On a recent episode of Your Hope Filled Perspective podcast, I had the opportunity to chat with Jen Roland about maintaining hope despite chronic illness and pain. If you missed that episode, you can listen to it here [Maintaining Hope Despite Chronic Illness and Pain – Episode 146]. We’re both on this journey and know so many others who are as well, so I asked Jen to share more of her wisdom here about how to change your mindset when you can’t change your situation. Even if you don’t struggle with chronic pain, this is a great post because we all have those times when we can’t change our situation, but we can choose how we respond to it.
How to Change Your Mindset When You Can’t Change Your Situation
By Jen Roland
I read the Bible from cover to cover for the first time in 2014. Each week, my small group met to discuss what we read, share what we learned about God’s character, and reflect on how we could apply the scripture to our lives.
Since we followed a chronological reading plan, we spent a few days in Genesis and then switched over to Job. As I read, I kept a journal where I wrote down my questions and insights. On the first page, I wrote:
Why would God allow Satan to inflict pain on Job? And, why is God so harsh in His conversation with Job?
From my narrow perspective, torturing Job seemed cruel. I couldn’t understand why God would give Satan permission to destroy Job’s livestock, family, and health just to prove to him that Job worshipped God for the right reasons. A God who stands by idly while His children suffer conflicted with the good, loving image of God I had formed growing up.
I had to force my way through the rest of Job, trusting that as I continued to read the Bible and call on the Holy Spirit to help me make sense of it, He would reveal its meaning. Little did I know that six years later, God would reveal powerful truths from this book that would help me persevere through one of the most difficult periods of my life.
A Divine Invitation
“I’d like each of us to speak on a stronghold in our life and a divine weapon God has given us to fight against it,” she said.
Immediately, I knew what I would speak about. Pain.
I had been invited to join a panel of speakers to share at the Armed & Dangerous Women’s Conference at my church. Based on 2 Corinthians 10:4, the mission of the conference was to heighten awareness of the power within us to demolish strongholds in our lives.
For the past two years, I had been experiencing burning pain that began in my feet and spread up my legs. It was intermittent at first, but became constant, bringing with it a lot of fear and anxiety. At the time of the conference, my pain was still undiagnosed.
My “divine weapon” to battle my pain was the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4
While writing my message, God revealed that the biggest source of my fear and anxiety was not my situation—it was the way I was thinking about it.
Pain wasn’t the stronghold, nor was it something I could control. The story I was telling myself about the pain was the stronghold.
I had allowed the enemy to whisper lies about myself, my situation, and God that I began to believe. Lies like “I shouldn’t have to endure this pain,” “I am a burden to others,” and “I’ll never be able to fulfill God’s calling for me now.” When I received an official diagnosis of small fiber neuropathy—a chronic condition caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system—lies like “I am being punished,” “This pain will never go away,” and “I’m not strong enough to handle this,” were added into the mix.
One by one, as I immersed myself in God’s Word, God began to reveal these lies for what they were—false internal narratives that stood in opposition to Jesus and held me back from living the full life He promised (John 10:10).
I’ve learned the enemy’s lies can be subtle—a magnification, overgeneralization, or personalization of the truth. Disguised as such, we adopt them as facts, propelling us toward anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and shame. These are the strongholds—faulty mindsets and unproductive thought processes that occur when we allow the whispers of the enemy to speak louder than the voice of God.
Rewriting Our Internal Narrative to Align with the Word of God
Whether we’re reading the Bible, observing the actions of others, or trying to make sense of our experiences, we bring our own ideas about what is true to the table. Our assumptions are often incorrect—reinforcing worries, fears, and deep-rooted insecurities rather than accurately reflecting the situation.
These cognitive distortions occur subconsciously, affecting our emotions, behavior, and quality of life. They can sabotage our relationships, health, and spiritual growth if we let them. The good news is that we are empowered to recognize, challenge, and change them! This renewing of our mind is what transforms us, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit in us as we fix our eyes on God (Romans 12:2).
For today’s post, I’m focusing on the three main lies I believed about pain. (To dive deeper into this topic, you can download my free resource, 10 Lies We Believe About Pain and the Scriptural Truths to Replace Them.)
Lie #1: I shouldn’t have to endure this pain.
