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The Gift Nobody Wants

In 1999 Dr Paul Brand and Philip Yancey co-wrote a book called "Pain: the Gift Nobody Wants." Dr Brand was born in India to missionary parents, and has spent most of his life caring for people with leprosy.

One of Dr Brand's greatest discoveries was that people with leprosy do not have "bad flesh" that just rots away. Actually, their flesh is as healthy as yours, or mine. The problem is that blood flow is restricted to certain parts of their body, and their nerve endings die. With this death of their nerve endings comes the inability to sense danger to their bodies. Lepers live pain free.

Don't you wish you could live pain free? Not when you realize that this absence of pain is the greatest enemy of the leper. Again and again they harm their bodies, without even knowing it. They feel no pain.

Dr Brand knew that lepers often went blind. Why? Because they didn't blink. They didn't blink because they didn't feel the pain that we feel when our eyes dry out. Dr Brand solved this problem by surgically attaching the chewing muscle to their eyelid -- and then teaching them to chew gum.

Dr Brand was puzzled by the fact that lepers often lost fingers and toes overnight. He knew that they weren't simply disappearing into thin air, so he commissioned workers to observe the lepers sleeping. To the surprise of the workers, they found that rats would come in and nibble the exposed fingers and toes. The lepers, who did not feel pain, never awoke to brush away the rats.

And so -- as the title of the book says, "Pain is the gift that nobody wants". And so is regret. You know what we call someone that has no regrets? We call them psychopaths! Without remorse, nothing leads them to change.

God gave us the ability to feel pain -- but he had no intention of us living in it. God gave us the ability to feel remorse, or regret -- but he has no intention of us living in it! Regret is the gift to our soul, just as pain is the gift to our flesh. But it is designed to serve a temporary purpose! God does not intend for us to wallow in it. He does not want us to feel it any longer than necessary to deal with the cause.

From a sermon by Everett McCoy, "What God Wants You To Say When You Talk To Yourself" 8/3/2008

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