I was coming back from the pharmacy with a packet from the prescription that I wanted and I noticed the packet had these words, I don’t have time for pain.
Of course, it was promoting a specific pain killer, but the words caught my attention: I don’t have time for pain. Who does? Who likes pain anyway? I don’t think anyone really does. It’s not pleasant and causes lots of issues for us.
I guess I’ve been very fortunate. I have never had chronic pain, but I know many have. It is nearly impossible to really understand what someone with chronic pain has to endure every day unless you’ve had to endure it too. Pain is a very common condition. What I have read indicates almost one-third of Australians are in pain, with more than one in five saying their pain is constant. It seems to happen as we get older, and women are more likely to be in pain than men. The most common pain is back pain, as is the shoulder, neck and head.
It seems very unfair to have pain. When the late Jack Benny was given an award, he said to the crowd, “I really don’t deserve this. But I have arthritis, and I don’t deserve that either.”
Suffering Emotional Pain
While I acknowledge that physical pain is real, I want to consider another type of pain—emotional pain that many suffer as well. We’re not fond of pain, or even slight discomfort. We rebel at the suggestion of it, recoil at the sight of it, and reject the suggestion that it might be good for us.
But the lessons of life are almost always taught in the classroom of suffering—whether you’re ‘suffering’ through an exam at school, dealing with the excruciating pain or disease, or the heartbreak of grief. There are many aspects of life that cause difficulty and suffering. Let me say there is much about pain I do not understand:
- Why do some suffer and others don’t?
- Where is the fairness in all this?
American author Timothy Keller puts it very well in one of his books:
No matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable with friends and family, and successful with our career—something will inevitably ruin it.
Chronic pain can make us feel isolated and helpless, especially if its cause is an illness or physical condition for which there’s no cure or effective medical treatment. The worst thing we can do is become isolated and withdraw from people and family, and shut ourselves off from others.
Unfortunately, some do that. Then, as a society, we tend to label people in light of the pain and suffering they have experienced: the woman with cancer, the tornado victims, the man whose mother has dementia, the victim of sexual abuse. Such labels can lead to a loss of identity for those so named. Pain is very personal, and we should not label the sufferer.
(Read I Don’t Have Time for Pain – Part 2)