Truth: Suffering is part of human existence. None of us are immune to it, but we can have peace in the midst of it by trusting God has a greater plan at work.
Scripture: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Prior to my diagnosis, I was a healthy 39-year-old. I ate well and exercised, didn’t drink or smoke, and had no previous medical history. Yet, I have neuropathy, a disorder caused primarily by diabetes complication, poor nutrition, chemotherapy, alcoholism, or autoimmune disease. It didn’t seem fair, but that’s because I viewed my pain as a punishment.
God does not guarantee us a life that is comfortable, easy, or pain-free. In fact, Jesus tells us, in John 16, that the Christian life is hard. Preceding His crucifixion, He tells his disciples He will be leaving them, He is going to suffer, and they too will suffer. However, He also invites them to have courage, promises to send a Helper (the Holy Spirit) to guide them, and assures them that their grief will turn to joy that no man can take away.
Recognizing suffering as part of the human condition prevents us from feeling discriminated against when times are tough. We expect life to be difficult, depend on God daily for strength, and discover that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). God’s plan may not be what we would have chosen, but we can trust He will work all things for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). His purpose is for us to become more like Jesus, and suffering is one of God’s greatest shaping tools.
Lie #2: I am a burden to others.
Truth: Being in physical or emotional pain doesn’t make you needy, annoying, or helpless—it makes you human.
Scripture: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Before pain management, the burning in my legs was so intense that I couldn’t stand up for ten minutes. I was put on bed rest for three months and told not to drive, bend over, exercise, or lift anything more than ten pounds. My husband took on the grocery shopping and errands, in addition to working full-time, and I had to arrange for friends to drive my kids to their activities.
Needless to say, I felt like a burden, but the Holy Spirit used Galatians 6:2 and Matthew 11:28-30 to help me see things differently.
Your pain may be a burden—but you are not.
God doesn’t want you to carry this burden alone.
Human suffering is universal because it was meant be shared.
We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us not because we can do it on our own, but because we are willing to lay down our pride, admit our weaknesses, and invite them to draw us closer to Christ and community (Romans 8:37). Allowing others into our story and asking for help is not burdening them—it is gifting them with the opportunity to live out their faith.
While pain and suffering are difficult, they do not define us. They don’t detract from our worth, purpose, or ability to live a rich and meaningful life. Remember that you are loved, valued, forgiven, and chosen not because of anything you have done (or did not do), but because of who God is and what He did for you.
Rest in that truth, and let Jesus lighten your load.
Lie #3: I’ll never be able to fulfill God’s calling for me now.
Truth: God doesn’t make mistakes. This is His plan for me. I can either learn from and grow through the struggle, or I can try to run from or fast forward through it. The latter will leave me frustrated and exhausted, and I could miss what God has for me here. The former will draw me into the arms of my Savior, where I will be transformed.
Scripture: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:2-3
For seven years, I encouraged others to live healthier lives through my work as a wellness coach, personal trainer, blogger, and speaker. As my pain became chronic and the heart of my ministry felt like it was slipping through my fingers, God gave me the realization that my ministry was not based on my physical abilities. It was about sharing my story to help others learn and grow while leading them to a closer relationship with God.
Our “purpose” is to know, love, and serve God on Earth by using our gifts to serve others. If my physical health declines, but I come to know Christ more intimately in the process, I am fulfilling my calling. As I stay connected to the Vine and bear Godly fruit that builds up the Kingdom (e.g. love, joy, peace), I am fulfilling my calling. When I surrender the things I can’t control and rely on God’s strength to sit at the computer and write (which increases my pain), I am fulfilling my calling.
God will speak to me in my pain and make Himself known in my words.
He will help them minister to others in ways that would not have been possible had I followed my plan.
I can trust that the God who knows me best knows what’s best for me.
Since my diagnosis, my readers have commented that my testimony has gained credibility. It is easy to praise God when things are going well but praising Jesus in pain and suffering provides a case for Christianity that is not easily forgotten.
One woman said I “inspired her to take better care of her temple and live victoriously instead of as a victim of chronic pain and illness.” Others shared that reading my story helped them feel less alone, adopt a new perspective on pain, and continue to persevere.
Never doubt that God has you here for a reason. Slow down and look for His treasures in the darkness as you move forward with the plan He has ordained for your life (Isaiah 45:3). God is writing a story of wholeness and redemption, and He has something for you on every page.
