My day had been a long one that started at 5:00 A.M. and ended at 11:00 P.M. My body ached all over, which was nothing new. Pain is part of the end of every day for me. I was exhausted, so I laid down, pulled my covers over myself and prepared to go to sleep. Then I heard myself say out loud, "Lord, I'm tired of hurting."
My words surprised me because I hadn't planned on speaking them—they came out of my mouth unintentionally. Then my next immediate thought was, "It would be awful to not feel pain."
The contradiction of my words and thoughts confused me, and I wondered what resolution I would find myself with. I felt inclined to feel thankful for my pain but was too tired to engage in that change process at that moment. So I closed my eyes, and then, as is usual for me, I slept fitfully through the rest of the night.
I woke the next morning and sat down to write. I asked God what He wanted me to share with you, and my words and thoughts from the previous night immediately came to my mind.
As I focused on what I felt to tell you I asked myself, "What is pain?" Pain is "a basic bodily sensation induced by a noxious stimulus, received by naked nerve endings, characterized by physical discomfort (as pricking, throbbing, or aching), and typically leading to evasive action," and pain is an "acute mental or emotional distress or suffering." (See the full definition of pain from Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary at merriam-webster.com.)
After reading these definitions I considered what my life would be like without pain and concluded it would be numb. Numbness is a plight of leprosy. A person with leprosy lacks feeling in their nerve endings, so they cannot feel pain. And since they can't feel pain they often injure themselves without realizing it and then fail to address their injuries. Therefore, lack of feeling pain is one reason for the disfigurement that leprosy causes.
Emotional numbness is the result of the inability to feel emotional pain, and the plight of emotional numbness is emotional dysfunction. Grief includes pain, and without pain the grieving process would be incomplete. Feeling numb to emotional pain also means a lack of feeling any emotion, even those emotions that feel good. In essence, emotional numbness is emotional leprosy.
As painful as it is, I would lack much if I felt no pain. Consider these thoughts my friend shared with me concerning pain:
Pain awakens new understanding.
Pain helps us to let go of the damaging desires and expectations that keep us rooted in the world.
Pain is essential to carrying our cross as we find our way with Him.
Pain is sometimes necessary and should not be feared even though our humanness makes fear inevitable.
Pain is endurable when we pray for His help and strength in the midst of it.
I'll continue to ask God to heal my body from the cause of my pain—Jesus did endure a beating for the sake of our healing. (See Isaiah 53:5.) But, even so, I must learn to thank Him for my pain. Though it is in disguise, pain is, in fact, a blessing. The ability to feel pain is better than feeling nothing at all.