Pain is Our Common Denominator: 5 things I want to share with you about pain

Do you feel pain? Have you ever been in agony? From stubbing your toe in the middle of the night to having your heart-broken by someone, it seems we all have experienced elements of pain. The rare medical condition of CIP (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain) exists.  It’s one of many physical statuses in which a person cannot feel (and has never felt) physical pain.  Some would see CIP as an absolute blessing.  I think, when playing football, how much more courage I’d have if pain was never an issue.  It’d change the way we drive.  Think of the boldness people would have in public knowing that there’s nothing that others could do that would inflict pain.  But for even those with CIP, I’d say there are two observations: 

  1. Just because there’s an absence of pain, doesn’t mean there is no damage.   
  2. No physical pain doesn’t make you immune from pain (mentally and emotionally). 

Pain is the common denominator we all share. No matter what the pain is, we all know what pain feels like.  But we need to realize that people feel pain differently. I know people who have physical fortitude to push through fatigue and physical discomfort but are emotionally brittle. Yet, I’ve sat in hospital rooms of individuals (like my grandmother) who, physically were very fragile, but strongholds of emotional stability.  No matter how strong you are (emotional, physical, mental, spiritual), there is a level of pain and a type of pain you are, most likely, susceptible to. 

Pain is in our humanity and there’s 5 things I want to share with you about pain:

1. Pain can be a gift.  I can’t say that it’s a gift I’m always thankful for. I’m not a masochist…I don’t enjoy pain.  But to step back for a moment and think about it. Pain causes us to stop and pause.  It tells us to proceed cautiously or to retreat quickly.  Its pangs grants us the favor, yes favor, of aches and anguish to help provide dividing lines of healthy and unhealthy living.  When we feel the pain of a broken relationship, our shredded heart reminds us how caring we are and how much we were built for relationships.  Our brokenness guides us for something more that what we are presently tasting.  If you’ve experienced pain caused by someone else, the pangs are there to let us know that the treatment you received isn’t healthy and, therefore, shouldn’t be tolerated or condoned. For those who have CIP, they struggle with continuing to injure themselves because there isn’t the sensation of pain to warn/help them through damage that’s happening to their body.  Without pain, not only would we demolish most relationships, we would destroy ourselves. As much as it hurts, pain can be a blessing.

2. Pain helps us sympathize and empathize.  Both empathy and sympathy are feelings concerning other people. Sympathy is literally means “feeling with.” Sympathy understands, exactly, the pain someone is dealing with because of your previous pain. Empathy, by contrast, is literally “feeling into.”  Empathy, helps us understand someone’s pain by “stepping in their shoes” and using your previous pain to be a reference point.  It’s the ability to project one’s personality into another person and more fully understand that person.   It’s through sympathy AND empathy we can help walk through difficult times with people and lead them to a place of healing.  Look at what you’ve been through.  Your story can trail-blaze hope for someone in turmoil. 

3. Pain doesn’t equate to gain. Some people think pain is necessary.  There are two types of them.  The first are those only happy when they are miserable.  It’s their identity.  They feed off of the drama and/or drawing others into their little narrative of their chaos.  The other are those that chase pain because they think they deserve it.  They invite it and see it as what they deserve for their poor choices.  For some reason, I’ve dealt with so many Christians who live in both of these camps. In church, reading the Scriptures, or during times of prayer, if he/she doesn’t feel “Godly sorrow,” then it wasn’t a productive or spiritual time. They forget that Christ bore our pain/shame/guilt upon the cross.  They need not bear it anymore.    Let me help, “Godly sorrow” is conviction that leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).  The pain of guilt is designed to keep you where you are at.  Chase “Godly sorrow” and run from guilt.  Only one will relieve pain.  The other will keep you in it. 

4. Christ is close to us in our pain.  One of my favorite scriptures of all time is Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

To understand the heart of who God is, you need to see that while we were living in the pain of our iniquity…
…while we were incapable of doing anything about our condition
…when we couldn’t get to God
…he came close to us.  

Isaiah 53:3-5 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Christ can not just identify with our pain, he is close to us in our pain.  He went through agony on every level and understands our pain.  As much as he was abandoned in his darkest of nights, his promise to us, especially in our pain, is that he would never leave us or forsake us.  Our hurt doesn’t deter Jesus away from us. He is moved by our fractures and brokeness and he draws close to us to heal us. 

5. Our pain doesn’t have to be wasted.  Every experience is opportunity.  Every set-back can be a growth point for the future.  I remember when my daughter broke her arm at school, the doctor told me that the break, if it heals correctly, can heal stronger than it was before the break.  Don’t let your pain get wasted.  Don’t live in the darkness of your hurt.  As someone who deals with depression, it’s easy to indulge in your pain and let it be the identity you wear.  Your pain is an opportunity to let the glory of God heal you and shine brightly through your situation. John 11:4 says in The Message, 

“This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.”

We need to stop letting our pain become the final outcome.  If we’ll let Christ come into our hurt, he’ll bring us healing.  And he’ll utilize that pain, which was meant to poison and destroy our lives, be the antidote for someone else’s pain.  Every fracture is an opportunity to show the glory of God.

I can’t explain every pain we go through.  I still look back at painful moments and cannot wrap my brain around why things happened.  But it’s in the midst of my pain where I recognized who Jesus was.  He is “Immanuel: God with me (us).”  

He understood because he had been there.
He helps because he is there.
He heals because that’s who he is.  

I leave you with the scripture that spoke into one of the most painful moments of my life. 

Isaiah 43:1-2 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

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