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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The thing nobody talks about


My dad had a friend who was killed by a catfish. The fish was dead on the floor. How could he kill a man? This man had no feeling in his feet and never knew when he stepped on the fish, never knew when its fin pierced his foot and neither did he feel the raging infection that ran into his leg and finally poisoned his whole body. Have you ever thought to be thankful for pain? How long might you hold your hand to the fire if you could not feel the burn?

There is a rare disease called CIP, chronic insensitivity to pain. Stefan Betz, a 21 year old who has CIP said people assume that feeling no pain is this incredible thing that makes you almost superhuman but for people with CIP, its the exact opposite; he would love to know what pain means and what it feels like to be in pain. Without it, your life is full of challenges. Many of the males who have it die in their twenties from doing ridiculously dangerous things because they are not restrained by pain.(From The Curse of the People who Never Feel Pain, BBC Future by David Cox, 27th April 2017)

 According to recent statistics, the United States is number one in its use of  mind and body numbing medications. Our greatest fear seems to be the fear of feeling pain, whether it be physical, mental or emotional. More often than not, the cause of the pain is not being addressed. 

C.S. Lewis said pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasure...but shouts to us in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. Historian Philip Jenkins says that in third world countries, suffering turns people toward God. “Christianity is flourishing wonderfully among the poor and persecuted, while it atrophies among the rich and secure.” Could this aversion to pain be the reason Americans are losing hope? According to Romans 5:4 "Suffering produces endurance, which produces character, which produces hope."

In Acts chapter 20, 22-24 Paul said “I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there. Save that the Holy Ghost warns me that prison and hardship are facing me. BUT NONE OF THESE THINGS MOVE ME; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” In other words, I'm not running away for fear of the pain.

Dr. Scott Peck, psychiatrist,who wrote The Road Less Traveled, says that "life is difficult. Only when we accept that can we develop the tools to cope and move beyond it. We will have problems. The first step to solving our problems is to admit they exist. Confronting problems causes short term pain but results in personal growth. Do we respond by running away from pain and attempting to ignore or numb our problems? The problems won't fix themselves."

So what do we do with pain?  Pain can be a signal to tell us something is wrong; something needs our attention. Look for the lesson in the pain. What caused it? Do I need to change a behavior? Do I need to deal with my past? Do I need to apologize to someone and mend a relationship? 

No matter what caused the pain, remember Psalm 34:18  "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." 

 Isaiah 61:3 "to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him".

We must learn to delay gratification; to suffer now for a better future. "Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him" .Hebrews 12:2 He was looking to the future, to our redemption.

Accept responsibility for our problems. Don't blame others, don't play the victim card. Dedicate ourselves to the truth. We may be tempted to tell lies to avoid pain in the present while underestimating the future problems they will cause. You can lie to yourself and choose comfort over growth or you can choose to lie to others. Withholding the truth is the same as lying. To avoid sin, we must overcome laziness and perform uncomfortable self-reflection in order to grow spiritually.

Studies show that being able to delay gratification is one of the most effective personal traits of successful people. Are you avoiding pain or living with purpose? A life spent avoiding pain does not result in goals getting accomplished. A study conducted at Stanford University in the 1960s involved placing children in a room with one marshmallow on a plate. They were told they could eat the marshmallow now or wait 15 minutes and receive 2 marshmallows. These children were followed for 40 years and it was found that the children who were able to wait for the second marshmallow scored higher on standardized tests, had better health and were more successful in reaching their goals.

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which lasts but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The Passion Translation says we view our slight, short-lived troubles in the light of eternity. We see our difficulties as the substance that produces for us an eternal, weighty glory far beyond any comparison.

Jesus showed his scars to Thomas to prove that he was who he said he was. Romans 8:28 assures us that He is working all of our trials, all of our pain together for our good. Don't let fear of pain drive you into self-destructive patterns. Examine the pain, pick it up and look at it. Hear its message. Often the correct response will resolve pain.  Don't be like my dad's friend and let a dead fish kill you.

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