Focus: The value of pain
Philippians 1:6 (NKJV) Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
What kind of pain are you coping with today? Is it physical? Or emotional? Or both? I remember reading that 80% of all illness is related to emotional issues. That’s not to say physical illness that is related to an emotional issue isn’t real —but it shows that our physical and emotional health can be directly related.
It’s common for a person who is chronically depressed to also have problems with chronic illness and pain. By the same token, chronic pain can cause depression. Knowing these things doesn’t make the pain or depression any less real, either—but it might lead us to some discoveries and conclusions.
Pain is a purifier. Pain is like a refiner’s fire. It is one of the things that could be classified as a ‘fiery trial’. While we know that trials are allowed into our lives to cause our faith to be strengthened—we feel anything but stronger in the midst of it all.
Most people get up in the morning with the attitude that they could benefit from having something to eat and drink for the purpose of filling their stomach and getting the energy they need in order to face the demands of the morning.
Some people also have a consistent habit of doing physical exercise—running, walking, bicycling, weight or resistance training, swimming, kayaking—whatever kind of exercise or sport helps them with physical fitness.
I doubt if anybody gets up in the morning and decides they need more trials so their faith will get stronger. That kind of thing is just not what people hope for.
When you are in the process of eating a delicious meal—you might have the desire to slowly savor the taste of the various foods you are enjoying. You might even pause between bites to allow yourself to fully appreciate the array of flavors and make the experience last.
As you engage in physical fitness activities, your appetite for exercise can increase. As you feel your strength increasing, it can make you want to work out more often and for longer periods of time.
No matter how much testing a person has gone through, it wouldn’t be normal for someone to want a trial to last as long as possible so they could fully appreciate every part of the painful process.
The strength that comes from a painful trial, is just as vital to our development as the strength that comes from the food we eat and the exercise we do. Pain is not pleasant and it’s not something we would naturally welcome, but it is beneficial and it does have value if we endure pain with the right attitude—knowing that the good work God has begun in us will eventually be completed.
It’s not wrong to pray for pain to end. Sometimes God wants to show us that we have the power to pray for our own healing. Other times, He may want to reveal His strength to us in our weakness, also.
Another purpose of pain is to cause us to appreciate the absence of it. Pain is something we don’t give much thought to—until we own it. After going through a season of pain, we become much more sympathetic toward others who live with pain of their own. Several years ago I broke my left arm. Besides breaking both the radius and ulna, chipping a bone in my wrist, and tearing a tendon—I was in two different casts and two different braces from April through August, in Florida. For one thing, I never fully appreciated how much work my left arm did. I have to admit I gave my right arm far more credit than my left arm until that experience. I never knew how inconvenient it was to be in a cast from your hand to your elbow. Simple things were almost impossible to me during those months.
I also learned that the pain isn’t necessarily ‘over’ when the cast comes off. I was in considerable pain for a long time afterward. Some tasks are still awkward. Since then, I never see a person in a cast or brace without feeling true compassion. The pain I experienced was intense and the effects were long term, but I learned that a person with an injury needs compassion. When we have experienced pain—we can give compassion and have an instant bond with someone else who is suffering as we have suffered. Their pain doesn’t have to be exactly like the pain we have felt in order for us to reach out to them in their time of need.
Declaration: I will find new strength by searching for the value in my own pain and how I might use it for a good purpose.
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