Grateful for Pain
WHAT!! Thankful for pain? You’ve got to be kidding! Yes. We actually need to be thankful for pain! Pain is not an enemy, it is a gift. Right now some of you are thinking that I am nuts. Read on!!
Leprosy patients lose sensitivity to pain. Walking barefoot brings on cuts and bruises that are not noticed. Infection sets in with disastrous results. Rats chewing on fingers or ears while the person sleeps are not even noticed. Fingers and toes can be amputated without the patient feeling it. Boiling water spilled on you wouldn’t hurt. There are no warning signals, no alarm bells ringing in the brain. The message doesn’t reach the brain. This tells us that it is the brain that senses the problem and declares its existence by using pain. We need the warning message to avoid disastrous consequences.
We are aware that many people have severe, ongoing pain from a variety of causes. They don’t need ongoing messages about pain. Nor does it help for them to be told to look on the bright side, it’s a wonderful life. All of us probably know people in that condition – my wife was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 14 years ago and it is horrible and very frustrating for her. We feel for them. So what is the role of painkillers? If they are used without also dealing with the problem it is like turning off a smoke alarm and ignoring the advancing fire. If it alerts us to the problem and we deal with it, or don’t need the message repeated, then it is fitting to use a pain killer because the message has been heeded.
Physical pain is not the only kind that affects us. There is relational pain. Broken relationships may result in broken hearts or even ruined lives. Our conscience sends warning signals which, if ignored, will allow the relational problem to fester. On the positive side, this tells us how soothing, healing and uplifting good relationships are.
Our body is equipped to build up a resistance to some forms of pain. Guitar players develop callouses on fingertips and it no longer hurts. Feet develop hardened soles when used constantly barefooted. These are positive things. Relationally we can also become calloused to the pain inflicted on others by bullying, constant criticisms or even violent acts. In an extreme cases, serial killers and mass murderers lose the sense of guilt or compassion. These are very negative results. We need to heed relational pain.
Yes, we definitely need to be thankful for much of the pain that comes our way. It carries the message that there is a problem that needs fixing or the consequences can be huge, whether physical or relational.
But it is tough be thankful for the message pain is sending.