I’ve had to re-learn a valuable lesson of late on the subject of pain. This isn't a lesson you want to revisit, far from home and in a country where you don’t understand the language, but God took me on this journey nevertheless. For the record, I'm actually grateful! Let me explain what happened.
Over twenty-five years ago I had a root canal treated on an infected tooth, and it has periodically continued to trouble me ever since. I’d grown accustomed to the tenderness and the earache the tooth caused from time to time, and foolishly ignored both warning signs. Finally, I relented and agreed to see a dentist, discovering to my horror, that my ‘little tooth problem’ had evolved into two abscesses.
Two attempts to fix the offending tooth failed and I eventually required surgical intervention. The pain that I viewed as a nuisance and an inconvenience was actually a gift from God, alerting me that something more sinister was going on. I ignored the situation to my peril and am now nursing a sore mouth and six stitches.
Physical pain is very unpleasant but so is inner pain that involves our emotions. This pain is a gift from God as well and an invitation to come to Him and allow Him to heal. When I told one my friends about my problem with my tooth, she told me that the surgery would hurt a lot but that I would heal quickly. I was not at all happy with her response, as it confirmed my fear that before I received any relief, there would be even more pain!
I wanted a quick fix that was painless and required no vulnerability on my part. Isn't this exactly what we want when dealing with our inner pain as well? We cry, “God just fix it, and leave me, as much as possible, out of the process”. By doing so, we actually tie God’s hands and He has no choice but to stand back and patiently wait. He needs our co-operation, just as the dentist needed mine. Our priority is healing, but God’s priority is relationship. He wants to heal us of course, but, more importantly, ‘meet with us’ as we journey together through the healing process.
Once I believed that God didn't care about my pain, but I know better now. A quote by Selwyn Hughes really challenged me. He said that ‘God not only looks down in love when we are caught up in tragedy, not only weeps with us as we are surrounded by the flames, but reaches down into the flames to soothe and support, and his own hands get scorched in the process… Some think God is impervious to the pains that afflict our lives. I tell you He is affected by them, - and affected deeply. He hurts in our hurts… Our sufferings are His sufferings’ (Every Day with Jesus Devotional). God does care about your pain and is able to heal it.
I'm really grateful for the dentist that brought me to my senses and helped me deal with my problem. When I first sat in her chair, she said to me in broken English, “Sue I understand fear and I understand pain. I will go slowly”. Her words were reassuring and I made a decision to trust her judgement.
Likewise, God knows you’re hurting and that you fear further pain, but He’s asking you to trust Him anyway. He’s the only one who can heal your broken heart and binds up your wounds. He may need to lance the wound to deal with the infection, but He’ll also pour in His healing balm and surround you with His comfort. Will you trust Him today?
Prayer: Father God, please help me to run to You with my pain and not away from You. Thank You that You understand and beckon me near. In Jesus’ name. Amen.