Monday, January 4, 2016

Choices in Pain

Everyone at some point experiences pain.  

If we are not currently in pain, we undoubtedly know someone who is.  If we do not personally know someone in pain, we know that someone somewhere is currently in pain.

Pain is such a complex thing and often hard to define.  Pain can be throbbing, stabbing, sharp, dull, squeezing, radiating, and more.

Merriam-Webster gives this definition of pain:

a :  usu. localized physical suffering associated with bodily disorder (as a disease or an injury); also :  a basic bodily sensation induced by a noxious stimulus, received by naked nerve endings, characterized by physical discomfort (as pricking, throbbing, or aching), and typically leading to evasive actionb :  acute mental or emotional distress or suffering

Regardless of the particular definition we use to define it, we know one thing for sure, pain hurts.

Pain also protects.  The pain we feel as our hand gets too near the stove protects us from further damage.  The pain from an injury keeps us from continuing on, which could cause more damage, and leads us to seek rest and treatment.

Pain can strengthen.  Ask any weight lifter why they suffer through sometimes painful workouts and they will tell you the minute muscle damage increases strength as the muscle repairs itself.  It reminds me of when our son was in Marine Corps basic training we came across a Marine Corps poster which said, "Pain is weakness leaving the body."  

Pain can lead to wisdom.  When we hiked our first section hike of the Appalachian Trail, we  underestimated the trail and over-estimated our abilities to deal with the unexpected. Because of that, and for reasons outside of our control, we experienced some painful situations.  That particular pain caused us to plan more carefully the next time.  The experience also taught us we can do much more than we thought we could.

Pain can be a great motivator.  It motivates us to remove ourselves from whatever is causing the pain, or to remove the source of the pain from ourselves.  It motivates us to do those things which will keep the pain from recurring.

Pain also leads, it leads us to a choice.  We can either concentrate on ourselves, our pain and our situation or we can choose to direct our thoughts toward others.  

So we are back where we started. . .we all either know someone who is hurting or we know that someone somewhere is hurting.

In our pain we can choose to "bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ," (Galatians 6:2) by praying for others in pain.  Or as the Apostle James said:

". . .pray one for another, that ye may be healed.  The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."  James 5:16

Praying for others when we find ourselves in pain is not an easy thing to do, yet it follows the pattern the Lord Jesus Christ gave us.  As He was nailed to the cross, He prayed for the Father's forgiveness for others.

Praying for others, instead of focusing on ourselves, gives more purpose to our pain.  Indeed, in our easily distracted world, it may be pain is one of the ways we can become focused on the needs and pains of others.

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