Pain is a difficult issue to consider. Nobody wants to experience it and for the most part we don’t want to think about it, either. But pain is a part of life and I suspect it is an important part of God’s good interactions with humanity. If you didn’t hear me right the first time, let me emphasize that. I suspect pain is a tool of God, with good purposes, rather than merely a byproduct of the fall.
Think for a minute about the ways that pain affects you. A minor pain will draw one’s attention to things they otherwise might not notice. A minor pain on my nose allowed me to notice and have a skin cancer removed before it became a bigger problem. An intermediate pain will prompt a change of behavior, such as the proverbial child touching the stove. A severe pain will cause one to seek immediate help. And the most severe pains will shut down all other activities while the body heals.
Likely, many of us tend to think of pain only in its negative context. I understand that since the most obvious aspect of pain is that it hurts! But, if we only think of pain as a negative, we will miss one of the ways God is leading us forward. In the process of leading us toward maturity He will need to evoke every level of response listed above during the course of our lives. This is one of the many ways that God works for good whatever the devil intends for evil.
So as you move forward look at your pain as an opportunity. It might be calling your attention to a small problem before it becomes a big problem. It might be reshaping your patterns into more Christ-like behavior. It might be signaling the need to seek help from other believers. Or it might be motivating a time of retreat where you can spend time alone with God.
Look at this picture and you will see two eggs. One is waiting to be hatched and the other is freshly hatched with a killdeer chick hanging out of one half. The poor thing is still wet from the egg and appears to be exhausted with the effort.
In my opinion it deserves to be worn out, it just did one of the biggest and most important tasks of its life. Breaking out of the eggshell may be the most strenuous task of a bird’s life. It has been discovered by ornithologists that birds which are assisted out of their shell will not survive. It appears most species need the workout generated by the activity to build the strength necessary to sustain life.
The existence of struggle being necessary for the furtherance of life is true for more than just birds. We who are born again into the family of God, by faith through grace in Jesus Christ will also have some struggles necessary for our progress. In the Christian life, you will have to wrestle with contrition leading you to admit and confess your sin, you will strain to perfect repentance and the failure therein will teach you to depend fully upon grace, and you will grapple with accountability allowing for ongoing discipleship. All of these challenges are found in the Christian journey of growth.
So don’t despise the effort. If you want to continue to accomplish great things in life, or in your Christian life, you should take a lesson from the little guy napping in this picture. Rest is important. Recuperating in between challenges is just as important as the victories themselves. Failing to rest will bring our progress in these endeavors to a screeching halt.
Jesus understood the need for rest. In Mark 6:30-31 (NASB) Jesus meets with the apostles after the first time he sent them out. They are returning from their first great success, but notice what His first priority was. “The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’ (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)”
Yesterday I posted a repeat, which had not yet been added to the blog site. With some real world situations keeping my busy the next few days I am likely to continue this pattern. If you feel the need to pray for my wife and I over the next few days, it would be greatly appreciated. She will be having major surgery, and all prayers are appreciated.