“I’m glad I’m in pain.” You must think I’m crazy
No one wants or welcomes pain. And let me assure you, I’m the very same way. But let me tell you why I’m glad this time.
You may remember from my other post, I now have braces on my bottom teeth. I’m in my 60’s and it’s no way to feel like a teenager. The braces are a correction of the crooked teeth which over these, lo, many years, have been traumatized by hitting my top teeth in wrong ways. Several bottom teeth became loose. Braces would fix that and prevent drastic measures. In the five months since the braces journey began, I haven’t had much pain. I was surprised. But several days ago, I had another adjustment and Dr. Moranga gave me good news. “This adjustment will now begin to pull down the teeth that are rising above the others. Before we were just moving them back. Now we’ll move them down.”
I was so pleased to hear this. Another step toward health. And that’s why when the pain came, more than the other times, I was glad. ‘Bring it on! I’m on my way to health!” But I haven’t always felt that way about all pain.
About six years ago, I was in such intense, overwhelming sciatic pain that all I could do was lay on my back and not even raise my head. For nine months I prayed for relief and God did provide through surgery. But I was not a happy camper and I never want to feel that kind of pain again. So I have to admit that the pain from braces is less and I also know it will end.
But I think the spiritual lesson still applies. Emotional and spiritual pain is not wanted, but it is valuable. We aren’t called by God to ask for it. We don’t need to seek it out. We don’t need to subject ourselves to it unnecessarily. Unfortunately, we don’t have to do any of those things yet it will still come because we are on planet earth as sinning humans in the midst of other sinning humans and a world of challenges. As a result, emotional pain comes from misunderstandings, criticism, rejection, failure, blocked goals, and many other challenges. Spiritual pain can come from frustration that we still struggle in sin when we want to be perfect. Or being confused by not understanding a biblical concept. Or being inconsistent in our spiritual disciplines when we want to be faithful. Struggles we don’t like and can’t avoid. And at times seem senseless.
But here’s the good news of pain. God has a purpose and plan, based in His loving competency and wisdom. That’s what I Peter 1:6-7 assures us:
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I admit, that’s not always good news and Peter knows that. He writes in Chapter 4:12-13:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
And he adds later in Chapter 5:10 the beneficial result:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
This perspective is not easy. I’m like you. I don’t welcome pain. But sometimes, in the case of this momentarily light affliction of pain from braces, I can cheerfully anticipate the good result. And I’m thankful for the perspective I can apply to emotional and spiritual pain. When the benefit isn’t obvious or known, I must trust by faith in God’s goodness.
God has a plan and a purpose. You are not alone. He knows what you’re going through. His loving kindness has good motives for your best.
Just a reminder. Have you put your name into the drawing for a copy of Andrea Merrell’s book Marriage: Make It or Break It? Click here. The drawing ends this Friday evening.