Society as a whole goes out of its way to inoculate itself from pain, as if it is some dreaded disease. Everything is about comfort and a life filled with ease. This question may have an obvious answer: is pain bad? Most would agree that it serves as a safety switch for the sake of survival. Imagine if those things that cause severe discomfort actually felt enjoyable. So, instead of jerking your hand out of a hot flame, you let it bask in its heat. What would happen to your hand? Again, the answer may be rather obvious; but, what about on the emotional level? Is pain bad? It may not be as terrible as some might think.
One thing emotional pain has in common with physical pain is that it lets you know something is wrong. This too is a safety mechanism. For some, it actually serves as motivation. More on that in a moment. Suffice to say, if people are too busy trying to medicate themselves as to avoid or run from pain, they will prolong their suffering, until they address the actual issue. As a matter of fact, the more they self-medicate, the more they will ultimately suffer. Keep in mind, self-medication goes beyond drugs and alcohol. It includes things like overeating, binge watching shows, spending inordinate time on the phone, sleeping too much, and so on. Nothing wrong with enjoying food, entertainment, spending time on the phone and sleeping; however, if they hijack your life, something is wrong. Trying to numb the pain, does not stop the emotional bleeding any more than taking ibuprofen is going to stop a severed artery from bleeding. The pain killer in this instance is not bad, but it does not solve the issue; it needs a tourniquet. Even if the pain is absent, the individual will still bleed out. The wound is still there. In this case, pressure is required to stop the bleeding, along with some surgical procedure. Likewise, sometimes pressure has to be applied to emotional pain in order to properly treat it.
Sometimes, people are unaware they’re in a bad place until they experience pain and suffering. They simply will not change; unless, something happens to them. Some either ignore or don’t recognize the volatility of their decisions or behavior as the result of their condition. A person whose heart isn’t right will say and do things that will eventually catch up to him. At some point he will experience some sort of pain as a result. If he suffers enough times or over an extended period, he may wake up so to speak. Do you remember the story of The Parodical Son? At the end of the story, this lost son experiences hunger and shame as the result of his actions, which led to his return to his father. It produced repentance. Read Luke 15:11-32 for the full story. Our amazing heavenly Father disciplines us for our own good. He doesn’t cause bad things to happen to us, but He will use them to our good (see Romans 8:28).
Hebrews 12:5-11 And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” . . . It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
It can be very difficult to watch someone we love go through hardship. During such times, it is challenging to stand down, instead of coming to the rescue. This is where the wisdom of God comes into play. Asking what the best thing to do on our part is the first step. Moreover, stepping in all the time is not as loving as we may think. People have to make their own decisions and experience the results, both positive and negative. Look to the result; not the current situation. If we think in terms of the process of someone coming to Jesus Christ or maturing in Him, it makes it easier be still when it’s the best thing to do. Of course, prayer is always a good thing, but even with that, ask God what to pray, so you can be in agreement with Him. His course of action is always the best.
While on earth, pain and suffering will be present; however, there is time coming when they will not exist. Again, think long term. If a person does not experience pain now, it would be possible for him or her to suffer for all eternity. Yet, if they endure hardship now, they may enter an eternity where they never again experience pain and suffering. This is not to say, we should want people to suffer; in fact, we are called to help people during difficult times, which includes comforting them. It is a question of time and timing. There are obvious moments when we come to someone’s side immediately, such as a loss of a family member. On the other hand, if someone is making bad decisions, while ignoring any sound advice, it may very well be appropriate to wait for a long while before extending a helping hand. Again, what is the best course of action for the individual at any given moment?
One more thing about pain: God has used it to birth ministries. He has taken terrible incidents in people’s lives, and turned them to the good for their sake and others. Those things some of you have experienced can be used to help others. He gives beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. Have you ever asked the Lord for help to be more obedient? Consider this passage of Scripture: Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). It’s not that we chase after pain; however, we should not fear it either.
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.