The Problem of Pain

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”   
―    C.S. Lewis

I’m a runner.  I know a little bit about pain.  I love the Running Room T-shirts that say “My sport is your sport’s punishment”.  Runners are tough and resilient.  They run through pain with every step, every breath, every kilometre. They run in the heat of the day and in the cold of the winter.  Heck, I’ll run outside as long as the temperature, including windchill, is warmer than -25 degrees Celcius (-13 degrees Farenheit).

The reason I started running was because my first degree Black Belt test in Taekwon-do required a fitness test as part of the tests’ three days of torture. I kept running because we had to do the same thing for each subsequent Black belt test.

For the first three years of running I HATED it (I’m sorry to use such a strong word but it is the truth).  If it weren’t for the fact that our Taekwon-do technical director wanted us to be in the best shape for competitions, I would not have continued running.  I dreaded the pain, the thirst, the anguish.  And this was only running 2.4 km!  As I continued running, I started to run further and further, for longer and longer, despite the pain.  Strangely, now I love to run–the exhilaration, the fresh air, the beauty of the outdoors, the quiet time with God. I’m not saying that there is no pain anymore, but just that I don’t notice it as much.  I’ve become accustomed to it. I realize that it has its purpose.

Without pain I could step on a splinter, walk around on it for days, have it become infected, then gangrenous, then have my foot fall off.  Or I could lean on a stove that is hot and not know to take my hand off of it and burn it very badly.  So if physical pain has its purpose, then what about psychological or emotional pain?

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” (1st Peter 4:12-13)

Being single has its share of pain.  It can be hard to live in this world and not have times when we feel outside of the laughter or happiness of those around us, or to have our singleness constantly thrust on us through ads and movies that use romance as their platform, or to see our friends “moving on” around us while we “stay” where we are.  But remember–this is our reality in God right now.  We should rejoice in our struggles, as we are told to do.  Is it any different for us than the pain of a single mother trying to raise her child, or for a person with MS who lives with the knowledge of the future that is before her, or for the family who is struggling to get by?  We all have pain and pain should not be belittled, but I pray that the pain in my life teaches me something.

Also, I pray that God can use my response to pain to help others.  Paul, in chains, says the following:

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. (Phil 1:12 – 14, NIV)

We should all pray that as we go through a season of pain that this would be the outcome–that most of our brothers and sisters in the Lord will become more confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear!

RUN!
by Mary

You, Oh God, are great!
As I run through the valley
The light flickers over the greenest greens,
My nose detects the newness of valley life,
My skin feels the delicious touch of the cool air mixed with the warmth
Of the sun’s kiss…

I soak in this heavenly beauty as I run with You.
There is pain in the valley—
my legs hurt,
there’s pain in my side, my back, my front,
my mind rebels and tells me I can’t do it,
my lungs gasp for breath,
my mouth parches for water!

But You are there with me.
Combating my rebellious mind—
If the mind can be bent to obey the will,
then the body will follow.

This training, however, is not to prepare for a marathon
But to prepare me for the race of life:
To teach my mind that it must bend to the will,
To teach the body to endure pain and yet continue,
To teach the heart to persevere,
And to teach the spirit to trust in God completely.

God is moulding me through this valley,
Just as surely as He walks with me through the valley
of the shadow,
He will not stop until I am like Christ!

Amen!

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