Monday, April 7, 2014

That's What Friends Are For ...

Please pray for my friend, she has had RSD(more information below)for over 20+ yrs. She says, "How I've always described my RSD pain that is 24/7/365 is this: Picture you have a knife in one hand, a hammer in the's just stab-hammer-stab-hammer-stab-hammer....& while that is going on, imagine someone else holds a blow torch to the area!!! THAT is what my RSD feels like!" (Boy...I sure would like to know what I did that was so horrible that God felt I deserved this! Lol!) What can I say to her?

RSD is also referred to as the suicide disease because there is no cure or effective treatment. It's rated on the McGill pain index as greater than the amputation of a digit or childbirth or cancer pain. She (name removed) is a new friend on facebook,she's catholic. I have been praying for her but I don't know the right words to say to her. Whatever you share with me I can share with her. Thank you and God bless you.
These are good questions; heartfelt questions are always good questions.

First lets define RSD pain for everyone.

The following is copied from the following website:


"Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) Syndrome

(Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS))
What is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) Syndrome?
RSD is an older term used to describe one form of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Both RSD and CRPS are nerve disorders characterized by chronic severe burning pain, pathological changes in bone and skin, excessive sweating, tissue swelling and extreme sensitivity to touch. RSD is sometimes called Type I CRPS, which is triggered by tissue injury where there is no underlying nerve injury, while Type II CRPS refers to cases where a high-velocity impact (such as a bullet wound) occurred at the site and is clearly associated with nerve injury. Type II used to be called "causalgia" and was first documented over 100 years ago by doctors concerned about the pain that Civil War veterans suffered even after their wounds had healed. RSD is unique in that it affects the nerves, skin, muscles, blood vessels and bones at the same time.
What are symptoms of RSD/CRPS?
Continuous, intense pain that is out of proportion to the severity of the injury (if an injury occurred) and which gets worse rather than better over time. It most often affects the arms, legs, hands or feet and is accompanied by:
  • "burning" pain
  • increased skin sensitivity
  • changes in skin temperature: warmer or cooler compared to the opposite extremity
  • changes in skin color: often blotchy, purple, pale or red
  • changes in skin texture: shiny and thin, sometimes excessively sweaty
  • changes in nail and hair growth patterns
  • swelling and stiffness in affected joint
  • motor disability, with decreased ability to move affected body part
How is RSD caused?
RSD has no apparent cause. Initially, the condition was thought to be a malfunctioning of the sympathetic nervous system but researchers are questioning this theory. Since it is most often caused by trauma to the extremities, some conditions that can bring RSD about are sprains, fractures, surgery, damage to blood vessels or nerves and certain brain injuries.
How is RSD treated?
Physical therapy is a primary component of treatment. There also are several types of medications that can be used and sometimes elevating the affected extremity may be helpful. There also are surgical procedures that are used in some cases. Treatment needs to be individualized and treatment plans often incorporate several of these measures. Treatment if begun early, ideally within the first three months after symptoms begin, can result in remission. Early diagnosis is the key.
Is there a cure?
Not at this time, but research continues. Advances have resulted in some new and effective treatments."

Here is a source that validates the McGill Pain Index evaluation of RSD

At the end of this post I will also add some helpful links for additional info.
Pain is a terrible thing, I'm sorry that your friend is experiencing it.  When we experience things of this nature, whether they be illness, loss, poverty, etc, we often tend to wonder what we did wrong ... or did at all for that matter ... to deserve this (whatever "this" may be).
I know pain, it is a terrible thing.  But I choose to see it as the man with no shoes.  The old saying goes "I complained about having no shoes until I met a man with no feet." The brutal reality is that I would take the chronic pain I live in any day over not being here for my family.  If I had to choose between my daughter being in pain here or gone in heaven, selfishly I say I want her here.  Am I wrong for that? Some may say yes, but I always promise to be honest in my answers.
I have had to come to terms with this ... pain I mean.  The Bible has many verses that command us to pray for the sick believing they will be healed.  We are never given permission to just resign ourselves to pain as if that is the lot God has given us. There is no Biblical teaching telling us to thank God for disease but we are very specifically taught to thank Him IN everything, including pain.  That is a horse of a different color in my book.  Check out the following verses.

