Can Pain Be a Helpful Teacher? — Morning Devotions - Hope 103.2

Can Pain Be a Helpful Teacher? — Morning Devotions

We'd rather avoid the experience of pain, either physical or emotional. But pain plays an important role in our lives.

Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.

By Chris WittsMonday 14 Mar 2022Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 5 minutes

No-one in their right mind wants to be in pain. You know what it’s like to experience pain, especially if it’s intense and excruciating. No-one wants to have that. I think everyone has felt the ache of a stubbed toe, the twinge of a pulled muscle, or the throbbing of a bad headache!

You don’t stub your toe and notice that it hurts five minutes later—you know right away. You may have woken up from a deep sleep with a sudden pain. Chronic pain is quite a complex concept because it’s a condition that affects all aspects of a person’s life, and it can occur at any stage in life.

Born in 2001, Roberto Salazar was a beautiful baby. His mother said he never cried: “He would sleep 23-24 hrs-a-day. He never cried to eat, never cried that his nappy was itching.” By three months of age, though, his parents knew something was wrong. He would eat, was extremely susceptible to overheating, and once he began teething, he began biting his tongue and cheeks to the point of mutilation. The next 2 ½ years were constant torment for the young family. Sixty doctors and countless referrals later, they finally found a specialist who diagnosed the baby with CIPA (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis).

As of 2006 he was one of only 17 people in the U.S. confirmed to suffer from the inherited disease. Unable to feel pain, hunger, or extreme temperatures—victims of CIPA cannot sweat, so they quickly overheat—50% of all CIPA sufferers die by the age of three.

While most of the world spares no expense or effort to avoid pain at all cost, Roberto’s parents say, “A world without pain is hell”. The medical people say pain is a warning signal that something is wrong. We need that ability to feel pain—but not too much. Pain is not a respecter of persons. Rich, poor, single or married—pain is a part of everyone’s life. The subject is not popular and most books offer tips on how to offset the symptoms.

A counter-intuitive thought

The late Jack Benny once received an entertainment award and said: “I really don’t deserve this. But I have arthritis, and I don’t deserve that either.” If we were honest, most of us would say the same—I don’t deserve pain of any kind. But how do we deal with it? Just grit our teeth and get upset? Or do we blame God? I have quite a revolutionary thought for you today: the big lessons of life are learned in the classroom of suffering.

Think about it for a moment. Suffering and pain can take many paths, from physical to emotional pain—it can be deeply personal, and difficult to explain to others. But we know when we are in pain. Pain demands attention, it needs to be acknowledged and embraced before you can move on.

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Sometimes we blame God for allowing the pain in our lives in the first place: I’m a good person—I never intentionally hurt others. Why doesn’t God take away the pain? Remember that you are not facing this alone: “…for God has said, I will never fail you. I will never forsake you. That is why we can say with confidence, The Lord is my helper, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (Hebrews 13:5-6). God loves you very much and doesn’t want to see any of his children in pain. It was not his original plan. But Adam and Eve committed sin and pain entered the human race. But because of Jesus, God has a new plan to help us, and he wants to share the pain you may have.

Have you ever thought to reach out to someone else who is struggling? You’re not the only one in pain. Place your focus on someone else and invest your life in him or her. Find out ways to help them through their struggles. You may discover that your peace of mind is found in being a source of hope for another.

Find people you can talk to about the pain. If it was due to a disappointment acknowledge that loss without minimising the experience. This is a time you may want to isolate yourself, but reach out to people and be honest about your struggle. Talk with others who have gone through similar experiences. When you meet with others who share the same pain and concerns it helps heal wounds.

The role of pain in our lives

The Bible says:

“All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Pain—that sensation we all long to avoid—is actually a great gift from God. It’s pain that lets us know something is wrong. It’s pain that motivates us to turn from dangerous behaviours. Without the help and guidance of pain we would all surely die. If you had no sense of pain you could burn to death for example.

Have you thanked God for the role that pain plays in your life? As much as you think you’d be better off without it, a pain-free life would be a living hell. No pain is alike—we must all walk the journey and path that God has for our lives, yet God promises that there is a purpose in all pain. We can press on each day knowing that our God loves us and wants to use the hurt and pain in this world to bring him glory. Be honest with yourself and have faith in God despite the pain.

We read in The Message version of James 1:2-8:

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.