What good is pain anyway! Couldn’t God accomplish a whole lot more in our lives if we were tuned into Him through a comfort rather than a pain? When we are suffering in pain it is pretty hard to think about anything else other than the pain. Pain has a way of doing that, especially that of the blinding variety.
Dr. Paul W. Brand, the noted leprosy expert who was chief of the rehabilitation branch of the Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana, had a frightening experience one night when he thought he had contracted leprosy. Dr. Brand arrived in London one night after an exhausting transatlantic ocean trip and long train ride from the English coast. He was getting ready for bed, had taken off his shoes, and as he pulled off a sock, discovered there was no feeling in his heel. To most anyone else this discovery would have meant very little, a momentary numbness. But Dr. Brand was world famous for his restorative surgery on lepers in India. He had convinced himself and his staff at the leprosarium that there was no danger of infection from leprosy after it reached a certain stage. The numbness in his heel terrified him.
In her biography of Dr. Brand, Ten Fingers for God, Dorothy Clarke Wilson says, “He rose mechanically, found a pin, sat down again, and pricked the small area below his ankle. He felt no pain. He thrust the pin deeper, until a speck of blood showed. Still he felt nothing...He supposed, like other workers with leprosy, he had always half expected it...In the beginning probably not a day had gone by without the automatic searching of his body for the telltale patch, the numbed area of skin.” All that night the great orthopedic surgeon tried to imagine his new life as a leper, an outcast, his medical staff’s confidence in their immunity shattered by his disaster. And the forced separation from his family. As night receded, he yielded to hope and in the morning, with clinical objectivity, “with steady fingers he bared the skin below his ankle, jabbed in the point--and yelled.”
Blessed was the sensation of pain! He realized that during the long train ride, sitting immobile, he had numbed a nerve. From then on, whenever Dr. Brand cut his finger, turned an ankle, even when he suffered from “agonizing nausea as his whole body reacted in violent self-protection from mushroom poisoning, he was to respond with fervent gratitude, ‘Thank God for pain!’” (Dorothy Clarke Wilson, Ten Fingers for God, pp. 142-145)
The comfortable whispers and pain shouts. Sometimes, in order to get our attention, God needs to shout in our lives. The methodical process of living often puts us into a rut of sorts. We find ourselves simply going through the motions, not really ascribing anything of great value to God in the process. It becomes our process and our path, not His. It is at times like this when a gentle whisper may not be “loud” enough to get our attention. That’s when God will often insert a painful message into our lives. “Know that I am your God and that all things are under my control, not yours.” Our almost maniacal work ceases and we are forced to focus on the pain and reflect on the crazy paths we cut through life attempting to reach our goals. It’s unfortunate that it sometimes takes pain to wake us up. Like the Philistines who did not grasp at first the seriousness of their situation, it may take pain to awaken us to the fact that God is trying to send us a message. “Hey! I need your attention. Look at me!” Isn’t it great to know that God cares enough to shout at us occasionally through pain? It’s at times like these when the pain is truly blessed.
Related Text Illustrations
Contributed by Tim Zingale on Dec 11, 2000
A poem by Pastor Clinton Meininger from his book "Springs of Living Waters"tells us of the mysteries of life. He says: "All around me, Lord of life, My world is tumbling in. There’s nothing sure and nothing safe From gossip, greed and sin: And ...read more
Contributed by Owen Bourgaize on Oct 18, 2000
The Moravian Brethren, 200 years ago, formed one of the greatest missionary movements. Two of their members heard of a leper colony in Africa where no missionary was allowed to enter and then return home for fear that the disease might spread in Germany. They volunteered to go into that leper ...read more
Contributed by Gregory Dawson on Jan 13, 2001
I remember reading about a little girl named Annie who in 1876 was ten years of age. She was put into a poor house for children called the Tewkesbury Alms House in Massachusetts. Her mother had died and her father had deserted her. Her aunt and uncle found her too difficult to handle. She had ...read more
Contributed by Rich Young on Jan 18, 2001
One day Linus and Charlie Brown are walking along and chatting with one another. Linus says, "I don’t like to face problems head on. I think the best way to solve problems is to avoid them. In fact, this is a distinct philosophy of ...read more
Contributed by Rich Young on Jan 18, 2001
THE AUTHOR WILL MAKE THINGS CLEAR Author Marshall Shelley, who suffered the deaths of two of his children, writes in Leadership: "Even as I child, I loved to read, and I quickly learned that I would most likely be confused during the opening chapters of a novel. New characters were ...read more