Two nights ago, an inexplicable pain on my right side began to make life difficult for me. It's getting better now, but when it first began, I could barely move without crying out. I couldn't sleep, because when I sleep, I move, I couldn't move because it hurt, and by the time I got any "rest" I had to get up and go to the office. Things didn't improve much as the day wore on, but I had to press on, though I went home an hour early because I was so exhausted. What I realized is that, what is likely a muscle strain, could have very easily stopped me in my tracks. Humans don't like pain, though I seem to remember a movie saying "Life is pain, anyone who says different is selling something." We do our best to avoid pain as much as possible, making convenience after convenience, medicine after medicine, treatment after treatment to avoid pain and its effects as much as possible. Yet, if we're honest, pain is our fault, a result of our fall from Grace. We brought pain in to the world, and until Jesus re-enters the world to make it new, we must live with the effects of our rebellion against His original design.
What does pain draw us to? Whether physical, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise (if there is an otherwise), for some, pain stops us in our tracks. When we suffers loss, for example, many of us become like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, sitting in the room where we were abandoned by the one we loved (for those who never read it, Miss H literally never changed from her wedding gown, the cake was still in the room rotting, as were the flowers and decorations; the room was rotting away, and she was rotting with it). She became spiteful, vengeful, and let her pain trap her, ruling every aspect of her life. She had great wealth, but enjoyed none of it. Life stopped at the moment her pain began. Or we can be like Job, giving glory to God, questioning, and still coming to one conclusion: I may not understand why any of this is happening to me, but in the end, I am drawn to be closer to God than I was before my pain, because He is good in spite of what I am going through.
I say this because many of us are dealing with pain right now, some of it far more than we can bear. Yet we can't let our pain rule our lives and stop us from living them. When our pain does not draw us closer to our Creator, we're willfully missing out on loved ones, experiences and lessons that He is trying to provide, and we're waving off His help when He is trying to offer. I think of Anna, an often overlooked person in the Christmas Accounts of Scripture, a prophetess and widow, who, after her husband passed on, spent her days in worship and service of the Lord, and, because the Lord was master of her pain got to see and hold Messiah! What is your pain causing you to miss out on? Turn your eyes to Jesus! Psalm 43: Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me! For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.