OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            We live in a society that seeks to be pain-free.  The moment people experience the least little ache, they take an over-the-counter pain reliever.  If the pain does not go away quickly, they will call a doctor and schedule an appointment.  The doctor will also prescribe a pain-reliever.  When taken, pain-relievers usually cause one to be comforted.  If they are not, further actions, including surgery, might be taken.  Individuals will go to great lengths to remove pain from their bodies.

            Nobody would choose pain over comfort, but we need to understand that there are benefits to pain and suffering.  Let’s examine some of the benefits of pain in this article.  First, pain alerts us to a problem.  When our body hurts, we immediately know that something is not right.  We begin to monitor what is taking place.  If the pain continues, we seek counsel.  Most of the time, the cause of the pain can be found.  When it is found, it can be taken care of before it becomes a major issue.

            Second, pain helps to remind us to avoid things that harm us.  Most children have touched a hot stove during their years as a toddler.  After this, the child understands that hot stoves are to be avoided.  They will walk by them, and say:  “Hot, hot.”  Some young people have been incarcerated in their teens for a crime.  The thirty or sixty days spent in jail helped them to understand that “crime does not pay.”  They get out and are revolved to never engage in those criminal behaviors again.

            Third, pain helps us to appreciate comfort.  Many individuals have taken mission trips to foreign lands.  While in a less developed nation, they have to “rough it.”  Cold showers, buildings without air conditioning, and riding in a cramped, hot van are the norm for a week or two.  Perhaps their beds are uncomfortable and the food is less than desirable.  The experience of these “painful” things causes them to appreciate the comforts they have in the United States.  Had their “suffering” not occurred, they might have continued to take their comforts for granted.

            Fourth, pain can teach us some very important lessons.  It can teach us about the real world.  It can teach us about others.  It can teach us about ourselves.  It is interesting that Job’s pain taught both Job and Satan a major lesson.  Satan accused Job of serving God only for the blessings he was given.  He said that if Job had to suffer that he would curse God to His face.  Satan learned that such was not the case.  There are righteous people, like Job, who truly understand who God is.  They know that He is worthy of praise and service just because He is God.  They will serve God for absolutely nothing.  Job 1:22 is an extremely telling verse.  “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”  Yes, lessons are hidden in painful experiences.  If we will look for the lessons, they can teach us valuable things.

            Fifth, pain can bring positive change to a person’s life.  Not everyone lives in a way that makes use of their potential.  In fact, some cast their potential aside and allow the dark forces of this world to take hold of their lives.  Homelessness, drunkenness, drug addiction, dependency upon others, and a life of crime can be the end of a profligate lifestyle.  But, it is in those sad, distressing, and painful situations that some have made positive changes to their lives.  We see this in a story told by Jesus in Luke 15.  A young man took his inheritance and left his father’s home.  He wasted his substance with riotous living (Luke 15:13).  He was in want (Luke 15:14).  He had to feed pigs (Luke 15:15).  He even ate “the husks that the swine did eat” (Luke 15:16).  It was while he was in this affliction that change began to take place.  The key verse of the story is Luke 15:17.  It begins with these words:  “And when he came to himself…”  He saw his plight.  He was fed up with his pain.  He made some serious resolves.  He repented, returned home, and confessed his sins to his father (Luke 15:18-21).  In the end, he was restored to his place as a son in his father’s household (Luke 15:22-24).  This man’s life was radically altered because of the suffering that he experienced.  Many in our world could tell of similar experiences. 

            No one would deny that pain is a terrible thing to experience.  Too, no one would wish pain upon another.  The reality, however, is that all of us will suffer some type of physical or emotional pain in our lives.  When we are forced to hurt and suffer, we need to remember that our afflictions have benefits.  Let’s use our pain in positive ways.  Let us never allow our pain to turn us from the holy God we serve.