Ouch, Pain Hurts!

Van Gogh, The Scream

One of the things I’ve learned in life is that God doesn’t put a premium on painless living, pain. 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, because pain hurts. 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 Hurts and Motivates

Pain Hurts and Motivates
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.

Pain Hurts and Feels Abusive

Pain Hurts and Feels Abusive
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.

Pain in Change

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)

For more on this check out my recent post where I discuss the difference between pain and suffering.

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    • sue

      “we like a womb with a view” this comfort (I) seek…..can be killing me.” Oh so much wisdom to digest here.
      Bless you for giving us this bounty to feed upon.

    • Irene

      Of course I have to read this before going to my dentist appointment.

    • LeAnn

      Wow John—this is a timely word, shared with empathy and clarity. I was just wondering about pain last week; how sometimes I’m in pain because of pride, because of idolatry, because of sin! Rarely have I experienced pain because of being identified with Christ—glad He chastens is as Sons of the Father.

      • Pain is a huge motivator, why wouldn’t He use it. It has been amazing to learn that pain is inevitable because I’m alive and then even bringing forth new Life produces pain! Thanking our Father that He walks with us through each and every step. Love you LeAnn!

    • tammy

      It appears that my refusal to accept the truth of my emotional pain often results in both physical pain and mental anguish. By acknowledging and confessing the truth of my emotional pain I find grounds for repentance and prayer which begins my healing – in all arenas. I praise God and thank Him for all of His ways. I may not enjoy them all – but He blesses me through them still.

      Thank you John.
      (Bless you M. ?)

      • That is so precisely the point Tammy! And gratitude is a huge key and major answer. Love you muches !

    • Here’s a little curiosity. To seek pain throughout life is masochism, a mental disorder. Yet, avoiding any and all pain is also considered a mental disorder (avoidant personality disorder). Either extreme warps the mind and heart, making that person unfruitful. As one writer says, if your cup is filled with blessings, then drink it in communion with Him; if your cup is filled with suffering, then drink it in communion with Him. Both are nutritious to the soul.

      A toast to you John as we drink from our cups together with Him.

      • Absolutely Don! I toast you in response. Thank you for sharing this. Crucial point! I love taking it to communion!

    • Helen

      Pain can be motivation…concede & proceed…surrender! to Love’s choice, purpose, Person! And we are taken to ‘waters to swim in’, beyond all depth but Christ in you. Change…our God is so expansive & comprehensive! We hit our borders & edges…& He keeps moving, speaking. He’s unstoppable. We discover faith that is Substance, Christ! And there were see beyond any border, & Love supports the trembling heart, willing to go such places with Him. We cannot come to the end of Sight of Him…the Unspeakable Christ, that speaks Himself into view. Paul, in 2nd.Tim., “The Lord will grant you full insight & understanding in everything”…in training, discipline, situations, & went on to give as example while in prison, “The Word of God is not imprisoned.” Paul’s understanding…GOD of Glory! Change…throbbing Life…Jealousy of the Father for the Son, Jealousy of the Son for His Bride. Life…SHARED…ultimate, valued privilege. “All I dearly love I unmask & train.” “I counsel you to purchase gold perfected by fire, so that you can be truly rich.” Chastening…”it has quietly produced the fruit of real goodness in the characters of those who have accepted it in a right spirit.” Shouts of Grace!

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