My friend, may I ask you a question? Since pain typically leads to suffering and suffering often extends pain, are they not the same thing? Although it is true these are linked, it isn’t universally true that they need be. Suffering may be typical, but is it unavoidable? Must we always go through suffering after pain, or is there another place to go far better?
My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner.
What’s the difference between experiencing pain and going through suffering? On the surface these two seem the same, don’t they? Since pain typically leads to suffering and suffering often extends pain, are they not the same thing? Although it is true these are linked, it isn’t universally true that they need be. Suffering may be typical, but is it unavoidable? Must we always go through suffering after pain, or is there another place to go far better?
Here’s a story. In her biography of Dr. Paul Brand, doctor to a leper colony in Louisiana, Ten Fingers for God, Dorothy Clarke Wilson wrote, “After a long train ride, the doctor, fearing he had contracted leprosy, found a pin and pricked the small area below his ankle. He felt no pain. He thrust it deeper, until blood showed. Still he felt nothing. He supposed, like other workers with leprosy, he had contracted the disease. All that night the great man tried to imagine his new life as a leper, an outcast. As night receded, he yielded to hope and in the morning, “with steady fingers he bared the skin below his ankle, jabbed in the point--and yelled.” Blessed was the sensation of pain! He realized that during the long train ride, sitting immobile, he had numbed a nerve. From then on, whenever he cut his finger, turned an ankle, even when he suffered from “agonizing nausea as his whole body reacted in violent self-protection from mushroom poisoning, he was to respond with fervent gratitude, ‘Thank God for pain!’” (Dorothy Clarke Wilson)
Among the many promises that Jesus gives us in his word is this, “In this world you will have trouble . . . I have over- come the world.” Here is a valuable clue to the nature of pain and suffering. Note he doesn’t say he has overcome the trouble. Trouble will come. Pain will always be our companion. When we focus on the unfairness of pain, the inconvenience of it, we tend to look downward toward the inevitable, the suffering that must logically lead ultimately to death. In great pain we may even long for the end. This is the realm of suffering, the neighborhood of the world. Jesus tells us he has overcome the world, so a downcast heart set on an epitaph clings to the world and not Christ. Pain need not lead to suffering. In fact it easily lends itself to promise. When you and I suffer pain it is good to remember this. Rather than reflecting on the end of pain it is far better to cast our eyes upward in hope, as pain might be nothing more that a pathway to glory and a way of understanding how God builds Christian character. You can connect pain and suffering if you chose; but you will never be thankful for it. Jesus has overcome suffering and he has done it by conquering the pain and replacing it with the hope of none in heaven; a fair exchange for those willing to fight on through.
We pray. Heavenly Father, we often go racing through life from one task to another. Some days we are so focused on us that we give little or no thought at all about the need to focus on You. Forgive us when we spin out of control because our lives are too busy. Thank you for shouting at us when we aren’t listening. In Jesus name we pray. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
Therefore my friend, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:34) This Passing Day. May this passing day honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and be a blessing to you and everyone you meet. Find a stranger and say hello. Don't let another day pass without your day blessing someone else.
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<firstname.lastname@example.org> From Beech Springs, God bless you for Jesus sake.