Let me be honest. I don’t like pain. At all. And I tend to avoid its possibility if I can. You?
I don’t climb on roofs if I can help it. Why? Well, not because I’m afraid of heights, although they can make me a bit nervous. Actually, I’m afraid of falling—or rather, hitting something hard and unforgivable when I fall.
When my husband owned a motorcycle, crashing was never far from my thoughts and made riding with him less than enjoyable. (You know, aside from the incessant tangles the wind created in whatever bits of my hair wasn’t covered by the helmet.
And although a lot of bugs look creepy to me, it’s their unpredictability and the irritation that results from bites or stings that bothers me more than the insect itself.
Nope. If I can sign a waiver to live without pain, I’ll take it. Please.
Pain is fascinating
Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.~Mary Tyler Moore
In writing a book about thriving in suffering, I dug deeper into this whole topic of pain. What I learned about its function in our lives is fascinating.
Okay, I like research.
Truthfully, though, I learned that pain is not our enemy! In fact, God designed it purposely to serve us just like he did every other part of our body.
In his book Where Is God When it Hurts?, Philip Yancey writes,
“In a thousand ways large and small, pain serves us each day, making possible normal life on this planet. If we are healthy, pain cells alert us when to go to the bathroom, when to change shoes, when to loosen the grip on a mop handle or rake, when to blink. Without pain, we would lead lives of paranoia, defenseless against unfelt dangers. The only safe environment for a painless person is to stay in bed all day … but even that produces bedsores.”(Page 46)
When pain functions break
Mr. Yancey spent some time talking to the doctors who study and work with those with congenital indifferences to pain. In other words, those who live life with broken pain functions.
Think about raising a child whose pain receptors and signalers are not working. How do you convince them of the dangers of a hot stove or a sharp knife?
What about teenagers or young adults who are hard headed and insist on learning things the hard way? They could push through a job with a sprained ankle or dislocated shoulder simply because they didn’t feel it and no one around them noticed.
Persistent headaches that would send the rest of us to the doctor for answers would be ignored if we didn’t feel the pain to alert us to the possibility of something being wrong, perhaps terminally so.
We need pain
We need pain in our life, as unpleasant as that is to admit.
But can you consider the possibility that without pain, we’d also miss out on pleasure? Not only does the body use the same passageways to convey both positive and negative sensations to the brain, but think about some real-life situations.
Can someone who’s never pushed through the pain and discipline of learning to run understand the joy in crossing a marathon’s finish line?
Can someone who didn’t return time and again, submitting to the agonizing exercises of a physical therapist know the joy of tossing their crutches to the side and walking unassisted across the room?
Everywhere a greater joy is preceded by~Augustine of Hippo
Perhaps our problem isn’t so much with pain as it is with our perspective of pain. Maybe, we need to quit disparaging its presence in our lives, and instead consider its blessing. Yes, pain alerts us when something is wrong.
But pain also gives us the opportunity to do something to make it better.
Lori married full of hope for the future, but then life started throwing curve balls at her faster than she could take the hits. Can you relate?
Deployment changed him, and she doesn’t know if she can live with it.
After her husband returns from a deployment to Saudi Arabia, Lori Braxton begins noticing little differences in his behavior. He’s withdrawn, moody, and can’t sleep. Could it be the stress of military life after the 9/11 attack on New York? Maybe it’s the new assignment in Montana or the financial problems he ignores. Perhaps it’s forces she can’t see and doesn’t know how to fight, or maybe she’s a bigger part of the problem than she wants to admit.
What is God doing? Is He even paying attention?
Lori tries to attend church and do what God asks, but the truth is she doesn’t really hear Him speak. Between money strains, pregnancy hormones, and young ones underfoot, Lori spirals into depression.
What good could God possibly bring from the mess surrounding her?