Pain Prevents More Pain
A couple years ago I watched a story on television about a girl who was born with a damaged nervous system. Soon after her birth her parents learned that she would never feel any pain.
The first thought that ran through my mind was that this girl was lucky. I thought about how wonderful it would be if one of my children could live their entire life and never feel pain. As it turns out, its not very wonderful at all.
Do you know what happens to a baby who cannot feel pain? They scratch their eyes out. Literally. This girl was only a couple years old and almost completely blind because she picked at her eyes so much as a baby. It didn’t hurt, so she didn’t stop.
In addition to this, she had already managed to break more bones than most adults do in their entire lifetime. She did this by running full speed into walls and furniture. She had bitten a significant portion of her tongue off, was constantly chewing her lips to shreds, and was always in danger of burning or cutting herself without realizing it.
Although pain hurts, we experience pain in order that we might hurt less. Its our body’s way of saying, “Don’t do that!” Pain can be the difference between a scratched eye and a blind eye. Pain can be the difference between a sore tongue and a severed one.
No pain hurts more.
Yesterday the first swine flu related death was confirmed in the United States. A young Mexican boy died in Houston, TX. This is the same city my family and I live in. Many of the confirmed cases of swine flu have been found in Texas. This problem isn’t in another country, across a vast ocean where I can easily forget it. This problem is taking place practically in my backyard.
It’s too early to know just how bad this virus will be, but it in a situation like this a person can’t help but ask themselves, “Why?” Why is there suffering, sickness, and disease? Why is there death? Why does God, who sent His only Son to die for our sins, allow such evil things to exist and threaten our lives?
I believe that one answer is this: God allows these things to happen – these painful things – because no pain hurts more.
Would we understand just how dangerous and destructive sin is if we lived pain free lives? I don’t believe we would. I don’t believe we would until it was too late. The little girl who felt no pain didn’t understand the consequences of what she was doing until the ultimate damage had already been done. Likewise, in a world without pain and suffering a sinner like me would not understand the consequences of my sin until I found myself in hell.
In this way I believe that sickness, disease, and physical death is the “pain” that exists in this world so that we might hurt less. Specifically, so that we might recognize the severity of our sin, repent, and run to Christ and be saved from spiritual death. In this way, I believe that a pain free world would hurt more.
Christ doesn’t promise pain free lives. He doesn’t promise protection from viruses such as the swine flu. He promises something better: ”I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26).