Having suffered the birth pangs of labor (bearing two precious children) as well as the severe pain of appendicitis and kidney stones (bearing nothing precious at all), pain is not a stranger to me. In fact, dull and annoying pain is my unwelcome companion more days than not, and I attempt to cope by complaining. Every couple months or so, my companion of pain will suddenly attack for a 3-5 hour episode that leaves me rolling on the floor and begging for mercy.
Only in the times of the worst pain do I find myself desperately crying out to God. Recently, I found that one way of coping is to take my eyes off my pain and focus on bringing the hurt of others before His throne. Friends who are experiencing grief because of loss or facing difficult times come to mind. The momentary mental diversion serves as a reminder to me that the world is bigger than me at that moment, and while my pain is temporary, others suffer more for much longer. And it does not EVEN begin to compare to the physical suffering Jesus endured on the cross, not to mention the spiritual and emotional suffering He had to endure simultaneously.
According to Romans 8:23-24, “all of creation groans as in the pains of childbirth” and “we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” I am never alone in my pain, and while I await the redemption of my body, I can redeem the time of pain as a time of prayer.
R.C. Sproul claims that “the cumulative pain of every disease was laid on Him. He bore in His body that the ravages of every evil, every sickness, and every pain known to the human race” (Surprised by Suffering, p. 14). I wonder if pain would be more bearable if we really believed it was not senseless, but had a meaningful purpose. Perhaps it is a way I can participate in His suffering. There IS a beauty in finding fellowship with Him in pain. Recent memories of severe episodes of pain are framed with the sweetness of God’s presence and comfort.
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