A top college football coach has a motto for his team: “Pain instructs.” One of his top players sports a tattoo that reads, “Pain Lies.” Each is counterintuitive. They seem silly. We think that pain only hurts. That it must be eliminated at all cost. We might even think that pain is the only truth because we feel its reality. Pain is bad. Maybe not.
Pain is ubiquitous. Always with us in some form or to some degree, pain is never far away. We all have physical pain ranging from inconvenient to excruciating. We also suffer mental or emotional pain because of external events as well as our own errors. And there is certainly spiritual pain which is reflected in the knowledge of eternal condemnation because of our own sins.
We cannot avoid pain. It comes along with the frail, mortal bodies we posses. And unless we can find a way to live without ever making a mistake we will continue to suffer emotionally from our missteps. Certainly the pain of living apart from God is not something we alone can change. Even the righteous man sins and even though forgiveness is certain there is still the pain of knowing we have hurt our Lord and shamed him again ().
So if pain is a part of life, how can we use it to our benefit?
Pain teaches us to rely on Christ
All pain is subject to Christ. In , Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever. In , Jesus heals a young boy possessed with demons that would cause the young man to fall into the fire or into the water. Jesus raised an only child from the dead and healed the deep pain of his widowed mother. In , Jesus promised his apostles a “comforter” or “helper” because of their fear over his departure.
Mankind seems to have an innate understanding to pray in difficult times. Who among us has not been driven to their knees in times of trial? Paul says to “pray without ceasing” (). Like our Lord we will still suffer. But he alone can soften the blows and bring us through any pain.
Pain teaches us to rely on others
I am thankful for my families. I am thankful for my physical family who cares for me and supports me in all struggles. But I am also thankful for the church, the body of Christ (), which is my big family.
The original Christians of were always supporting one another. In fact, within weeks of the beginning of the church the Christians were already targeting the weak among them, the widows, in an effort to meet their needs ( ff). While independence is a fine trait, it cannot meet all of our needs. When suffering, reply upon the brethren.
Pain teaches us how to help others
Can anyone understand the fear of cancer as well as someone else who has suffered through it? Can anyone understand the intensity of despondency of one who has lost a child? As we stumble though our agonies in this life, we learn how to persevere and bear up. We then become well equipped to share with others our understanding and to point them to a better place.
Pain and agony are Satanic tools to crush the spirits of the righteous. Torments and afflictions are demonic items which the devil hopes will separate us from our Lord. The wise man however will use pain as a stepping stone to a better place. Even Paul came to understand the proper place of pain his life ().
Do not fear pain. Accept it and grow though it.
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.
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6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (ESV)
14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. (ESV)
14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (ESV)
11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. (ESV)
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. (ESV)
17 pray without ceasing, (ESV)
18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (ESV)
41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (ESV)
6:1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. (ESV)
7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. (ESV)