Another Word…by Gus Keiser

December 5, 2017

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

                                                                                                                           Romans 5: 3-4

             In this world of acronyms and “short-for’s”, I came across one that somewhat baffled me. Do you know what the letters CIP stand for?  I didn’t, though through a little Internet snooping, I found out they are the first letters for a somewhat rare disease called Congenital Insensitivity to Pain.  This medical condition renders its victims unable to feel pain.  At first, this might seem like a blessing (for instance, think back when you’ve had to deal with a severe headache or a toothache).  Just imagine…no pain, no hurting, no suffering.  And yet the absence of pain can inevitably spiral into more harm than good.  Without a sense of pain, an individual becomes unaware of a wound that is in need of attention.  They become ignorant of impending danger that could scald their skin, pierce their flesh, or even sever a limb.  There may be too heavy a pressure, too scalding a heat source, too freezing the cold temperature, but because that person can’t feel the pain, they ignore it, thus running the real risk of severe, continuing and permanent damage to their body.

And although we may not like pain, we need it.  It has the capability of helping us, blessing us, and taking us to the point of desperation and need (and therefore to pivotal moments of prayer and rescue) that we would never experience if left to our own comfortable and avoidance-seeking routines.

Without the painful emptiness of a barren womb, for example, Hannah may have never called out to God from her distress and her, as the writer of First Samuel describes it, “bitterness of soul”, and may have never received God’s miraculous answer to her fervent prayers that resulted in Samuel’s birth, one of the greatest leaders in all of Israel’s history.  Without the pain of a heart frayed by the loss of his family, health, and livelihood, Job might never have cried out to the Lord, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you.” Without the weeping, wailing, and anguish experience by the prophet Jeremiah, he might never have known of that “balm in Gilead.”

One who knew well the pain that this world can inflict was the first martyr for Christ, Stephen.  His body, snapping like a twig under the pelting of rocks being thrown by his accusers; “gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God.” Paul and Silas, shackled to the walls of a Roman jail, with their backs freshly bruised from being beaten for their faith, discovered what the true joy of “praying and singing hymns of praise to God” is all about.  It was only through their pain that they could come to know the depths of true worship.

The same is true of the pain that is actually one of God’s mysterious blessings that our hearts instinctively avoid while we strive for endless happiness and comfort.  This pain compels us to more accurately assess the wisdom or foolishness of many of our life choices.  It forces us to seek refuge in God that we might otherwise think is unnecessary.  It becomes a teacher exposing us to lessons that only one with the capacity to feel hurt could understand.  Pain, ironically, it the key to being spared what might turn out to be even greater discomfort.  Because when we feel it, we make those beneficial, needful adjustments to our lives.

So perhaps this would be a good day to thank our loving heavenly Father for blessing us with the gift of pain.  Only heaven knows where we’d be without it.

Lord of Love…through the pains of this life; help us to better understand the blessings of your divine love and mercy. Amen.

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