Month 2:9, Week 2:1 (Rishon/Pesach), Year 5935:039 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 12 May 2011
I Like the Pain
Problems as Opportunities for Progress
I hope before I share my message with you today that you understand that I am not a masochist. And I hope that you will also understand that I am by no means encouraging you to be a masochist either. I believe in the resurrection and the heavenly world that the resurrected will inherit where there is no pain anymore. And the passage I have just shared with you remains my fondest desire for all of us.
"I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of Elohim (God) is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. Elohim (God) Himself will be with them and be their Elohim (God). And Elohim (God) will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev.21:3-4, NKJV).
But I am also a realist, and part of my being a realist demands that I equip those who come to me for ministry for the reality of life and our purpose for being down here. Pain may be gone at the resurrection - and praise Yahweh for that - but it has a purpose in the meantime.
Vernon C. Grounds tells the true story of the great 19th century Scottish preacher, Alexander Whyte, who as a boy badly injured his arm in a threshing machine. Instead of going to a hospital where he would almost certainly have had his arm amputated, he was nursed back to health by a neighbour. Whenever Alexander complained of his suffering, she would simply encourage him to say to himself: "I like the pain. I like the pain", because she understood that embracing pain was the first step to recovery. That is true both physically and emotionally.
Years later, when his parishoners complained that Whyte's sermons were too critically soul-searching, he would reply: "I like the pain. I like the pain". He believed that conviction of sin was needed for their spiritual healing.
I have to admit that my reflex, like everyone else, is to avoid pain whenever possible. Two decades of chronic fibromyalgia have given me the choice to medicate myself up and so dull my senses and damage my internal organs, plus my capacity to think and serve, or to embrace the pain - however exhausting - and preserve my internal organs and ability to do something useful. I often say that I would rather die young and work productively than become a vegetable and simply be a burden to others because "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35, NKJV).
It has taken will-power to embrace physical pain but I am not so sure I am as successful embracing spiritual pain. Maybe for some of you it is the other way round, I don't know. I certainly don't judge anyone. Pain, of course, can have many sources, and one of them is discipline from Yahweh for disobeying His mitzvot (commandments). Another is the darkness and cruelty in others who make us suffer because they hate what we stand for, and particularly if they are jealous of our fruitfulness. Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
Unfortunately, we often misinterpret Yahweh's purpose in allowing pain in our lives. Whilst we should. and must, prayerfully examine our lives to detect disobedience, we also need to remember that there is another possible reason for our affliction. Pain may be Yahweh's pruning of our already fruitful lives to make us more spiritually productive! Why? Because He desires that we bear much fruit so that we will both glorify Him and have a sense of real fulfilment and simcha (joy) as we see how that fruit is used to bless others!
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit" (John 15:1-2, NKJV).
Consider, then, if you are going through a painful time, Yahweh's purpose may be to make you more spiritually fruitful so that you can multiply ahavah (love) and simcha (joy) wherever you hand reaches! If that is so, embrace the pain and let it do its good work.
 Vernon C. Grounds, The Purpose of Pain in Our Daily Bread (RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1996), November 13.