I am happy to have a guest post! This is from my new friend, Tony Martin who is a pilgrim, sojourner, encourager, and coach.
If you or your teen needs some direction, consider reaching out to Tony. He is not local but can work with you or your teen through video. He can be reached at www.youcanhavehope.com.
Pain is a gift. Isn’t that just about the most counterintuitive thing you’ve ever heard?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because there are lots of hurting folks out there.
Maybe you’re one of them.
Here’s what has me pondering this morning. It’s some ancient script from 1 Peter 4:12-13. It may be familiar to you, and it sort of deals with how pain is a gift:
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 13 Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory.
Really, now, Peter. Really?
Pain is a gift? Rejoice in trials and pain? Rejoice in Jesus’ suffering?
I’m not sure that’s what I signed on for back when I was 11. But that’s part of the deal.
Let’s get some points to think about as we consider how pain is a gift.
God is a present and healing God. He’s right there with you. All the time.
I’m weak. Sometimes I’m shocked at just how weak I am in matters of faith.
I run from pain. Heck yeah. I don’t enjoy it.
But - I need to look into the face of my own pain and suffering. It’s there and ignoring it won’t help.
Pain helps me to share in Christ’s humanity. More about that in a minute. Understand how Jesus responded to pain - that’s what you want to learn how to do.
I draw close to God through pain and suffering.
Consider this: if pain is a gift, then by its nature it identifies and evidences places that need the most healing.
Pain ushers in God. It gives Him an entry point into our lives like no other.
God is the great healer. He wants us to learn that suffering brings humility and makes us more like Jesus. That’s a hard teaching, but feel free to wrestle with it, just as I have.
Humanity runs from pain, y’know? We resist it. We anesthetize it. Medication? Bring it. But it’s only by recognizing pain that we can identify the places in our life that are the most messed up.
Here’s some medical evidence that pain is a gift. Here’s some thoughts about leprosy.
The thought of leprosy terrified me when I was younger. Maybe it was because it was so prevalent in Bible times. I remember seeing movies with leper colonies figuring in the plot. It was just flat-out scary for me.
We’ve come a long way. Leprosy is treatable, and while not eradicated, can be cured like other bacterial infections. There are about 100 cases reported in the U.S. per year.
We think about the disfigurement that leprosy causes, which is bad enough. But one awful result of leprosy is nerve damage - the loss of feeling in hands, feet, and sometimes arms and legs.
Part of that nerve damage means loss of sensation - and loss of any sense of pain.
That might seem like a gift. It’s not.
Those with untreated leprosy can’t feel the sear of a burn. They aren’t aware of cuts on the affected areas. Infection happens and they aren’t aware of it. And victims might succumb to treatable illnesses.
In that case, feeling no pain is not a gift. Pain would be a gift to a leper.
If you’re hurting, then pain is a gift because it leads you to examine yourself. Maybe even ask some hard questions.
If you’re really ambitious, take a sheet of paper. Examine your pain. Take an inventory of what’s hurting right now, and I don’t mean just physically. Jot down your emotional and spiritual pains. Where do you feel bruised and beat up?
Where does it hurt?
Pain can identify the location of an injury. It can show the place of weakness and need.
This is a good thing.
Some of us would rather numb the pain, right?
If you step on a nail barefooted, pain will shoot through the sole of your foot and up into your leg. If it’s a really bad puncture, or if it’s a gash caused by a big piece of glass, common sense would dictate that you need to go see a doctor if it’s bad enough. Heck, you might even need stitches.
If that’s the case, why do we ignore emotional pain?
If the loss of sensation that comes from leprosy were a thing emotionally, then I might want that.
However - if there were no pain and suffering, would I know the source of that suffering? I’d be like a robot, unfeeling and insensitive.
And this: without that pain, I couldn’t experience the pleasures of healing by the most powerful of all doctors. I couldn’t experience the wholeness brought by the Great Physician.
It seems reasonable to pray specifically to God to give you the treatment you need.
God as Healer. That’s what He does. It gets back to showing your mama or daddy where it hurts. It’s the tenderness of that Great Physician that makes life worth living.
This side of eternity, life hurts. Wisdom comes from turning our attention from temporal pain to God’s promise of eternal healing.
This isn’t easy.
I can’t escape this. Fact is, we need to walk into our pain, look into God’s eyes, and ask for healing.
That should be my first thought and my last thought until He comes.