translator, but I could barely make it through a day of classes before collapsing in my dorm room early each evening. Why? I asked God over and over. What was the point of this pain? And worse, why would no one believe it was real? Sometimes God’s purposes are not clear in the moment, and this was one of those moments, but over the next several years, I would begin to catch glimpses of how God could use my pain to comfort others.
During the years that my symptoms and concerns were being callously ignored by medical professionals, I had no idea that every day women across the US and around the …
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