The definition for pain according to Wikipedia:
Pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”It is the feeling common to such experiences as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut, and bumping the “funny bone”.
Pain motivates us to withdraw from potentially damaging situations, protect a damaged body part while it heals, and avoid those situations in the future. Most pain resolves promptly once the painful stimulus is removed and the body has healed, but sometimes pain persists despite removal of the stimulus and apparent healing of the body; and sometimes pain arises in the absence of any detectable stimulus, damage or disease.
I was teaching at Triumphant Church in Detroit yesterday morning when this concept became very clear to me. My very best friend in Oklahoma had an accident while cutting trees that had fallen during a storm. The tree suddenly fell on him, and broke his L-1 Lumbar, actually shattered it to pieces. It was horrific, but God was even faithful through all of it. The first couple of nights in the hospital were some of the roughest. His surgeon that was one of the best in the nation was out of the country. So in the mean time my friend had to wait two days for surgery with the fragments of the vertebrae everywhere. The calls from his wife were heart wrenching because of the pain and suffering he was going through.
Here is what I learned about the pain management. On the second night he was in so much pain, we were all praying but couldn’t understand why they couldn’t give him enough pain medication to keep him comfortable. His wife told me that night that one of the bone fragments was like a hair-line away from his spinal cord. If that fragment would have punctured or cut his spinal cord he would most assuredly been paralyzed. She told me that they didn’t want all of the pain to go away, so that he would not move around too much and take a chance of paralyzing himself. He of course at the time didn’t know this, but knew his pain was excruciating. So the pain was actual and potential damage. It was left in place to keep him from hurting himself even more than he already was!
The third day was the four-hour surgery. It went successful as planned. He is a proud owner of a titanium vertebrae and some hardware. All the while he has totally feeling and used of his extremities and even without any numbing or tingling. You see after the surgery he seemed relieved from the pain, he felt great. Talking to him on the phone was just like old times. So after the surgery the doctors gave him this new medicine that actually blocks the pain receptors. So now being pain-free for the most part he was able to move around and do his therapy and exercises! If the pain had not been managed, then his recovery most certainly would have been a slower process. Within a week in the hospital, he was walking on his own, and actually went home a day early. He is still recovering miraculously. I know for a fact it is by the mercy and power of God’s grace, the prayers of the saints. But I think today the pain management and the way it was handled had a lot to do with my friends positive attitude. You see this kind of faith is unstoppable. He is supposed to remain home bound for six weeks, at this rate I highly doubt it. After being home just a couple of days from a most traumatic accident, he was at one of his son’s baseball games. It’s hard to keep this man down, he has more faith than anyone else I have ever met.
Let’s bring this idea closer to home. No one wants to suffer or experience any kind of pain. But pain is result of injury and designed to keep you from further damage. You learn lessons from pain. I remember the old school way of teaching a child not to touch the stove, guess what they will only touch it once in their lives! So in a real sense pain can be a teacher to keep you out of harms way. What I realized yesterday morning while I was teaching was it might be quite possible that your current pain via be relational, emotional, etc. could be keeping you from hurting yourself even more permanently. Like as if my friend would have moved around too much, he might have paralyzed himself without knowing. In the same fashion, if you have a relational breakdown with a spouse don’t compound the pain by going out and doing something stupid. This action may result in doing irreversible damage to your relationship.
One thing for sure pain and suffering is a part of the transformation process from the carnal to the spiritual. Until we become totally free in our minds we will suffer. Suffering and going through things in this life is inevitable. Even Jesus said, in the world we would have tribulation, but be of good courage. And again St. Paul says God will make a way of escape, that you might endure the process. St Peter talked a lot about suffering in so much that he said it was a necessary element in establishing you. He says in First Peter that the God of all grace after you have suffered a while, God will strengthen, establish, and settle you. He will not allow you to suffer above that which you can take. The crazy thing is the thing you are going through that you don’t think you can, but you still are, because you CAN!
Pain is relative to each person’s threshold. If you ever visit a doctor for any kind of pain you will be asked to give a number between 1 and 10 to describe your pain. Also the length of your pain will be relative to which stage of the process you are in. If you are in the protective stage, your pain will remain to keep you from moving and further risking damaging yourself. If you are coming out of the process, then your pain will slowly dissipate as you learn to walk through and past it.
Just know for certainty today. Your ego and carnal mind is the source of all of your pain and suffering. So as you slowly become enlightened you will experience this pain of letting go and exercising your ‘new’ eyes, and muscles.