I have the greatest empathy for anyone who suffers chronic pain. It’s no fun.
As you know, I’ve had numerous foot surgeries. For the past two years, I’ve been able to walk without limping and without pain.
Even the limp is back. Needless to say, I’ve been discouraged. There’s pain in places in my foot I wouldn’t have thought could cause pain!
Now, this is not to elicit your sympathy. It’s just to acknowledge that pain is very much a part of the Christian’s experience.
I’m always amazed at those Christians who are proponents of the “Christians don’t hate to experience pain. We can pray ourselves right out of it.”
Hmmm. Do you think they would have dared tell Jesus that as he hung on the cross?
I don’t think so.
But it’s not just physical pain where Christians are not exempt. It’s the emotional pain as well and this garners even more disdain from those Christians I dub the “Christians for whom everything is always wonderful.”
If one’s lives long enough, they will experience some emotional pain. How traumatic it is, whether it results in true depression or not, might well depend on their willingness to admit it.
Maybe there’s something to be said for experience some pain before you have to experience a whole lot of it. Hopefully, I’ve already reached my “quota”.
But there’s to be learned from pain.
First of all, we get a “sampling” of what Jesus suffered for us.
Secondly, we learn to trust more. Wouldn’t you agree that our faith grows more during difficult times?. I wish it wasn’t so, but I’m afraid it is.
Third, pain, in all its forms, keeps us humble. Somehow when we’re in pain, it’s easier to empathize with others.
Since my mom died, I’ve found it easier to empathize with the pain others feel when they lose a loved one. Up to this point, I feel I fell short. The last year, and especially the final six months were particularly hard due to the dementia. So when I ran into a couple who were having a garage sale and they shared they had moved back to the area to take care of the women’s father who had dementia, I knew what to say. I was able to share the pain I had felt. I hope it helped.
Pain should make us more “open” and understanding of another’s pain.
I’ve never lost my home to a natural disaster, the type of which is hammering Texas. I did have a tree fall on our house many years ago and I remember how I felt then. While that was nothing in comparison, I can take my mind a little further and think, “What if my whole house had been destroyed?” To me, losing my home is the second rung on the ladder of disasters, with death and/0r a terrible prognosis being at the top.
Recently, I went through a season of pain with someone. Watching them suffer broke my heart. I felt helpless but I wasn’t.
I prayed hard. Not just in the morning either, but throughout the day and every time they’re name came to mind , which was just about all the time.
That’s the skill we hone when it’s someone else’s’ pain. We really learn how to strip aside all our fancy words; we learn how to “get real” in our prayers.
We cry out.
We don’t worry about whether we are being too honest or not. (Is that even possible?)
We set aside our “genteel” notions about prayer.
We pray a whole lot more like Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Maybe that’s the biggest benefit of pain-learning to pray better.
God bless and remember there isn’t anything you can’t say to God.