Pain, Part II: The Great Motivator
"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything."1
Yesterday we noted that all pain is caused by the fact that we live in a broken, sinful world and pain will not be a thing of the past until the Lord Jesus returns and ends all pain for his true followers. In the meantime how do we live with personal pain?
Not so long ago a friend was in our home. She recently learned that she has cancer; she is only in her mid 30s. The same week we learned than one of the pastoral staff from our church just discovered that she, too, had cancer. And in fact, earlier this year we found out that Joy, my wife, had breast cancer and needed a mastectomy. So many Daily Encounter readers write and share their heart-breaking situations. The big question most of us ask at times such as these is, "Where is God when it hurts?"
I don't want to sound over-simplistic, and I certainly don't claim to have all the answers, but for one thing pain is nature's way of letting us know that something is wrong and needs attention. It is a self-protective device. When a bone breaks, it hurts, If it didn't hurt, chances are we wouldn't take proper care of it and it wouldn't heal properly.
Without pain, life would be extremely hazardous. For instance, the first symptom of high cholesterol, which of itself causes no pain, can be sudden death by a heart attack. One of the dangers of leprosy is the loss of feeling and pain. A person with this disease hurts his foot, but because he feels no pain, he has nothing to remind him to protect his wounded limb. He hurts it again. And again. Still there's no pain. Eventually he loses his foot.
Thank God for this kind of pain. It's an impelling force to motivate us to take proper care of ourselves when we are hurting. It is also one of the most effective motivators (and perhaps the only motivator) to cause us to look at ourselves and deal with our personal problems, resolve our past, and grow in maturity. One of the worst things we can do with our pain is to ignore or deny it, and run from it. We need to accept and invest it; first in our own growth and maturity and then in supporting others who are going through the same or similar experiences.2
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to understand the purpose of pain in my life and realize that you want to use it to help me grow and become a better person while Satan wants to use it to discourage me and make me bitter. Help me to choose the higher road and therein become a healthier and more mature person as well as an encourager of others who are experiencing pain. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. James 1:2-4 (NLT).
2. Adapted from How to Mend a Broken Heart, by Dick Innes. Available from www.actscom.com/store/