Episode 1. Some Pain is Inevitable
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As much as we hate to admit it – pain is a fact of life. We all travel through pain sometimes. So – what is it, what causes it and what can we do about it? Well – surprising …
As much as we hate to admit it – pain is a fact of life. We all travel through pain sometimes. So – what is it, what causes it and what can we do about it? Well – surprising as it may seem, God actually has a lot to say about the pain in our lives. And some of it, we can avoid altogether.
Hey it’s great to be with you at the beginning of another week and in fact at the beginning of a new series of messages that I’ve called Pain Relief For The Soul. There’s a whole massive global industry around pain relief. In fact if you google that exact term, ‘pain relief’, you get millions of search results all in about .19 seconds.
And of course that makes sense. Physically we can suffer a lot of pain. Someone who’s been in a car accident. Someone who’s had an operation. Someone who’s suffering from cancer. The pain can be acute and so for me it’s fantastic that the medical professionals and the pharmaceutical companies are becoming better and better at treating pain.
None of us wants to see anyone suffering and none of us wants to suffer pain unnecessarily either. So yep, the whole pain relief industry is a good thing on the whole. I mean my hunch is that if we did a survey today and asked people the question, if you had the power to remove just one thing from this world, the power to wipe just one thing off this planet completely what would that be?
Well I suspect that pain would be right up there on that list, don’t you? Question is, would it be the right thing to do?
My dictionary tells me that pain is physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury as well as emotional suffering or distress. And in a physical sense the one thing that we know is that pain is the body’s way of telling us there’s something wrong.
I mean if you or I had some sharp pain in the right knee, well that’s telling us there’s something wrong inside there and so hopefully what we do is we’d go and see a Doctor, have it looked at and either get some advice to rest it up or have some physio or even have it operated on before we do anymore damage.
So pain is the signal that there’s something wrong and we need to get it looked at before it gets any worse. Sometimes pain comes too late. Generally by the time someone notices the symptoms of some forms of cancer, bowel cancer for instance and lung cancer, it’s too late to treat because that cancer is too far advanced.
But mostly, mostly pain happens early enough for us to use that signal to make things better. Now, of course, when there’s trauma, a road accident, well it’s happened and pains not something we can avoid. It’s happened in an instant and the pains there.
I remember once about 20 years ago when I had boiling water spilled over my face and my chest. The pain was absolutely excruciating. And what that terrible pain caused me to do in an instant was to dive to the sink and pour cold water all over myself and call an ambulance so I could be treated.
Now that quick action means that I don’t have any scars as a result. Why did I act so quickly? Because I had some stunning medical insight because I knew that the cold water might help me avoid the scarring? No, none of those things. I moved like grease lightning because of the excruciating pain.
So as much as none of us likes pain, as much as we’d like to avoid it if at all possible, well pain actually plays an important part in our well being. I think that’s the point and if it’s true physically then it’s also true emotionally. Pain is a sign that something’s wrong.
Sometimes it’s completely outside our control. A loved one dies, a wife or a husband of many years. Well you know it doesn’t matter what we do to try and avoid it there is going to be grief and there is going to be pain and there is going to be mourning and that is going to take time to heal. And you know, the sense of loss may never ever go away.
It’s a bit like trauma in a physical sense, it’s introduced from the outside and it’s just going to hurt. In fact Gods word talks quite a bit about that sort of pain. Pain that happens through no particular fault of our own, pain from the outside in.
I mean you see a lot of that in the Bible but sometimes, in fact can I say this? Often times pain has so much more to do with the things that we do to ourselves. Things that have consequences and amongst those consequences we have pain.
Let me take you to a verse that contrasts these two different forms of pain. It was written by Peter the Apostle to people, Christians who were suffering great deals of persecution. Let’s have a look, it comes from Peters letter, 1 Peter chapter 2, verses 17 to 21. Have a listen to the contrast between the two different sorts of pain. Peter says,
Honour everyone. Love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor. Slaves accept the authority of your masters with all deference. Not only those who are kind and gentile but also those who are harsh. For it’s a credit to you if, being aware of God you endure pain whilst suffering unjustly.
If you endure when you’re beaten for doing wrong what credit is that to you? But if you endure when you do right and you suffer for it you have Gods approval. For to this you’ve been called because Christ also suffered for you leaving you an example so that you should follow in His footsteps.”
Now while I’m not about to endorse slavery or the beating of a slave that’s what was going on in the 1st century. And here we have 2 instances, the self inflicted pain, the slave does wrong and gets beaten as a result, the pain that comes through disobedience and then trauma pain, the pain that comes through absolutely no fault of the slaves.
So here’s the thing with pain. When we’re at the point of suffering pain, when we’re in that place we discover that it’s a dark, lonely place. My experience of pain, I mean that real deep gut wrenching emotional pain, the pain of great loss of relationship. On the occasion that I’ve been in that place, I have to tell you, it’s such a lonely place to be.
And it seems it doesn’t matter what other people say or do it just doesn’t have any impact. They can’t seem to make it any better. And in fact them trying to help and the fact they can’t make it better seems to make it even worse. See other people are getting on with their lives, living out what appeared to be normal happy lives.
We see that when we’re in pain and their happiness makes our pain even worse, doesn’t it? Friend here is the point. Some pain in life is inevitable, it just happens. Pain happens. It happens sometimes through absolutely no fault of our own and it happens sometimes though as a consequence of our actions.
Where there’s a clear cause and effect and we see that and then on top of the pain of what we’ve done we experience the pain of regret. You know, ‘oh man, if only I hadn’t done that’. You know the routine, we’ve all been there.
Pain happens and often when it does its acute, it tear us apart. So here’s the thing, if pain’s going to happen in life, if pain is inevitable well it makes sense to me to spend some time learning, discovering from God how to cope with pain, how to deal with pain and when at all possible how to avoid the pain.
I wonder whether a lot of the pain we experience is either because we caused it in the first place or because we didn’t know how to handle something when it happened to us. In fact it seems to me that in any and all circumstances that involve pain we can either be a victim or a victor.
Someone who has it done to us, someone who struggles through the pain with the attitude that I’m the victim and there’s nothing I can do and woe is me. Or someone who says, you know something, whether I caused it or whether I didn’t; right now I’m in pain.
And not only do I have to live through it I want to learn through it, I want to find some good in the middle of it and I am going to come out the other side of it. I am not spending the rest of my life in this pain.
You see God, in His word the Bible, talks a lot about pain. And that’s what we’re going to be chatting about over the coming few weeks. I hope it’s a journey you can join me on because we all experience pain and if God has something to speak in our pain, well friend I for one want to hear what He has to say.