Monday, August 13, 2012

Where does it hurt? Why does it hurt?

As a nurse, especially as a Labor & Delivery nurse, I have spent a great deal of my professional time dealing with pain.

When a patient comes in complaining of pain, it is our job to determine where the pain is, how long the patient has been hurting, what type of pain it is (throbbing, stabbing, sharp, dull) and how intense the pain is.  The answers to all these questions can lead us to the cause of the pain.  This is important because not every pain in the abdomen of the pregnant woman is the result of labor.  Sometimes pregnant women can have gallbladder problems, kidney stones or even appendicitis.  The pain if properly chronicled can be diagnostic.  It can help to teach us where to look for the problem.

This is one reason we experience pain in our personal lives as well.  The Lord allows pain to come to us to point out areas which need to be changed, which are not in accordance to His word or His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.  The pain leads us to seek advice, spiritual counsel and the support and prayer of our leaders and fellow believers in Christ.  The pain often keeps us from making the same mistakes we have made in the past, it is a reminder to us.  Sometimes it can be like a medicine promoting healing to our soul.

 "The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing:Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.  I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against Thee."  Psalm 41:3,4

There is a particular type of pain some pregnant women experience which can be extremely intense but, except for the fact it is painful, has no negative consequence to either the mother or baby.  This occurs when the round ligaments which support the uterus on each side begin to pull and tighten too quickly.   

I had never had this with my first two pregnancies but I had taken care of numerous patients experiencing this painful condition.  It wasn't until my last pregnancy I experienced "round ligament pain" for myself.  Suddenly I realized I had not been nearly sympathetic enough to all those women I had taken care of with this condition.  I know that now I have much more empathy for my patients who have this and I totally understand the amount of pain they are going through when they experience this.

The pain gave me empathy.  Sometimes we are allowed to go through painful things so that we can minister comfort to others because we have suffered ourselves.  There is a difference offering comfort to someone when you have no idea what there suffering is like and when you have been there yourself.

"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." (2 Corinthians 1:3,4)

Sometimes pain is allowed in our lives as a way of leading us to prayer, especially for others.  The pain -- often a deep, burdensome pain -- is a reminder to pray for that person.  I have had these types of pain for my children and for dear friends on several occasions.  They would call with desperate problems and I would find my heart torn for their pain and their suffering.  That pain would inevitably lead me to prayer. Then again, perhaps only a few minutes later, the pain would again remind me and again I would pray (because often there is nothing else we can do and nothing else more effective to do.)  The Lord knows we pray most effectively and most fervently when we feel helpless and are in pain for others.    This pain is a mere shadow -- a child's sketch of the oil painting Luke paints for us of the  pain the Lord Jesus must have had praying in Gethsemane:

"And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."  Luke 22:44

So when we have those pains of the heart, the burdens of the spirit, may we not immediately seek to distract ourselves from them or even to eradicate them.  May we first ask the Lord what purpose they serve in our lives.  May we seek to utilize even the pains of this life as tools to glorify our Lord and work out His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.

 "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9,10

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