I really don’t like pain! I remember staying awake all night at times as a child due to an ear or tooth ache with what seemed like almost unbearable suffering. When I was about 9 years old, I burned myself by picking up a piece of already burning firewood to place it on a bonfire at my grandmother’s farm. The pain was agonizing for at least 24 hours. Even though these physical pains are intense, they may seem insignificant in comparison to emotional pain caused in life by disappointments, rejection, shame, regret, and emotional abuse.
Many experts say this present generation is the most pain adverse generation in history. Due to advances in modern medicine and psychiatry, there are countless options for medications to ease both physical and emotional pain. Our society is the most medicated people ever whether it be depression medication, attention deficit/hyper activity medication, opiates and other pain killers, hypertension medication…you name it. We should all be grateful for the availability of modern medications when they are truly needed but have we become too dependent on taking a pill to escape pain when that pain may be an indication of something deeply hidden that needs to be dealt with.
In recent years we are seeing the establishment on school campuses of “safe zones” where people who are feeling threatened by pain can go to find refuge and protection. The thought is it is better to be shielded from anything that may offend or cause pain than have to face it directly. However, most successful psychologist and counselors have learned the best way to deal with pain is not to avoid it but to identify what is causing the pain and begin the treatment of facing it head on.
The root of most addictions whether it be alcohol and drug abuse, sexual dysfunction, workaholism, or overspending is an attempt to numb deep rooted pain.
The problem with trying to numb an emotional pain by escaping it or burying it is that it’s impossible to target one area of emotions without affecting others. When we try to numb the pain of a untreated emotional wound, we numb ourselves in all areas, losing the benefits of the positive emotions such as love, affection, joy, peace, wellbeing. You may learn more about this from a Youtube video called: The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown.
Wounds that cause pain may go numb with time or through our unconscious efforts to cover over them, but the wound is still there festering until it becomes an abscess inflecting all we are. This underlying pain will begin to affect those around us as the adage goes, “misery loves company”. Is it any wonder why we see those who are closest or most loved by someone are the ones most hurt by the one who is hurting themselves. Hurting people hurt people! Richard Rohr, who is known as one of the most popular spirituality authors and speakers in the world says, “If you do not transform your pain, you will transmit it”.
In the Bible, the children of Israel find themselves in the wilderness, complaining and murmuring against God and Moises and God sends fiery
serpents amongst them. Many are bitten and died, leading the Israelites to repent and ask God to remove the serpents. Surprisingly, God doesn’t remove the serpents but tells Moises to make a fiery serpent and place it on a pole and that whoever is bitten by the serpent should look at it will live. This story always seemed strange to me until I realized what God is showing us is we need to look upon that which causes us harm, seeking His healing and we will find it and truly live.
Have you ever wondered at the beauty, wisdom and power found in the Psalms? Most of the Psalms were written by King David during the most difficult, painful times of his life. He suffered greatly in his righteousness and moral failures, but out of the suffering came some of the most timeless and beautiful writing and wisdom. If not for the pain he endured, the Psalms wouldn’t have existed. David expressed his pain but he also learned through the pain to find healing and relief in His intimate relationship with God.
Please hear that I don’t think by any means that all pain comes from God, actually I am convinced God is the solution to all pain. God can take the most painful, grotesque and horrible things and make them into something beautiful. Romans 8:28 gives us the awesome
promise: “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.” Don’t waste your pain by covering it up or escaping it, take advantage of it by facing it, healing it, and allowing it to lead you into deeper intimacy with the Heavenly Father. You and your life will become more richly deep and beautiful than you can ever imagine.