Matthew 10:8: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.

Mark 6:5: He was not able to do a miracle there, except to lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.

Luke 9:2: and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Luke 10:9: Heal the sick in that town and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come upon you!'

Mark 16:17-18: And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name ... they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

There are many scriptures ... these are just a sample ... but we are told to pray for the sick,  Will all recover?  Certainly not.  Can God use sickness to accomplish a purpose? Sure He can.  Does God want us sick? Absolutely not!  Why then are we sick? Well the Bible explains that too.  We're sick because there is death in the world brought in by Adam's sin and strengthened by our continuing in it.

Romans 6 ends with a very familiar verse (23) - the wages of sin is death.  We often misinterpret that to mean that the wages of my sin is my own death ... but that is not true.  The person who dies when struck by a drunk driver may be living in God's righteousness at the moment but it is the drunk's sin who kills him.  The correct interpretation of that verse is that death exists and persists in the world bc there is sin in the world.

Your friend needs to realize and accept that her disease is not a punishment by God for something she has done wrong.  Now it is vitally important for anyone who is suffering to take a good census of actions and thoughts ... we can give a foothold to the enemy by our actions and he certainly packs a punch.  Is it possible that we can open doors ourselves for disease through sin?  Certainly so!  But if that is the case we can also quickly find God's healing by repenting of whatever those actions and thoughts were that opened the door for the enemy ... truthfully this is not so easy bc we do what we like to do.

If the census of self comes back good, then I feel another passage of scripture is extremely important.

James 5:13: Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14: Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

I fight chronic pain.  I was crushed during the Bosnian War and it has served up its dessert menu.  In the last year I have had 20+ procedures and am preparing for my 6th surgery this year.  Yet I still believe God can and will heal me.  I pray for it everyday but it's what I do in the meantime that allows me keep my sanity ... and James 5:13-16 provides the roadmap to success here!  Check it out:

If we are afflicted, we should pray.  Prayer brings peace in the storms of life.  So having the peace of God, which many never experience, makes one's heart glad ... or merry.  It is important to praise God during the worst of life's storms.  It doesn't make the storm go away, it just reminds us that in it we are not alone ... and that the master of the storm is with us and for us.

If we are sick, we must get prayed for! God doesn't promise us instant healing ... He just doesn't.  He does however promise that "the prayer of faith will SAVE the sick.  It is a different word here than used elsewhere (ie Mat 10:8).  The word here means "to save, that is, deliver or protect (literally or figuratively): - heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole." (Strongs)  It is different for the typical word used for heal which means "to wait upon menially, that is, (figuratively) to adore (God), or (specifically) to relieve (of disease): - cure, heal, worship." (Strongs)

Notice in the typical word used for heal (where we get the word therapy from) means to wait upon ... to call upon God's love for His creation ... to relieve a person of their sickness (and the stresses of it ie cook and clean!).  That is not the word used here.

Let's continue ... vs 16 means that by bringing works of darkness (or sin) into light ... by accounting for it and repenting of it, then anything that it brought in we are delivered of ... including sickness and disease but also addiction, etc.

There is no Scripture that promises us instant satisfaction.  But many Scriptures that teach us to bear up those who are sick, meet their needs, continue in prayer for them and with them until their healing is manifested in their body.  This may start at an altar call, but it must continue from there.  Too often we, as ministers, demand that everything be done within service hours ... we may even extend the service a little and we call that "tarrying" but the meat here is in our willingness to continue in fasting, praying, and believing until it is done with the mentality "God I'm holding on to You and I am not letting go until I see Your truth alive in my body!"  This is not a test ... nor it is tempting God.  It is doing what He said to do ... what He taught to us to do.  (Luke 11:5, 18:1-8)

Your friend is fighting more than just pain, she is fighting for her mentality, and even more important her view of God's goodness.  Too often we leave these people alone to suffer.

