Are you getting better?


“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 NIV)

After my baby Kali died, I felt stuck for a long time. Stuck in a time warp, stuck in sadness, stuck in confusion about why it had happened.

But as sure as I was crying out to God, and as sure as He was answering, I still couldn’t hear Him through my tears. I didn’t feel I was making progress in my grief.

So when others would ask me if I were getting better, I never knew how to answer.

Did they really mean,

  • “Are you less sad?” or
  • “Are you missing your little girl less?” or
  • “Are you getting used to having Kali gone?”

No, no, and no.

Grief takes time, usually more time than we’d like, and more time than others expect.

Neither do I know how to respond now when friends ask about certain physical pains, like my back pain, “Is it better?”

No, it’s not better, if you really mean, “Is it less?” And it probably never will be, in this life.

  • But am I learning to live with it better?
  • Am I finding joy, even in the midst of the pain?
  • Am I progressing towards contentment?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Better with Company

When the Perfect Guide leads us, we are getting better because he always has us on the right path.

When the Lord is our shepherd, we have no lack—

  • whether in times of plenty or in times of want,
  • in times of pain or in times of no pain,
  • when we’re aware of it and when we’re not.

While we may never enjoy it or even get used to a road of pain, we can find peace on it because of our divine Companion, knowing the Lord and his provisions are enough.

I did find joy again after Kali’s death, even though it took longer than I wished. The next time I see her, neither one of us will be in pain. That truth makes accepting the other truths in my travels a little bit easier.

Dear Lord,
Even in our pain, sometimes because of our pain, let us open our arms wide enough to accept your presence with us. We are grateful we never walk this path alone.

* * *
originally posted at Chronic Illness Pain Daily Devotionals

If you have chronic pain of any kind, get a daily dose of encouragement from Rest Ministries.

Do you have pain that doesn’t get better in the flesh, but has gotten better in your spirit? (I am thankful my abdominal pain HAS gotten much, much lighter though, praise God!) Please share in the comments.

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16 thoughts on “Are you getting better?

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    First, my deepest sympathy at the loss of your Kali. I have a similar benchmark of comparison in my own life, over 25 years ago, and I still can’t really do more than mention it. My heart goes out to you.

    One of the interesting things I have seen in dealing with an intractable situation – stopped breathing early Sunday, actually – is that there are those who don’t want me to be ‘better’.

    I don’t really resent the situation. First, there’s no point, and second, many people have it much worse.

    But there are folks who seem almost angry at my lack of anger and bitterness. I wonder if it makes it seem, to them, that I’m setting a standard they can’t hope to reach?

    There’s no standard-setting here, and no particular virtue in me. It’s just a situation I can’t change, and the knowledge that by comparison with others, I’m doing OK.

  2. Debbie

    Lisa, I am so thankful your faith has gotten you through the loss of your daughter and the trials you face every day. Your words are encouraging and have made my morning a little brighter and I thank you. God bless you.

  3. Natalie

    I appreciate your perspective. The way you walked through what the question about getting better could really be about–either for the questioner or the hearer–was helpful. Thanks for your perspective and honest words here. They are the most helpful kind!

  4. Alisa

    Lisa, I can’t even imagine the depth of your loss. I pray that God continues to heal every area of your life- mind, body, soul and spirit. I love your perspective though. That in the midst of your pain, you can have peace that is not quite comprehendible. What a testimony of His grace in your life! Linking up with you at Darling Downs.

  5. Barbara H.

    I know what grief was like when my mom passed – I can only imagine how much more intensified it would be with the loss of a child. I never had anyone ask if it was better – I’m thankful. because that’s kind of an awkward question, for reasons you mentioned.

    I have had the same experience with chronic physical problems and not knowing how to answer when people ask if it’s getting better. I never know if they are asking casually or if they really want the details – or whether getting into the details will make me sound like a hypochondriac or entirely too self-focused. And then they kind of forget that you do have chronic issues and don’t ask at all. :-/

    But in either situation, what a tremendous encouragement to walk with our Lord, who knows exactly what’s going on and understands and offers to give grace to help in time of need.

