Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gift of Pain

Pain. It is like a dark and lonely room full of shadows. Sometimes we stay awhile. Sometime we only pass through. We may experience it together or be utterly and completely alone. It comes in as many shades and forms as there are people on the planet. Every person has , is or will travel through their own "shadowlands" - One of the few guarantees in this unpredictable world.

Pain. It wracks bodies , breaks hearts , and defies expression , often running so deep we are left wordless. It stuns. It overwhelms. It inspires fear , guilt , or just pure anguish. This is pain.

Pain has been on my mind. It's been on my mind because I don't understand why...why all this pain? This weekend I sat with my arm around the shoulders of a dear friend , able to protect her slightly from the cold , but unable to shield her from the disease ravaging her body. Days ago my vivacious 2nd cousin, Randa, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm, leaving a heart-broken fiance. Yesterday I received an email from a missionary in Tchad I've never met , who is reaching out for comfort as we both grieve the death of a mutual friend.

Pain is real. It stares you in the face and cannot be ignored. Have you ever wished you could fix it? The current pain in my foot is fixable. I've made an appointment at the Doctor's office and have full expectation he will make my foot better. Using this logic wouldn't it make sense for God to take our pain away? He has the power. He loves us. Isn't he the great Physician? Isn't pain the enemy?

This is where God has been teaching me new things. Could pain possibly be a gift? My first thought is "How revolting! There is no way this awful pain could be a good gift!" But it has started to dawn on me, slowly... Pain takes away my self-sufficiency. Pain pulls me to my knees. Pain presses me deeper into God's heart as I cry "WHY?!". Pain leads me to greater surrender. Pain requires greater trust. Pain gives me compassion for those hurting. Pain is a purifying fire... Pain is a gift. Anything that draws me closer to the Lover of my soul is a gift, no matter how painful. As a favorite hymn says "Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee, Even though it be a cross that raiseth me."

While pain is a gift, it is only a gift for a time and season. There will come a day when it will have used up its usefulness. In that beautiful day, we will set aside the gift of these broken and wounded hearts. In the words of a song...
* "We'll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we'll look back on these tears as old tales"

I will never fully understand the "why" behind pain and loss and brokenness. But one thing I know. We can take either joy or pain as from a Father's hand. It's a gift and God only gives good ones.
(James 1: 17, Matthew 7: 11)

* After The Last Tear Falls - Andrew Peterson
You Are Good (last verse) - Nicole Nordeman
It Is Well (instrumental) - Josh Wilson
Before The Morning (acoustic)- Josh Wilson
Blessings - Laura Story
Day by Day - Hymn 532
Nearer My God To Thee - Hymn 473


David Knapp said...

Pain always reminds me why this world is not our home. It helps keep me focused, otherwise I would become to complacent and comfortable in this world... If you are interested in reading on this topic, I would recommend "The Problem of Pain" by C. S. Lewis.

Araya said...

(You remember me from the canvassing program in Ohio, right?)

Wow, Heather. Thanks. So, so true. I needed that reminder just now. :)

Laurel said...

"It's a gift, and God only gives good ones." So true-- I'm resting my life on that truth. He IS that good.

Heather said...

Thanks David. I'm interested in reading that. Pain does keep us focused on our real home!

And YES! I do remember you, Araya! So glad this could be an encouragement!

Laurel - I'm resting my life on it with you. :) HE is trustworthy.

Ashley Cross said...

Ah Heather, its something I too I have been learning the past few months. I still seek a deeper understanding. But I am learning its an important gift. One I must be thankful for and count as His grace.

Melissa said...

I stumbled across your blog yesterday, and I wanted to thank you for this post. It was a blessed reminder - and so true! Hope you and your family are doing well. I have happy memories of you guys from Korea. :)

David Skau said...

Incredible, how He can bring gifts in such unexpected places - and the gift of seeing them so!

And another one for the reading list - "Pain, the Gift Nobody Wants" by Paul Brand. It's incredibly eye-opening (and doubly fascinating for a health professional!). Teaser... God removing pain without healing its root would be a far worse curse than pain itself. Pain is a gift, that teaches us to avoid that which hurts and destroys!