The continued topic from last week is pain; physical pain, pain to the body that is easy to define and understand, verses that inside pain to our psyche that can get complicated. We could begin an endless list covering the differences of these two pains. I’m sure some are forming in your head right now, but let’s keep things simple. Let us look at the similarity. We call them both pain, so there has got to be some common ground. There is, and we said it last week. Pain is a tool. Whether physical, emotional, mental, whatever, God uses pain to try and teach us something. Pain is supposed to heighten our awareness to the circumstances surrounding us in order to protect us. That’s why we use a stick to roast a marshmallow instead of holding it in the fire. We become very aware of the danger of heat as we get closer to the fire. Why so often, do we throw that same understanding out the window when it comes to emotional pain? How many times have we stuck our hand into the same fire that has burned us more than once? Yeah, you know what I am talking about. We have all been part of something in our lives that brought us pain. We didn’t see it coming. It seemed like the right thing when it began, then Wham! We got hurt. Then we distanced ourself from the source, the fire, only to be drawn back to the flame for another burning. We did not learn the lesson that was meant to protect us.
I know I am making something simple out of something with many variables, but don’t lose focus. We are looking for the lesson. How is God using this pain in my life? What is He trying to teach me? In Romans (5:3-4) Paul says, Pain (he uses tribulations) produces perseverance; and perseverance, character, and character, hope. In other words, he is saying pain can bring some good, very good, characteristics and benefits to your life. Here is the tough part, it doesn't happen automatically. Just because we get hurt, doesn’t mean we will learn something. The perseverance, character and hope come when we take time to consider what just happened. Go to God and His Word. Work it out with Him in prayer. Contemplate possibilities, then try a different method, because we cannot just avoid every emotional fire can we? We can, however, get a stick, use an oven mitt, and not keep our marshmallow in the fire so long that it burns to a crisp. Too often we think of pain as evil, but where would we be without it? That’s an easy answer. We would be without the protection it is meant to provide, and that frightens me more than the pain.