One of the things I’ve learned in life is that God doesn’t put a premium on painless living. What’s more, if this is one of my highest values, then I will be in direct opposition to Him. I wish I could say that this has never been the case for me, but it used to be. I used to look for whatever would extinguish pain. I’d even say at one point I was allergic to pain…LOL. The good news is, my avoidance of pain didn’t thwart God from using it, nor stand in the way of Him performing His will in my life. The bad news is, I did create additional stress and heartache. Because I’d gone rigid where pain was concerned, I was also resistant to His move in my life.
Pain is a tremendous motivator, and believe it or not, it sometimes is the only recourse God has to incentivize us for change. The nature of humanity is that we enjoy comfort. If we could live forever in a cushioned, comfy bubble we would—we like a womb with a view. This comfort we seek can even be toxic and slowly killing us, but if it alleviates our pain, we usually will gravitate towards it. This is why our Father uses painful situations to motivate us.
Pain is not the enemy! I currently know many people in very painful situations, and each will have the opportunity to associate their pain with blessing and deliverance. I also know many who have refused their painful situations and so, missed their own door to freedom. Many times we think we can escape the pain only to find that it’s increased instead.
Another view of pain is that it’s an abuse. We think that because God’s using pain, He’s abusing us. This is a dangerous train of thought that many take. We react to the presence of pain by accusing the Source. Even a coyote will chew off his own foot to escape pain and capture, but as children of God, bowing is more conducive to Life than fight-or-flight.
The presence of pain is not always the signal that something is wrong. Pruning the dead wood of the flesh is a severance that can be quick and surgical, but painless? No. And often this is the scenario that plays out. We find ourselves running around the operating table, screaming and avoiding the knife, while a half-severed limb drags about behind us.
I’m not advocating masochism, but to believe in the delusion that life can remain free of pain is fool-hearty. It’s not only when I’m corrected and chastised that I experience pain. Any course change brings pain, even when I am being increased. Sure, if I’ve been rooting around in the dirt of the flesh, my repentance and consequences are painful. But expanse and blessing can also create the pain of change. Pain is inevitable because I’m alive. Even bringing forth new life produces pain!
For our fathers used to correct us according to their own ideas during the brief days of childhood. But God corrects us all our days for our own benefit, to teach us His holiness. Now obviously no “chastening” seems pleasant at the time: it is in fact most unpleasant [painful]! Yet when it is all over we can see that is has quietly produced the fruit of real goodness in the characters of those who have accepted it in the right spirit. So take a fresh grip on life and brace your trembling limbs. Don’t wander away from the path but forge steadily onward. On the right path the limping foot recovers strength and does not collapse.
Hebrews 12:10-13 (Phillips)
In my next post, I’ll discuss the difference between pain and suffering.