Monday, February 21, 2011

When it Helps to Hurt

I’ve been thinking about pain lately, not because I enjoy it, but because I’ve been experiencing it – a lot. It’s nothing I haven’t felt before, and it’s nothing unexpected, in fact a doctor told me a couple of years ago to expect the pain more frequently and at higher levels. And here it is. I don’t like it and it doesn’t do much for me, but in those moments when it’s hard to move, I get to think about things that otherwise get pushed aside. And sometimes if I think hard enough, it’s enough to make me forget the pain, at least until I try to move again.

Sometimes it’s obvious that the pain is for a good reason, and so we suck it up: some of the stuff the dentist does hurts, but it solves a much bigger problem (and if I wasn’t such a wimp about needles, I wouldn’t even have to experience a lot of that preventative pain). My chiropractor works me over pretty good, and the next day I’m sore; but he’s usually taking care of a bigger problem and a greater pain. I really don’t like needles, but even that little stick means something going into my body to either prevent or treat something a whole lot worse than the fleeting sting of a needle.

Exercise, which I faithfully start doing every few weeks for a day or two, leaves me sore the day after, but exercise is good for me. Or so they say.

And sometimes even the worst pain is a good thing because it alerts us to the fact that there is something wrong, something happening to our bodies that shouldn’t be happening, something that requires medical assistance –NOW!

And then I got thinking that maybe spiritual pain has the same benefits as physical pain.

Sometimes the things that seem to be bothering me are fairly minor, more of an inconvenience than anything else, and other times they hurt big-time. But I’ve come to realize that quite often this is God, giving me a shot to prevent some major pain, or kneading me, chiropractic style to work out some of the problems that I’ve brought on myself. In rubbing out a major long lasting problem, He’s causing some temporary curative pain. As the toxins leave the body, there is often pain involved, but I end up much better off than I was before.

Sometimes the pain is not the problem but a symptom that leads me to get help. It’s funny how in Christianese, we call God the Great Physician, but when we’re suffering and He could provide the healing that we need, instead of turning to Him, running to Him, we want to try every quack, charlatan and snake oil salesman on the planet first. God has the answers if I’ll turn to Him and ask for it, and, oh yeah, the hard part, listen to what He says and then do what He says.

So I’ve come to decide that pain is a funny sort of thing…. I don’t like it, but it’s amazing how helpful it can be. And when it comes to spiritual pain, I’m trying to remember that I need to turn to God at the first sign of pain, as the first step, rather than as a last resort.

How about you? How bad does it have to get before you’re willing to turn to God for help?

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