I peeled back the bandage on my right elbow to reveal a fresh bloodied cut, which by now had formed into an oddly-shaped O. It was almost too comical that my smile remained so wide, in contrast to the palpable contortion on my friends’ faces. Yet I refused to let their reactions daunt me, and instead persisted with my obscene show-and-tell. “Want to see the other one?”
Here I was a fifth grader who at the time possessed a strange inclination to show off the wounds I had suffered from falling off my bike one summer day. Now as a young adult, I look back to those eager childhood years and wonder who that little girl was who wasn’t so easily put off by pain. Then, I had no problem opening up my wounds for others to see. But over the years, as I became more exposed to pain, parading my wounds around wasn’t so fun anymore. In the efforts to prevent further abuse, I worked hard to cover even the bandages that protected the bruises on my heart.
As long as we live on this earth, pain cannot be avoided and is a reality that we must face. The dictionary defines it as a “highly unpleasant sensation following an illness or injury or mental suffering or distress.” While pain is often an uncomfortable visitor for us to entertain, it does serve a protective purpose. Usually, when we experience physical pain, it’s our body trying to communicate to us that something is wrong, in order to keep us from experiencing more danger.
Pain sprung forth into our world as a result of sin. After Eve’s act of disobedience, the Lord tells her in Genesis 3 that “in pain she [would] bring forth children…” (verse 16). Many generations later, we have interpreted pain to be an enemy, and because of this, it has birthed us anger, resentment, fear and bitterness.
In our times of great suffering, we look to God in perplexity and wonder why He would allow us to suffer in this way. “Why me?” we cry in agony. Somehow, we have fallen into the misconception that if we just look and act right we should receive only “goodness and mercy” and be blessed for the rest of our days. So we deliberately skim the verses that delineate the features of pain and beckon us to embrace it as a long-lost friend.
Yet, when we look at the example of Christ, we will find a man who didn’t fear pain but meekly submitted to it. When He could have done anything within His power to get out of it, He chose not to (Luke 22:42, Matthew 26:39). Ultimately, it is His pain that drew Him to die for our sins; a price we could never repay.
“… But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Yes, pain hurts, but a life without God hurts more. Instead of allowing our pain to cause us to permanently look down in shame, let’s look up for the strength that we need to endure. Whether your wounds stem from a past of abuse, depression, addictions, brokenness and fear, it is before the throne of God that you find the healing you truly need. Let the love of our God embolden you with the courage to rise past your pain to meet a life filled with purpose.