I think the worse pain I ever felt was when I somehow opened my car door right into my eye one night after church. I was rolling around on the driveway for a good couple of minutes. When the pain finally subsided some, I was seeing double. Like a good future doctor, I decided to sleep it off to see if it would be better in the morning. My vision actually got worse so I got it checked out. Fortunately, I came away with just a corneal abrasion and a gnarly terminator-looking eye for some months. The ophthalmologist said she never heard a story like that before.
Pain is such a funny thing. It’s so unpleasant, but it’s so important to our well-being. Growing up in church we are taught how lepers end up losing their limbs because they couldn’t feel a burn or a prick. The equivalent now would be the diabetics who have to have their toes, and sometimes entire limbs, amputated because the superficial infection eventually got into the bones. And all because they couldn’t feel the initial injury.
God created our bodies to feel pain to alert us that something is wrong. Yet, many have devoted so much time and resources trying to blunt that response. There’s such a hoopla now about adequately treating pain and it’s reflected by the kind of medicine we practice. In 2010, vicodin was the most prescribed medication, and I suspect it’s still up there now.
I’m not sure we’re doing all that much good dishing out all these narcotics. A good chunk of the time, we don’t even know why there’s pain, at least based on the things that we can measure and check. I think often times, physical symptoms like pain are the manifestations of emotional and spiritual turmoil that’s within.
Life isn’t about avoiding pain and suffering. Comfort is not God’s ultimate priority for our lives. Suffering wasn’t part of the plan, but is the result of our disobedience. But God, in His grace, redeems it in the lives of His children, using it to correct us and draw us back to Him. And God came into this world of suffering and bore the ultimate pain on our behalf, the punishment for our sins. So when pain and suffering come, I hope it can remind you of the consequences of our sins against God, but more importantly, of the sweetness of heaven, where there will be no more suffering. God be praised.
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelations 21:3-5