Pain Asks

You heard it said, we cannot allow the cure to be worse than the disease. In the same way, we cannot allow fear to be greater than the problem either. Add anxiety to it and fear becomes panic. When the problem of pain comes, we ask, what to do now? What will happen to me now? We would seek where it comes from but rarely ask what pain is and how it can benefit me. Pain is a sensation with a message. It can turn into good or bad suffering depending on how we understand it and use it. 

When crisis comes, we can choose to be happy up to an extent until physical or emotional pain overwhelms, whichever comes first.  Job showed us his resilience till his mind could no longer fathom as his body was exhausted. But before you conclude it’s over and this is a reason for despair, note that Job’s inner perspective was restored first which eventually led to the healing of his body. 

I know that not everyone has the same good ending.  We heard of people under duress took their lives. We need to take human pain seriously for we have our limits. Pain will reveal that to us quickly.  As the story of Job shows, he went through the experience with the support of his friends who mourned with him, listened and talked to him as he processed his sufferings for days. In the end, what the well-meaning friends could not deliver, God came to the rescue. The road to our deliverance always involves God, never human alone. Pain asks: Am I alone? Is the unlimited God in my support system? 

But you may say, I asked for help and He was silent. Believe me, there are many who blame the Healer than team up with Him. You mean God is with me? You mean the sun is still there when it’s pouring rain? Well, aside from thinking we suffer alone, this really pains me that we can’t see through our pain. Job was in the same situation. I have been there too. Doubting, angry and resentful. But we need not stay there. Pain has a message that can be a door opener.

Probably, Easter will mean differently this year.  It is time we see the meaning in Jesus’ pain. He gives us the full human experience through the cross. He shows us even the way to glory is through the death on the cross.  To ditch this pain, this cross, only enshrines the flesh that kills the spirit, not just the body. The invisible darkness inside is the one killing us. It blinds us. What do you do when the enemy is invisible? So, pain makes it visible. Our true color shows in times of crisis. Our dependence or a.k.a. addiction, insecurity, selfishness, arrogance, hatred, ignorance, etc. But then we need not rot there. Jesus did not just make our suffering His by suffering for us and with us. Best of all, Jesus did not remain defeated. He overcame death (due to sin) by resurrecting to life and opened the door to those who followed. Pain asks: has it uncovered what is rotting in you?

Thus, the greatest pain is the one that has no meaning because one misses the point. Every year we celebrate Easter, but we only learn of new ways to dress up the Easter Egg? I hope not. Easter is about hope, that there is life after a crisis. But not before taking out the bad guys first. Not at all difficult to understand. You remember seeking dental help once your tooth hurts? That in turn saves your tooth.

So whether it is physical or spiritual, there are times when pain is necessary or we would have destroyed and be destroyed. Pain also forces us to examine our perspective, priorities, and purpose for living. As an added value, be changed. After the pandemic, many things will no longer be the same, including your values, plans, even politics. Like the world after the Flood, pain can be a new beginning. Pain ask: what would your new world be like? Maybe a world more attuned to the suffering of others? More appreciative of what you already have? Less wasteful, and more prepared? Less demanding and more forgiving?

But woe to the one who takes advantage of pain for greed, to manipulate, to “educate” others for selfish ends. Those who believe in using “fake” struggle to weed out the weak for the survival of the fittest justify it. They create fear to control others. But it is never God who’d do this. God wants us to be healed, happy and holy. In God’s economy, those who make even the little one stumble, He will make them pay, in a way that only He can. Wow. In the meantime, He calls the fittest to help others to survive, to suffer with those who suffer, to rejoice with those who rejoice, and to spread truth and good news, not deception and doom. Pain clarifies. So pain asks: on whose side are you? Are you part of the solution or the problem?

Lastly, this too shall pass. So you can breath now. Jesus spreads everlasting life, not everlasting problem or pain. It runs on faith, not fear. In fact, a faith as small as a mustard seed will do. What if instead of fear, we react with faith in face of pain? It would be as epidemiologist Jeff Levin’s study shows how one’s “ongoing faith commitment” increases resilience and yields better medical outcome.” After all, real faith always benefit your soul though you suffer physically. Faith in God is life enhancing, not fatalistic. Fear and freedom are opposites. Faith gives us the land of the living and the free. Pain forces us to think, reflect, examine and presents us with a choice. Pain asks: what’s will it be today, fear or faith?