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“Ouch and Thanks A Lot!” 1 Samuel 5:6-10 Key verse(s): 6:“The Lord’s hand was heavy upon the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation upon them and afflicted them with tumors.”

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.

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