How Gratitude Helps Roberta Messner Cope with Chronic Pain

Roberta Messner shares how the support and encouragement of others—and the gratitude it engendered—helped her cope with chronic pain.


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Hi Guideposts, I’m Roberta Messner.

The most important thing I have actually learned on the journey of pain and healing, I’ve learned through sciatica. That was not a welcome visitor, I will tell you.

I had been divinely healed from a lifetime prison of pain, and I thought my life was going to be just seamless from then on out. No problems, everything would just go swimmingly. That did not happen.

Now, in the past I’d had all this intercranial pain and facial pain, sciatica steals you. You are a prisoner in a chair, a bed, whatever. You cannot get out of pain. So what happened with sciatica was, pain made me pause. I could not move like I did before, and I had to think.

I began to just let myself go back in time, and I would think of a really difficult time on a pain journey that helped me, and it would always be a person. There were real unexpected people sometimes, and yet they can turn around your life in just an instance.

And all during Covid, every day, I wrote a letter to one of those people who helped me at a critical time. Sometimes it was the first time I had ever said thank you, because I didn’t even know until I developed sciatica that I didn’t even acknowledge the blessing. And so I did that everyday, and sometimes I gave people a second thank you.

Unknowingly, what happened was gratitude tapped into my being. That is the most profoundly life-giving thing there is, if we can just be grateful. This really has been a key for me, that you just go back and realize you were never alone. And really, you will never be alone.

And that has really taught me to really trust God in those unanswered questions. To trust that He is going to send the exact people we need. Just as people, earth angels, whatever you want to call them, showed up at the right time way back when, they are going to right now and in the future. And then the next thing that happens is, you realize that you have the power to be that person for another person.

You never know a life that you will touch in just one comment, and to just realize the stunning power of that, I think that is the most important thing, if you have to live with pain.

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