Pain is a God-given discomfort resulting from wounding. It’s intended to lead to rightful treatment. Wounding may be in the physical body, the human soul, or the human spirit. Each of these locations within us can experience profound pain, telling us that there’s something unresolved in our being. The fact that something hurts is essential. It means we can begin the process of acknowledging there’s a problem and finding the solution. The writer C. S. Lewis made an interesting comment about this: ‘pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains’.
From the beginning of human life on earth we’ve experienced pain from wounds to the body, and have looked for relief. We’ve discovered substances such as opium which acts as an analgesic, a powerful way of suppressing pain. It may bring a temporary relief but, unless the wound is healed, the pain will return, often more intensely, once the means of chemical suppression has worn off.
Something similar happens with pain felt in the heart. If we’ve experienced the wounding of loss, rejection or abuse, there’ll be strong feelings, such as despair, grief or loneliness, all of which are painful. It’s common for people to develop coping mechanisms to suppress this pain, and defence mechanisms to protect the wounded place. Our ways of coping may include drug abuse, alcohol, over-eating, obsessive exercise or work, pornography, denial, dissociation, or even self-harming to over-ride the inner pain, just like the Gerasene demoniac. ‘Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones’ (Mark 5:5).
Suppressing inner pain may give temporary relief, but only adds to the problem, as it denies the healing that comes through the release of emotions. Pushing away the underlying issue just causes further distress. God wants us to come to Him to find true healing for the hurting place, and, in exchange for our pain, to find His comfort (Isaiah 61:2-3). This may all take some time. Shedding tears is very restorative, when we give the tears to Jesus (Luke 7:44). Through forgiveness of those who’ve caused the pain, and confession of our wrongful ways in trying to deal with it, God can restore our lives to a place of peace. He’s ready, at any time, to hear the cry of our hearts.
Prayer: Father, I don’t like pain, but I realise that You want to bring healing to the wounds that have caused it. I choose to trust You to search my heart and lead me on a path of true restoration. Amen.
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