OceanSide church of Christ
|Previous||Return to Articles||Next|
THE BENEFITS OF PAIN (2)
Victor M. Eskew
Pain brings physical anguish to both body and mind. It is never a pleasant thing to endure. In fact, most people seek to minimize pain if at all possible. Therefore, when we say: “Pain has benefits,” few accept the truthfulness of the statement. In fact, most want to immediately begin to argue with the statement. Yet, it is true that pain has several benefits. We looked at some of them in last week’s article. Let’s consider several more benefits of pain in this article.
First, pain will often make sufferer draw nigh unto God. When things are going well in life, we have a tendency to think we are self-reliant. Thus, we do not feel that we need God. When afflicted with pain, we realize that we are very fragile. We realize that without God’s intervention, we may not be able to endure. In fact, He may be the only one who can alleviate our suffering.
We see numerous illustrations of this in Scripture. Hannah suffered emotional pain because she could not have a child. Her affliction caused her to cry out to God. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore” (I Sam. 1:10). When David’s first child with Bathsheba was ill, David hurt. To whom did he turn? He turned to God. “…And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth” (II Sam. 12:15-16). Paul was another person who turned to God in the midst of suffering. He was afflicted with what he refers to as “a thorn in the flesh.” This caused him to seek the assistance of God. “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me” (II Cor. 12:7). There are a few who refused to turn to God in their pain, but many, including some unbelievers, will seek God when their pain overcomes them.
Second, pain can mold and develop us into better people. The process is much like the refining process of precious metals. Gold found in the mountains must pass through the hot fires of the refinery to be made precious and valuable. The same is true of a man’s character. The struggles, problems, and hurts of this life purge out the evil and cause the important elements of shine. Many qualities are developed in painful circumstances. Strength, patience, wisdom, courage, resourcefulness, humility, and creativity are a few. James addresses this immediately in his brief epistle. He writes: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3-5). Paul and Peter agree with James in their writings. Suffering refines us. Suffering makes us better. Suffering causes us to be more valuable to the kingdom of God.
Third, our painful experiences enable us to help others. We have learned to cope with pain because we have suffered. We can pass this one to others. We have also learned valuable lessons that we can exhort others to learn in their suffering. We have learned what words comfort and what words hurt people when they are in pain. Yes, our pains have enabled us to become teachers, counselors, and mentors, and caregivers to others. Paul writes about this benefit of pain in II Corinthians 1:3-4. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” Many people think they know how the person who is hurting feels, but only those who have had similar experiences can really know. They are the ones who can be a rock for others who are enduring the storms of life.
Fourth, pain enables us to be more like Jesus Christ. Jesus knew suffering. He experienced some of the worst pain that can be experienced both physically and emotionally. Hebrews 2:9 speaks of “the suffering of death” felt by Jesus. Hebrews 4:15 reveals that Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are.” Peter reveals that Jesus “suffered for us” (I Pet. 2:21). If we are to become like Jesus, we must experience and learn about suffering. Paul understood this. His understanding caused him to discuss suffering in a positive way. In Philippians 3:10, he states: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (emp. mine, vme). To know pain, is to exemplify the Christ.
Fifth, pain makes us long for heaven. Heaven is a place of absolute perfection. The curse that was placed upon the earth will not be found there (Rev. 22:3). All the anguish of the earth will not be found in that land beyond. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4). If while on earth we never experienced pain, we would not long for a better place. We would be content with this evil world. Our pain reminds us that there is a better country. Our pain causes us to long for that place of rest.
Pain can be extremely difficult to bear. It is not something that we wish for ourselves or others. However, before we curse pain, we need to look at its benefits. Understanding the benefits may help us to endure the painful circumstances of our lives better. In fact, understanding the benefits of pain may cause us to give thanks to God for some of the suffering we endure.