My advise?
Help her.  Visit her regularly.  Pray for her, fast for her. Have the hard discussions.  See if decisions were made in her forgotten past that opened up doors ... ask the Holy Spirit to bring things to mind.  If there were things ... repent of them.  If nothing comes to mind, reassure her that she, though in pain, has a reason to get up every morning.  Reassure her that God has not placed this on her ... that she has no need to thank Him for the suffering ... but she has every ability to thank Him in the suffering.  The worst of our sufferings are slight in comparison to His on the cross.  The Bible tells us He bore all of our sin, all of our disease, everything wrong the in this world on that cross.  He was our mediator, our sacrificial lamb ... the propitiation of our sins.  That says to me that He felt the combined pain of all of humanity at once .. how over bearing the thought ... and He it joyed Him to do it!

Assure her that there is much she can do ... and help her find it.  I lost the ability to write with a pencil ... it hurts terribly and I have only a little control of it .. but I can type.  Perhaps she lost the ability to use her hands all together ... but she can speak.  I suggest you work with your church to find her some voice to text programs and hardware (easily available) and possible start a schedule of help for her.  If she has to do everything for herself, yet can do nothing by herself without extreme pain, than she has no rest .. and her pain will consume her.  I suggest finding ways to exhaust her mind doing things that are positive and helpful while finding ways to make sure she can eat and has a clean home.

We always see the highest platform of ministry to be the foreign and godless ... but often the grandest stage is right within our reach.  We just have to choose to value the needs of the people we know ... the needs that actually exist.  We don't often like to do that bc that transfers to the world from "what I would do if ..." to the world of "what will I do now ..."

Don't pretend to understand ... chronic pain yields the belief that no one else knows.  Just be a good ear, a great set of hands, and a venue for God's voice and you will see her life changed.  I would also look for support groups for this disease ... people who also deal with it who can offer good advise.

Pray for her when alone, with your church, and in her presence (with simple prayers).  Don't promise on behalf of God.  Don't rebuke her when she cries out against God's seemingly unfairness.  I think a good prescription is a lot of love, hugs, and acts of kindness.  People are almost blind to God when in despair and alone but can usually see Him clearly when in constant and safe comfort.

The best thing any of us can do for a person in pain like this (aside from prayer) is just to be there. If she's just an internet friend, use the tools God has provided on the internet to grow closer.  We have Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime, etc ... make use of that to develop the relationship.  There are delivery companies that can deliver flowers, food, you name it.  Be creative!  Severe pain often is coupled with loneliness due to forced isolation - do everything possible to break that.

My heart breaks for her, and people all over who live in agony.  It is heartless, relentless.. but God can shine through it all and loves to do it through His children.

That's my take anyways!
Don't be confused.  LEARN STUFF!!!
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For more information on RSD/CRPS contact the following organizations:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke
National Institute of Health
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Assn.
Tel: 877-662-7737
American RSDHope Group
Tel: 207-583-4589
American Chronic Pain Assn. (ACPA)
Tel: 800-533-3231
National Chronic Pain Outreach Assn. ((NCPOA)
Tel: 540-862-9437
Mayday Fund (For Pain Research)
Tel: 212-366-6970


  1. Thank you Patrick for doing a thorough job concerning my question about Kimmy. I will continue to pray and reach out to her. God bless you, believing with you for your healing too.

  2. Thanks for posting the question ... it is always a treat to be there for ppl we know and care for. I thought there was some encouraging news jn my findings .. ways to relieve the pain. I hope the best ... please keep us up to date and let her know we are praying amd believing for a miracle!