Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gift of Pain

What if there wasn't any pain in this world? What if humans, animals and birds didn't have the ability to feel pain? At the surface, we might think that it would be wonderful to live a totally pain-free life. But is it so?

Few years ago, I read a book called "Gift of Pain", written by Dr. Paul Brand, who was a medical doctor and a missionary to India and worked amongst people suffered from leprosy. Leprosy starts with the symptom of losing one's ability to feel the sense of touch and a corresponding inability to feel pain and temperature.

What happens if you lose the ability to feel pain? You will injure yourself badly. You will get disfigured by self-amputation. The damaged bodies of lepers are mostly a result of self-inflicted injuries (i.e stepping on nails, touching something too hot). As part of the treatment, Dr. Brand offered custom-built footwear for the patients to wear all the time, so that they won't self-inflict injuries.

Though the book starts with the premise of bodily pain, it goes beyond that into emotional pain and spiritual truths as well. It is the first time my perspective shifted to see pain from a different angle - pain as a gift. I agree, no one likes pain, yet if you think, isn't pain a gift?

What if we didn't feel any pain when relationships are broken? What if we have a numbing insensitivity towards death, rejection, unforgiveness, hatred and ridicule? Would we ever appreciate life, acceptance, forgiveness, love and peace?

I think pain is essential. Life, with all its challenges is a gift. Without pain, I think, we wouldn't even know we have a valuable, beautiful life. Can you imagine living in a pain-free, fallen world? We would easily endanger ourselves. In a world filled with a million ways of instant-gratifications and easy methods of escapism from sufferings by depending so much on pain killers and mind-numbing chemicals to alter our thinking, have we ever thought that there might be a purpose for the existence of pain? And there might be a solution beyond the mere painlessness?


Ike said...

These bad things happened to you because I intend to work it together for your good (Romans 8).
These happened so that you would rely more on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1).
This happened so that the gold and silver of your faith would be refined (1 Peter 1).
This thorn is so that the power of Christ would be magnified in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12).

God cannot make plain all he is doing, because there are millions and millions and millions and millions of effects of every event in our lives, the good and the bad. God guides them all. They all have micro purposes and macro purposes. He cannot tell us all of them because our brains can’t hold all of them.

Trust does not demand more than God has told us. And he has given us immeasurably precious promises that he is in control of all things and only does good to his children. And he has given us a very thick book where we can read story after story after story about how he rules for the good of his people.

I make "no" apologies for hating the health/wealth gospel. I don't think my wife's battle with cancer is living her "BEST LIFE NOW". Maybe Joel wrote that book for the unregenerate... because they are living their best life now.

Trent said...

I would only say that God's ultimate goal is for the glory of His name.

Rich said...

Being intimately acquainted in and with the fellowship of His sufferings somehow doesn't sound like a pain-free magic carpet ride!

I so agree with you Bro :)

Joel Brueseke said...

Great words, Bino! I see many people these days denying the reality of the 'gift of pain,' saying that it can't possibly be of God, but indeed I agree that it's a wonderful gift. Of course, it doesn't feel wonderful... LOL... but as you say, it's essential.

Lynda said...


Great article! Pain also drives people to get the help they need that they otherwise may just pass up. It gets them to reach out and in turn God can use other people to help them which builds relationship between them, which pleases God. I think sometimes medicine is just given when really someone needs to just work though something, so it actually hinders their healing and just gets them by.
I've read "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" and another book by Dr. Paul Brand and, thanks to you, am now looking forward to reading this one. I was blessed to travel to India 2 summers ago and actually visit the Leprosy hospital that was started by Dr. Brand. It was a treat to later visit with the people at the Leprosy colony nearby. We also visited the onsite store and place where they make sandals out of old tires, I even got myself a pair,I'll tell you, they are pretty fashionable for old tires.


Bino M. said...

Lynda - I have read "Fearfully and wonderfully made" as well. It's one of my favorite books. I am originally from India, so I could relate to many things in both the books.

Great to know that you visited those places. Indeed, it must have been quite an experience!