Real or Perceived?

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Almost ten years ago I took a short term position as a Physical Therapist Assistant in an outpatient orthopedic clinic. I remember this like it was yesterday. I can be skeptical of people who state they have back pain. With some patients I filtered their back issues and pain through my own experiences having thoracolumbar scoliosis.  Honestly, at times I was so judgmental I would think to myself, “how can it be that bad?!”

Well, it was not long after I started this job that the Lord allowed me to experience back pain in a way in which I cannot describe. It was horrific! I learned empathy real quick, I can tell you that! I remember saying, “Lord, I repent!” as if my cry of repentance would make it go away immediately. The only thing that calmed me was muttering to myself, multiple times a day:

So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLT).

God has also allowed me to experience digestive issues. I know what it is like to be afraid to eat because of pain. There is an emotional toll of knowing that you need to eat to live that gets mixed with the fear of having pain, making the situation more complicated.

Through these two painful experiences God taught me one very important lesson and one very important question to ask Him.

The lesson I learned was that it is easy to see that when someone has their leg in a cast, or their arm in a sling, or a brace around their knee, or using crutches that they have a physical issue. It is NOT easy to visualize a person’s problem when it is internal such as back, GI or neurological pain. We need to ask God to help us listen to a person’s pain rather than being dismissive or judgmental.

The life changing question that God taught me to ask Him was “is this real or perceived pain?” Is my back really hurting or am I being fearful that I will have pain? I have learned that the devil will use my fear of pain to distract me and keep me from stepping out in faith and trying new things. I literally have to ask God if the pain I am experiencing is real or perceived. While most times for me it is legitimate pain, there are times when it is not.

There are numerous times in my life where God has not taken my pain or healed me as I wanted; however, He has most certainly helped me endure. God has given me a greater appreciation for the times when I am pain free, and in my pain He taught me to trust and rest in Him.

Dear reader, I have NO clue what your pain looks like nor what the pain of your loved one looks like. I am in NO way minimizing or trivializing you or your loved one. I do know first hand that the devil loves to keep us worried, fearful and focused on our pain. The devil will NEVER point us to the Lord who will help us process our pain.

Father God, few things are as debilitating as physical pain, and the fear of it. Thank You, Jesus, that You know first hand the debilitating nature of pain. Lord God, I ask that You help us to discern if our pain is real or perceived. Help us to be vigilant and aware without being nervous and fearful. Lord God, help us to have empathy to those who are hurting. Help us to not add to people’s pain. Lord God, thank You that You are with us in our pain. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, give us wisdom, discernment and common sense when it comes to dealing with the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual toll COVID-19 is having on us all. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.



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Blue Collar Theologian

My name is Mandy Sweigart-Quinn, I live in Lancaster, PA and I am a “Blue Collar Theologian.” I love Jesus! I am passionate about His Word (The Holy Bible)! I come alive when I can encourage others in their walk with Jesus (whether by writing or speaking). As a “Blue Collar Theologian” it is my aim to live/practice/work out my Christian hope with sincerity, authenticity and genuineness. As a “Blue Collar Theologian,” I strive to meet people right where they are (“Incarnational Theology”). I graduated in May 2019 from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master's in Biblical Studies. I am a passionate, excited and enthusiastic person! I love flowers, sports and sunsets. Since January 2, 2018 I have had the privilege of being married to Nathan.

22 thoughts on “Real or Perceived?”

  1. Perfect verse, Mandy! I’m praying for your health. We all have our “thorns” in life; whether physiological, persons, or circumstances. But the Triune GOD has a purpose for all our thorns and experiences, including body pain or a psychosomatic one that will ultimately be for His glory. An example is this post. (“,)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Mandy, thank you very much for your prayers! 🙏 You’re welcome also. The Triune GOD is good and in control, we’re still fine and serving Him in the confines of our houses.💻📲 Yes, both the good and the bad, thorns included, GOD does have a purpose for it; just like all the stories in the bible. 🙂👍

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  2. Good helps for perspectives. I have been taught, the hard way, to have far more compassion for others who struggle with health. A great thing, Mandy, to be truly and honestly able to care and comfort others who deal with the same issues in your own life. Always proud of you. God’s grip – Alan

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    1. Hi, Alan! Thank you SO much for your love, care and support! I cannot wait till the day I meet you! I was praying for you in my God time this morning that He would continue lifting your spirit. Alan, I am SO thankful for you!!!! Love and blessings!!!!


  3. Excellent perspective on the pain we cannot see in another person. We honestly never know what someone is going through when our paths cross each day. I’m so sorry for the awful back pain you’ve dealt with. Love and prayers to you my friend!

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  4. Mandy, thanks for this post and prayer! My wife also has scoliosis. A 2018 fall and femur fracture exacerbated her scoliosis symptoms/discomfort to the point that she went on disability last August. She is consumed with this 24/7 and regularly wants to go the the ER because of the discomfort and anxiety (semi panic attacks). Her doctors are trying to help but the problem is complex.

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  5. As my precious “BabyBear” grew up with chronic migraine, a condition her class mates couldn’t see or relate to, this MamaBear would get so angry with the kids – and even a few adults – who would mutter something about her “faking it” to get out of school. – Like this smart girl would rather lie on the couch all day and spend weekends catching up on sleep and homework while everyone else was having fun. But now she’s an adult with a career that helps people in pain, and I know that her experience taught her that just because pain can’t be seen doesn’t mean it’s not real. (She’s VERY good at what she does. 🙂 )

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    1. Hi, Annie! I had massive issues with my knees for years which finally required surgery and rehab. It was actually through my knee issues that my mom suggested I should go to school to be a physical therapist assistant, God totally confirmed this. When I was in PTA school and even practicing full time, I grieved over how many of my fellow classmates and colleagues could not understand pain. Going through my own rehab helped me to empathize and relate to my patients. Sometimes I do this better than others (hence this post!). I know that God has done this for your daughter and He will keep using her experiences to help others. All this is to say, I am absolutely confident that your daughter is VERY good at what she does! I’m also sure she knows how blessed she is to have you for her mama! Love and blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This was a real treat to read Mandy, as a lymphie who has a very fragile back (due mainly to manual labour jobs) I can sympathise with you. It is amazing how often God will use our pain to teach us something, in my case humility. But these are great moments of spiritual blessing in hindsight. God bless you my sister Mandy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Alan! Thank you for your encouragement! I LOVED your post on holiness and your follow up with humility. I commented but I am not sure if WordPress but my comments in spam as I didn’t see them online! I am SO thankful for you!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mandy my precious sister, you are a waterfall of blessings raining on me everytime I hear from you. You are a true Barnabas indeed!

        Liked by 1 person

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