Pain is a great indicator of healing they say.
Pain is a sign of recovery.
Pain is a gracious reminder our bodies are compromised, in need of attention and care.
But it requires us to slow down, to stop, to pause, to take more time and effort over our steps, our breathes.
Pain reminds us we have been knocked, we have been bruised, we have been struck down.
It confronts us with the fragility of our bodies.
Demands we adjust, change pace or position.
This week has been painful.
I have been rendered weak, fearful, shaken and knocked down. All my hopes…. no all my plans for the week required a strong body, a life free of pain. As I enjoyed an early morning cycle I didn’t think it would end with shock, frustration, end not at home but on a roundabout being knocked over by a car. I didn’t think it would end in so much pain.
We often pray our lives were marked by less pain. Surely our lives would bear witness to the good life, the joyful life, the blessed life in Christ without pain?
Without the family battles and breakdown.
Without the animosity or indifference of family and friends.
Without relentless suffering in lives consumed and marked by depression
Without the constant feelings of failure and inadequacy of parenting.Without yet another symptom or diagnosis.
Without the demand on time engagement and emotions when all you need is to be held, to be comforted, to be heard.
Our lives are marked by pain.
I often think my witness to the good life with Jesus would be more effective with fewer falls. No one would display the cyclist knocked down to advertise the benefits of an active, healthy lifestyle so why do our lives in Christ preach lives defined so often by pain? What is good about pain?
As pain grips, it heals.
It grips our mind, focusing us on the reality of what has happened.
It doesn’t allow us to escape or ignore.
It requires we attend and attune our minds, hearts and bodies to the reality of the present.
It reassures and reminds us of the reality of our suffering, of its significance, of its hurt and frustration even when bruises remain hidden from others.
As it floods our bodies, our minds, our hearts with its overwhelming intensity, filling every nerve and sense, affecting every move and thought, it reminds us we are alive. We feel and we feel intensely.
My accident, my fall, my pain this week required I abandon all the plans I’d made. Required I abandon my plans to rest in the sovereign purposes of my heavenly Father. Required I abandon my method of recovery to rest in the better comfort of my gracious Saviour.
In the frantic searching and scrambling for comfort and peace, I’ve only found one place of healing and rest.
In the frustration of living with more rest I’ve only found one place of forgiveness.
In the living of my weakness, I’ve only found one place of power and grace sufficient to sustain.
In my falling and in my fears, I have one who upholds.
In my shaking and tears, I have one who steadies my heart with His presence. Turning my fearful what if into a rejoicing what did.
We’re tempted to imagine the painless life is the good life. We’re tempted to think if this, or without that our lives would be more validated as Christians. But in times of suffering, there is no time wasted. The times of pain are times of purpose.
Whether it’s getting back on the bike or getting out of bed. Whether it’s the next step, or the next sorry, the pain may be powerful, but it is purposeful.
Our plans may require changing as we continue through a time of pain. But the Lord’s plans are purposeful and powerful, sustaining and strengthening every fibre, every nerve marked by pain.
Our temptation may be a longing to hide our pain, to replay and rewrite the moments, to conceal our pain or try and escape it. We may spend all our energy to fight that feeling of shame in our weakness. But mercifully, we have a gracious Father who overcomes our weakness, who shows the perfection of his strength through our weakness, who hides us in His love and in His mercy and comfort.
We have a God who has gone through every suffering, every pain, through death itself.
And as we share in his suffering, as we live our lives of pain, He does not put us to shame.
Through the pain, God beautifully works to display us, to shine us, with all the mess in our lives, all our fallings and our weaknesses, to a fallen and broken world in desperate need of his upholding and sustaining love.
We may be fallen, we may continue to fall, but the pain we endure powerfully, purposefully points the watching world to God our Saviour whose life of suffering purposed and achieved life in all its fullness for us. Pain that points to Jesus our Saviour who is keeping safe for us our forever home with Him, where we will be perfectly healed, perfectly restored, and forever freed from all pain.