Thursday, June 08, 2006

Would you eliminate pain if you could?

This is not intended to be a thorough theology of suffering. Nor is it intended to solve the perennial philosophical problem of pain. It is, however, intended as an open musing on our propensity to avoid pain. (Thank you Nick, from Loganville, GA, for sharing your story of pain over lunch yesterday. You are now a better man than when we met three years ago. I delight that you are no longer pain-free.)

Pain is generally our greatest vehicle to humility, prayer, and gentleness. I'm not sure I'm willing to do away with it. Pain is the inevitable result of freewill. Without freewill, we lose much of what it means to be human, to have dignity, to be self-determinate beings. I'm not sure I'm willing to do away with that. Pain is our greatest warning that something is terribly wrong. Without it, both our physical bodies would be destroyed as well as our souls. Without pain there would be little impetus for repentance, self-care, or transformation. I'm not sure I'm willing to do without it. Pain puts us in our place. It causes us to realize our creatureliness and cry out for the presence of God. Without it we would feel autonomous, independent, and arrogant. Pain appears to be a necessary concomitant of and foundation for self-abnegation. I'm not sure I'm willing to do without it. In God's upside-down economy, perhaps pain is a great, albeit underappreciated, gift.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without pain are we not doomed to be the leper who rubs his nose until he has no nose to rub? By knowing our own pain (physical, emotional, whatever) we are not only reminded of our own finiteness, but we are also able to imagine the pain experienced by someone other then ourselves, thereby adding fuel to our compassion and driving us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Pain in this world seems good, though it is one whose duty is to work itself out of a job, longing for Rev. 21 when the old has passed away, and pain with it.

That being said, why do i still try to avoid it when at all possible?

June 8, 2006 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger Andy Rodriguez said...

Eh, I would rather do without it! :)

2 Corinthians 11:21b-12:10

June 8, 2006 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Jacob Paul Breeze said...

As one who is no stranger to pain, I sometimes wonder what life would be like if a few events or relationships were different. I think I can say with integrity that I would not do away with pain. *Mark's first paragraph makes me err on the side of brevity.

June 9, 2006 at 2:18 AM  
Blogger Jeremy Bacon said...

I talked to a guy today who said his polio was the greatest thing God ever did for him. It got his attention. I'm thinking of a lot of people who are in a lot of pain. But they won't turn their attention to God, so he just keeps thumping them. Maybe that's been my (rather minor, in the grand scheme of things) back trouble. If it turns me to God, that's great. I have to admit, though--I hope I learn the lesson and it goes away!

June 15, 2006 at 9:28 PM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

I would not eliminate pain... except for tooth aches and kidney stones...

August 24, 2006 at 5:17 PM  

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