Life-Changing Lessons from Job
My struggle with chronic pain took me back to the Book of Job. This time, I saw it through fresh eyes. I witnessed the turmoil that resulted when Job tried to make sense of his pain through his limited worldview, and I understood. My incessant search for answers increased my anxiety and prevented me from experiencing God’s comfort.
Like Job, God brought me to the realization that I needed Him more than I needed an explanation. We are not promised answers, but God assures us He is near to us in our pain (Psalm 34:18). When we surrender our fears and what we think we need to be content, we will find that Christ is enough. His grace is sufficient, and we gain strength through trusting His promises.
Job’s ability to break free from his strongholds—doubt, fear, anxiety, and distress—began with his encounter with God. Ours does too. When sabotaging beliefs take up residence in our mind, the first step is to notice them without judgement. The Book of Job shows us that even the “blameless and upright” must wage war on their thoughts (Job 1:1). Struggling with fear, doubt, anxiety, or depression doesn’t make you a “bad person”—it makes you human.
God gave us His Word to battle and defeat the lies. Once we identify them, we can search the scriptures for truths that counteract our cognitive distortions. Then, we meditate on them day and night by writing them, thinking them, and confessing them until the Holy Spirit helps us move them from our head to our heart (Joshua 1:8). Through His power, we are able to rewrite our internal narrative to align with God’s promises. Our default thoughts are no longer lies, but truth. When we do this, we are His disciples indeed. We will know the truth, and the truth will set us free (John 8:31-32).
What mindset do you need to change? We’d love to hear in the comments below.
In conjunction with this blog post and the podcast interview, Jen is offering my readers a free resource on how to battle lies from the enemy: 10 Lies We Believe About Pain and the Scriptural Truths to Replace Them
Jen Roland is a writer, speaker, coach, and women’s ministry leader with a passion for walking alongside others toward wholeness. Through her website, workshops, speaking, and coaching, she helps others implement positive lifestyle practices (e.g. nutrition, movement, mindfulness) and develop a deeper relationship with God. Since her neuropathy diagnosis, Jen’s ministry has focused on serving those with chronic pain and illness. She provides them with support and resources to reduce pain, overcome fear and anxiety, and improve their quality of life.
Connect with Jen: Website / Facebook / Instagram
The narrative we tell ourselves is often false. It took me years to realize this and then time to change. If our stories do not align with God’s truth and his story, then we are operating with a false narrative, and it will influence everything in our life. For years I thought God was waiting for me to mess up or would reward me only after I did things for him. And yet that is false. We need to be faithful as parents to teach our kids about false narratives and help them build true ones.
This is so true. I have multiple sclerosis and some days it is a bear to do even a little house cleaning. However, God gave me the desire to write a long time ago and through that I have persevered and shared a great deal with people. I can manage that most days even when I hurt because it is something I love to do. God is amazing and will work through and with you for many great blessings for yourself and especially for others.
This is a wonderful post. A very timely reminder that the enemy is devious and looks for any crack in our armour.
This post resonated with me as I just wrote a post on Job myself. If anyone had a reason to ask questions, it surely was Job! This >>> “God brought me to the realization that I needed Him more than I needed an explanation. We are not promised answers, but God assures us He is near to us in our pain.” So true. May we cling to Him and trust Him, even in the difficulties.
I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in October. Needless to say my path in life has change considerably. I have felt very fortunate that I have responded well to my treatment regimen and that emotionally and mentally I have been able to recognize that this is God’s plan for me and I have been very accepting of it. I will, however, be having a stem cell transplant soon and that part of this journey has had me feel more doubt and questioning of the unknown.
This blog was such a blessing to me today to read. So many things were on target to where I am with this part of my journey. And several things I have prayed about, even last evening. The whole writing resonated with me this morning, but this one sentence really took ahold of me: Struggling with fear, doubt, anxiety, or depression doesn’t make you a “bad person”—it makes you human. I have really struggled with this because I know that I am supposed to trust and this part of the journey has made that a little more difficult to the point that I would feel guilty for letting it creep into my mind.
I also have prayed for God to lead me to a place where I can use my experience to help others. I’m still not sure if, when, or how that will happen, but I do feel confident that I will recognize it when the time comes.
Thank you again for blessing me with this blog post today!