Pain. “Pain is your friend,” I say this often to my leadership team when I teach on the processes of life and spiritual growth. Pain seems to be associated with the positive as well as the negative things of life. We experience the pain of loss and the pain of gain. There is growing pain and the pain of decreasing. There is pain in birth and pain in death. There is pain in change and transition. Pain seems to be present in every area of our lives. Why do we hate it so much? Our initial response to pain is to numb it.
As an athlete in my “earlier days,” I injured my lower back. The pain was excruciating; it demobilized me. I was taken to the chiropractor for some x-rays and treatment. I remember asking the chiropractor for some sort of prescription to stop the pain; his response was surprising as well as inspiring. He said, “I won’t give you a pain prescription because it works.” My response was, “ Wait..huh?” He went on to explain that the pain I was feeling was necessary because it kept me off my feet and allowed me to rest my back. If I numbed the pain, I’ll be fooling my body into thinking that the injury was getting better, therefore making the injury worse by not allowing the healing to take place. At that time, pain needed to be my friend.
Pain is an indicator. Pain comes when things are out of order. Whether it’s in your body, your mind or your spirit, listen to your pain and discover what needs to be brought back into order.
Pain has promise. Pain is also associated with the birth of new life. There is pain in new birth and pain in growth. Growing means change and with change there is pain. As a matter of fact, we have an everyday choice to experience the pain of change or the pain of staying the same. Either way pain is present.
Pain shapes you and forms you. The pain of getting and staying in good physical shape comes with the rewards of good health. A good shape and a healthy heart and body come with… wait for it… lots of pain.
Spiritual growth and maturity comes with pain… a lot of it. Spiritual growth comes with discipline and obedience and their avenue is always pain and suffering. This pain is simply the death to self. If Jesus experienced this, we’re definitely not exempt, “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).
Pain reveals. It has a way of revealing who you really are at that moment. It has a way of peeling away our masks and exposing our inner person. My daughter Calysta is finishing her senior year at college as a dance major. But this semester has been plagued with injury. I’m so proud of her; she’s learning to push through the pain in her feet and ankles as well as dealing with wisdom teeth coming in. My advice to her was to leverage the pain and let it form her into the woman God has called her to be. Pain will reveal the champion in her. It will form her into what she’s been destined to be.
Listen to your pain. It’ll teach you about yourself. Welcome it and make your adjustments. Don’t strive to be pain free, rather let pain be your friend. Let it guide you to a place of maturity and effectiveness. It only wants you to become the person God has called you to be. The reward of pain is always JOY – lots of it! “…For the joy set before him he endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2).