Home > Eternal Things > The Value of Pain

The Value of Pain

painPain is a good thing, I’ve come to realize.

I’m not just talking about physical pain, which is incredibly important all by itself. Without physical pain, we would not be forewarned of appendicitis, cancer, broken bones, or most other maladies. And if we weren’t forewarned, we would not know to search out either cure or treatment.

What I’m mostly writing about here is the pain of life; the groaning we all experience due to the fact that we live in a fallen world, and we experience the results of sin and death on a regular basis.

Romans 8:18-25 (New Living Translation)

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who His children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as His adopted children, including the new bodies He has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

It seems like every day now, news comes to me (and us) that is horrible and very difficult to deal with. A friend passes away, and his loving family is left in shock and deep grief. Someone else loses their job, or their house, or their health. Major surgeries happen weekly. Someone backslides. The economy goes in the tank, forcing many to live month to month.

I used to shy away from such news. My reaction was one of helplessness… there was nothing I could do to fix things. At times, I even felt guiltysome weird sense of personal responsibility for what had happened.

I don’t want to know this information. It’s too overwhelming, I can’t take it. I have nothing to offer the grieving or distraught. I’d rather remain detached and go about my business.

But lately I’ve been brought into a different perspective. I now see how important pain (and suffering) are. While I don’t relish it for myself or wish it upon anyone, I do see that it plays many important roles in our lives here on earth. Of course, in heaven there will be no pain, suffering, or sorrow at all. Praise the Lord, who will one day make all things new!

Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Let me share with you a few of the benefits of pain, as I’ve thought of these things:

1. Pain helps me realize the reality of Divine blessing. How can one know Divine joy without earthly sorrow? If every day is Disneyland, how would we know when true joy has arrived?

2. Pain helps me look for the eternal, rather than the temporal (Colossians 3:1-2). Eternity is the greater and permanent reality, while time was created, and is only temporary (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).  When we experience pain, we are experiencing something reserved for the realm of time. Because I know that the eternal belongs to my promised future, I not only look for it, I also long for it. I hope for it with all my soul. It’s not a vain hope, either. It’s a confident hope which is grounded firmly in the Person of Jesus Christ, the One who conquered death in His resurrection and brought “life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).

3. Pain forces me to pray and to trust God. When life by itself is vain, I look for deeper meaning (Ecclesiastes 12:8,13). When I am aware of my need, I pray. When I am without resources, I turn to the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:9). Ideally, I should not need pain to help me remember these priorities, but I’m weak and self-driven in the natural. I still have a body with sin in it (i.e. my flesh). I need reminding, and pain helps me remember.

4. Pain allows me to have experiences that will help me minister to others. God comforts and strengthens me in my pain. That gives me the comfort with which I can comfort others. Because I’ve known pain, I’m gentler with others who are in it. I can listen better and feel more. I will do less talking and more empathizing (2 Corinthians 1:3-6).

5. Pain puts me into deeper fellowship with the One who knew the greatest pain of all… our Jesus our Savior. Not only are we privileged to know the power of His resurrection, but also the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death (Philippians 3:10). What He endured, I now can relate to, although on a much, much smaller scale. My pain was (and is) His pain.

Yes, pain is valuable. Without it, the life we live would be shallow and much less meaningful.

Thanks for reading.

Bill

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Categories: Eternal Things
  1. Binky Carleton
    January 29, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Gosh, that is so true and needed, I need it. We are in a season of painful experiences. Yet, I need to be ready to demonstrate that I cling to my faith in the Lord Jesus, so that others might see Him at work in me. He promises to equip me when I need it, I keep remembering Corrie Ten Boom writing about her father saying he would give her the train ticket when she needed it not before.

  2. January 29, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Pain is literally dragging me to the One Who says He is worth more than any earthly joy.

    If it weren’t for pain, I would not bother getting any closer to my own Creator, to the One who loves me more than I realize.

    This is the degree to which I am so self-centered, so self-absorbed, and self-consumed, that it takes divine appointments with pain to pull me into His Loving Presence.

    I need pain more than I know.

    I thank God for your perspective… hard as it is to believe… Pain… is… good.

  3. January 29, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Yes… believing it is part of receiving the benefit. The truth always sets us free. Thanks so much for your feedback!

  4. January 29, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I appreciate your perspective, Binky. Yes… the Lord Jesus is on display in the lives of His people. Blessings to you.

  5. kathleen mccoy
    January 29, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Embracing the pain is such a difficult concept because we are constantly encouraging each other to run from pain or find ways to stay away from it. In so many Christian circles we are constantly asked, “Are you “OVER IT” yet?”……if pain has such value why do we try to rush our brothers and sisters through it instead of letting them by God’s Spirit experience pain for what it truly is by His power and grace?

    Your blog reminded me of Luke 6: 20 – 26…
    You’re blessed if you’re poor.
    You’re blessed if you’re hungry.
    You’re blessed if the tears keep flowing.
    You’re blessed when men hate you, exclude you, revile you, and cast out your name as evil.

    and then the Lord said…

    Woe to you who are rich
    Woe to you who are full
    Woe to you who laugh now (who think life’s all fun and games—THE MESSAGE) and,
    Woe to you when all men speak well of you…(Popularity contests are not truth contests—THE MESSAGE)…

    You know, Bill, this makes saying, “GOD BLESS YOU!” take on a whole different meaning…because we would never intend “pain” on anyone. But, if we want our brothers and sisters to know true joy in Christ Jesus, in the Beattitudes Jesus tells us this is where we find His blessings…in pain.

    I have experienced these words of Christ to be true, but it came through excruciating heart ache and pain that still remains…

    This life is terribly difficult and the tears flow often…so I am most blessed!!!!!!!

    Ecclesiastes 7: 3…Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better….

    Bill, thanks so much for sharing this blog and so tenderly being willing to approach those of us who hurt…you did it just like Jesus did, and it is so appreciated. Most pastors wouldn’t touch us with a 10 foot pole. 🙂

    God bless you, Bill…and I mean that with all the love and care of our Lord and Savior, Jesus 🙂

    In Christ,
    Kathleen

  6. January 30, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Good word Rev…

    I know that you know.

    So glad we’re neighbors.

    Blessings…

  7. January 30, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I’m glad we’re neighbors, too… we thank God for you and for the Cornerstone family. Awesome.

  8. January 30, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Kathleen, you’re right. The one in pain not only has his/her pain to deal with, but also the inability of many to truly empathize and relate. It was only when Job was restored, got his health back, and began his latter years in prosperity that he began having friendly visitors again. Only then could they try to comfort him, AFTER the majority of the pain had passed.

    The one in pain needs to realize this reality, otherwise he/she will become bitter because of unfulfilled expectations. It’s better to have one or two that DO understand, and then just wait for the others to catch up later (if they catch up at all).

    Thanks for your feedback. Always welcome, and always encouraging!

  9. Saundra Roth
    January 30, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    My heart again is renewed by God’s word and truth.
    I do believe that we are in the times spoken of in Matthew 24 and we live in this painful time.
    I find that the first thing I do everyday is fall to my knees and beg the Lord to be with me that day and help me to be faithful and not to lose heart for it is so easy to do.
    I so want to be doing HIS work when HE comes for me.
    Blessings to You Pastor Bill

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