Do you remember the first time you got your fingers too close to a hot stove? Or maybe, like me, you’ve tried walking around on a partially torn Achilles tendon. Ever had a kidney stone?
The pain we feel in those situations is actually a message sent by our brains for our own good, because if we didn’t feel pain, we probably wouldn’t realize something was wrong. And if we didn’t realize something was wrong, we wouldn’t take the necessary steps to fix it. And if we don’t take the necessary steps to fix it, a bad situation can quickly become much, much worse.
We all avoid pain as much as humanly possible. But there are a few things we should understand about pain.
1. Pain protects. In the example I mentioned above about walking on an injured leg, the pain we feel prevents us from putting weight on the leg or foot that’s hurting, and so it protects us from an even more serious injury. Pain can be a sign of God’s love, because it protects us from even greater harm.
2. Pain unifies. Did you ever do the “pain dance” when you hit your thumb with a hammer? It’s only your thumb that got hit, but your whole body reacts to that pain. That’s a picture of the church! In 1 Corinthians 12:26 it says, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.” As a church and as a family, we are drawn together by our pain and suffering. When one member of the body is hurting, we all hurt with them, and we work together to heal the hurt. Just as our whole body responds when we hit our thumb, so the whole body of Christ responds to pain and suffering in the world. Pain unifies us with a common response, and a common purpose.
3. Pain corrects. There is a correcting purpose when we feel pain. As much as we try to avoid it, we need pain to tell us there is an infection, a disease, something else wrong, and we need to fix it. Our pain has a purpose.
Here is something for us to ponder. In a staggeringly short period of time, God has taken away virtually everything we worship. Can you imagine God saying,
"You want to worship athletes and sports? I will shut down the stadiums.”
“You want to worship musicians? I will shut down the arenas and concert halls.”
“You want to worship actors? I will shut down the movie theaters.”
“You want to worship money? I will shut down the economy and collapse the stock market.”
“You don't want to go to church and worship me? I will make it so you can't go to church."
We cannot pretend to know the mind of God. His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). But we can take Him at His word when He says, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Is it possible that this current pain we’re experiencing has a purpose? Is it meant for our protection, correction, and unity? Maybe we need to take this time of isolation from the distractions of the world and have a personal revival, where we focus on the one thing in the world that really matters most.
Prayer: Father, the pain we experience, you often mean for our ultimate good. If we have put other idols before you, we cast them down now, and ask for your forgiveness. We want to worship you, and you alone. Amen.