The Gift of Pain
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
Many people believe that pain is God's one mistake. Pain usually gets bad press, but have you ever considered that a wise God created us with an ability to feel pain for a reason?
Dr. Paul Brand knew physical pain is a gift. As he studied the suffering of people infected with Hansen's disease—leprosy—he came to the conclusion that, at least in some cases, pain is vital to our survival.
While the word leprosy may conjure up images of stubby fingers and toes, ulcerated wounds, and distorted facial features, it is not the direct cause for these conditions. Because of pain deprivation, leprosy causes its victims to inadvertently destroy parts of their own bodies. Hansen's disease acts as an anesthetic, numbing the pain cells of hands, feet, eyes, ears, and nose.
While most diseases are feared because of their pain, Hansen's is deadly because its victims feel no pain. According to Dr. Brand, the destruction of facial features and limbs follows because the warning system of pain is gone.
In African and Asian villages where Dr. Brand worked, lepers reached directly into fire to retrieve a dropped potato. Patients at the hospital in India worked, gripping a shovel with a protruding nail; extinguished a burning wick with bare hands; stepped on broken glass. They simply couldn't feel the warning signals telling them to stop.
No wonder Dr. Brand concluded his findings by saying, "Thank God for inventing pain." Pain is both an essential and unavoidable part of life; the art of living is learning how to respond to pain. God uses pain in several ways: to correct us—"It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes" (Psalm 119:71); to construct us—". . . tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character" (Romans 5:3b-4a).
Pain, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, communicates a clear message: something isn't right! The loss of a loved one, a job, physical ability, or any other type of earthly pain has been caused by Adam's sin in the garden, as well as our own sin.
But there is the remainder of the verse in Romans 5:4 that says, ". . . and proven character [produces] hope." Our perspective has to go beyond our lives—it has to stretch out into eternity. That gave the Apostle Peter hope and joy:
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7).
God has promised to set everything right; let God's gift complete its perfect work! And while you wait, give Him glory—while you suffer, honor Him. While you get that which you don't want—and don't get what you do want—exult in Him alone. God isn't finished . . . yet.
Prayer Point: Pray for strength to face the trials that stand in your way, and to withstand the painful consequences of living in a sin-struck world. Then thank God for the "hope" of eternal life.
Extra Refreshment: Revelation 21.
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