My daughter’s teeth are overcrowded, coming in at angles instead of straight. Because of her young age, her dentist recommended she start using a myobrace (think retainer on steroids) at night and for one hour during the day. Having a great aversion to pain and all things uncomfortable, she will still have nights of tears. It’s not the most comfortable brace, but the pain is producing results: it’s leading her mouth in a better direction and hopefully preventing more severe (full wire braces) methods of alteration down the road.
“Pain is the reminder that the real enemy is trying to take us out and bring us down by keeping us stuck in broken places. Pain is the gift that motivates us to fight with brave tenacity and fierce determination knowing there’s healing on the other side.” (Uninvited, Lysa Terkeurst)
We live in a culture that runs from pain, numbing out from what hurts. But pain proclaims promise. Through it, we can climb to a better place of truth and character.
Pain reveals these truths:
Pain signals that something is wrong. Those that have lost nerve function or feeling in their feet can easily lose a toe. If we didn’t have pain receptors, we wouldn’t know when the stove was too hot to touch or if a knife was edging too close to the finger while chopping. Pain tells us, “Something needs to be amended and repaired.”
Pain reveals what we really believe about ourselves and others. Like the old 35mm film, the beautiful picture develops in the dark. We don’t come into the fullness of who God intends us to be by living an easy life. Pain exposes character. Our ability to wait, listen, and patiently follow the Lord to the other side shows the world (and us) what rested under the surface of calm waters. So, be encouraged; don’t stuff the pain or ignore the lies trying to take root. Don’t run from the pain, wrestle through it to the other side. As Albert Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart. It’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
Pain reflects a weak point, but later turns into strength (if we let it). We feel vulnerable and uncertain and even fearful when dealing with pain. Pain makes us feel flimsy. Pain betrays our mortality. We aren’t as invincible as we once thought. But, we don’t become strong again by ignoring what makes us weak. Strength comes when we choose to turn our weaknesses over to the Lord, trusting the Only One who can love and heal us completely. After my dad went Home to Heaven someone told me that my pain would one day be my platform. Although others endure far greater pain than I have, what we suffer through gives us compassion, empathy and a voice into the lives of someone else hurting.
Don’t be afraid of the questions. Ask what your heart shields against and why it won’t soften. If answers seem elusive, invite the Holy Spirit to unveil the problem beneath the pain.
Meditate on His promises. Reading through the Psalms is a great place to start.
1 Peter 5:9-10 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Deuteronomy 31:8 Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Psalm 37:24-25 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.
Psalm 50:15 Call to me in times of trouble. I will save you, and you will honor me.”
Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good, giving protection in times of trouble. He knows who trusts in him.
Psalm 147:3-5 He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and names each one. Our Lord is great and very powerful. There is no limit to what he knows.
Psalm 119:50 My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
“If Christ is God, He cannot sin, and if suffering was a sin in and by itself, He could not have suffered and died for us. However, since He took the most horrific death to redeem us, He showed us in fact that suffering and pain have great power.”
―E. A. Bucchianeri