  6. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! Was this a reprint, or your own story? I was a little confused about that, but if this is your daughter, I am so sorry for your incredible loss. Losing a child is the worst kind of pain.
    I think people who have chronic pain, whether physical or psychological, have a very heavy burden. I don’t know about you, but it makes me mourn the days when I didn’t have those problems, and certainly didn’t appreciate my health enough. My ears are still ringing, and probably always will. I am learning to live with it, and sometimes I don’t even notice. I guess that’s progress!

  7. Katie

    Grief has no rules is what I told a friend once. It is messy and hurts but God does sit with us and carry us through it. Matt has several chronic illnesses we live with. May have to check out this site. Thank you Lisa.

  8. Michele Morin

    Lisa, my heart aches for you. We Christians can be an insensitive lot, putting a time limit on “acceptable grieving,” etc. Your words remind me of C.S. Lewis’s experience in grieving his wife, how he felt that the way to God had been “bolted and double bolted” just at the time when he needed Him the most. Thank you for your bold sharing of how it worked in your life, and for patiently living your way back into a new kind of joy.

  9. Betty Draper

    I find myself on the road of grief from losing my Mom, April 9th. Like the fresh dirt on top of Mom’s grace I find my grief fresh at times. And right now it’s kind of dirty, you would not want to walk on it yet, or you would sink in it as you would that rain soak mud. Yet I know it will firm up and grass will grow again when given time and lots of ways to use this God given gift of grief. for me this was spot on Lisa, so glad I stopped by. blessings on you sister in the Lord.

  10. Angela Howard

    Thank you for sharing some of your process through grief. It’s so important to realize that it’s different for everyone and isn’t a formula. Thank you for the link for those suffering with chronic pain. I shared it with a friend. Visiting from #sharinghisbeauty

  11. Jody Lee Collins

    Lisa, how ‘funny’ I should read this today after not coming by for so long. We’ve talked about baby loss before, you and I; our daughter Leah had her second miscarriage and your assessment of the grief process is perfect–it takes longer than we expected and no two paths are alike.
    The other thing–chronic pain–I’ve never had to deal with–until now. The last two months have been full of aches, stiffness, muscle and joint pain, an inability to move like I used to–pull weeds in my garden, etc.–and it’s a bit humbling and puzzling.
    Jesus has told me a few things, 1) He’s not ‘surprised’ by my issues and 2) He’s got it under control. Every once in awhile I think, too, “it’s just pain”, as in “I’m not dying. Which is well, fatal.”
    In the grand scheme of things, I know Jesus is with me.

    I look forward to some answers after I see a specialist on Wednesday.

    Thank you again for this post and for asking. I appreciate you.

  12. Linda Stoll

    Your grief and pain and sorrow are being redeemed as you share your story, as you speak of His presence and the hope He gives, even in the midst of it all.

    Thank you for your vulnerability. You inspire, friend …

  13. Bill (cycleguy)

    While I don’t live in emotional or mental pain, or even spiritual pain, I do have some physical pain which i suspect will never go away. I do not pretend to understand someone who suffered the deep loss you did, Lisa. I just know I can care and pray (even from a distance). But your testimony about God’s faithfulness rings far stronger than my mere words. You experienced it. He keep His word.

  14. floyd

    Much wisdom and love in your thoughtful words, Lisa. I haven’t walked down your path, but I hear you and am beginning to grasp it. That kind of pain is harder than the physical kind.

    The days of tempting and mocking fate has definitely caught up with me. Far too many broken things fused back together with arthritis, too many parts from other people, too much titanium. These things aren’t healing, they’re just mending… healing comes when our Father calls us home.

  15. saleslady371

    It really is true that because of Jesus everything is getting better in our lives regardless of what we see or feel. Yours is an amazing message written from a heart that has been through a lot. I am paying attention.

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