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Wednesday, February 07, 2018


C.S. Lewis called pain God's megaphone.
Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world (The Problem of Pain, 1940).
Lewis was a bright fellow, but let's do something better.

Wise Solomon wrote, "In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him" (Eccl 7:14). Joseph indicated that the evil suffering he endured at the hands of his brothers was meant for evil, "but God meant it for good" (Gen 50:20). James commands us, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4). Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt 5:10-12). Paul assured us, "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rom 5:3-5). Among other things on the subject, Peter wrote, "Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (1 Peter 4:19). Just a smattering, but the source is the best -- God's Word -- and the message is consistent. Pain in the life of the Christian is not a bad thing. God uses pain in our lives for His good purposes and for our benefit. We know, in fact, that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). What good does He have in mind? That we might "be conformed to the image of his Son" (Rom 8:29). The Bible is full of information on pain. God uses it for a variety of purposes. All of them are good, whether it be judgment, correction, or training. The truism is ours: "No pain, no gain". But it is generally true. And that gives value to pain.

Pain comes in various forms. Obviously there is physical pain when your body is forced into something it was not designed to endure. There is mental pain when you try to figure out a difficult problem. There is emotional pain when you face a tough emotional situation. There is the pain of an injured conscience when you do what you know to be wrong. And more.

Tony Dungy was the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2002 to 2008. Dungy has a son, Jordan, who has a rare condition that makes him incapable of feeling pain. That's good, right? Tony says it's not. You see, Jordan doesn't know when he picks up a hot item and burns himself or catches his hand in a drawer or ... Pain, you see, is God's method of telling us that something isn't right. Dr. Paul Brand wrote The Gift of Pain. A pioneer in the study of leprosy, Dr. Brand discovered that the primary problem was not that body parts rot and fall off. The primary problem was that nerve endings died. When the patient failed to feel pain, they would do damage to themselves, and eventually the damage would destroy body parts. Pain, you see, is essential. It is God's megaphone, our warning, the red light on the dashboard that tells you you're on dangerous ground.

We don't like pain. We don't like physical pain, but I don't know if we tolerate physical pain better than we do other types. Guilt, for instance, is a pain we'd rather avoid, but it's not physical. Still, guilt (proper guilt) can serve as an important indicator of sin, and that's something we need to address, both in our interactions with God and with others. In the same way, other pain can provide us a critical service. The pain in your body may be telling you you need to do something, stop doing something, or maybe just rest. An emotional or spiritual pain can direct you away from more serious injury or even drive you to the Savior. In pain we can "count it all joy." In every case we should "not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Phil 4:6) Since it's God's plan, I think it's a good one.

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