The Gift of Pain

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”

1 Peter 4:12-13  

In the midst of this coronavirus I thought I’d pull out an old book from my shelf, Phillip Yancey’s book, “Pain, The Gift Nobody Wants” and thumb through it as a reminder to myself that pain and suffering on any level are in reality a gift from God. The book was coauthored with Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Paul Brand who grew up in a Missionary home. His father ran a medical clinic in India. After becoming a physician himself, Dr. Brand eventually returned to India to work specifically with leperesy patients. In his study of the disease he learned much about the central nervous system and what he deemed the “gift of pain”

The Lord brought to my mind this morning as I was reading from 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 which says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” In other words the apostle Paul is exhorting the church to remember something extremely important when not if we are afflicted in this  life. The apostle is reminding us whatever affliction we may suffer, and suffer we will to some extent in our lifetime, to recall that it is a “light momentary affliction” meaning it too shall pass. And not only will it pass, but God is using any and every painful situation we encounter to prepare us for something better! God never, and I repeat never wastes a hurt! Just think, whatever suffering you or I will face is actually working for our benefit, for our eternal good and glory! We might not understand what or why we are going through whatever it is we are going through but we can trust that God is using it for His glorious purposes concerning us and our eternal joy!

On pages 187-188 of Dr. Brand and Phillip Yancey’s book he wrote something that echoed what the apostle Paul was writing about in my devotion’s this morning. He said, “Pain is not the enemy, but the loyal scout announcing the enemy. Pain truly is the gift nobody wants. On my travels I have observed an ironic law of reversal at work: as a society gains the ability to limit suffering, it loses the ability to cope with what suffering remains...The average Indian villager knows suffering well, expects it, and accepts it as an unavoidable challenge of life. In a remarkable way the people of India have learned to control pain at the level of the mind and spirit, and have developed endurance that we in the West find hard to understand. Westerners, in contrast, tend to view suffering as an injustice or failure, an infringement on their guaranteed right to happiness.”

A great reminder today for me and you, loved one. When not if we suffer remember God doesn’t waste a hurt. Pain really is a gift nobody wants but one we all need and one that God uses to help loosen or grasp on this life and to help us lay hold of the one to come. Most of our eduction in this world focuses on how to be prepared for this life (which is important in the temporal sense) where God on the other hand is preparing not only for this life but more importantly, He is preparing us for eternity, the life to come using not only what we see but everything we can’t and don’t see as well.

Everyone hurts, we all suffer but none of us has to go through the difficult times alone. I’ll leave you with a simple exercise you can do from home today. Stand up, reach out, reach up, let go, and let God! Stand with God today, walk with Him, enjoy talking with Him and reading His Word. Reach out to God and to others. Hell is isolation and why many are feeling as if they are suffering today around the world is we are somewhat isolated from others during this coronavirus quarantine. Talk to God, talk to others about how you are feeling, and what you are thinking. You might be surprised to learn we are all in this together. And lastly, bring all your cares and your worries to God and let go, leave them there. Trust me, it’s the best exercise any of us can get from home or anywhere else we might be. So, stand up, reach out, reach up, let go and let God. Oh yeah, and remember to breathe! 

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11


Michael Osthimer





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