Have you ever been walking through your house (or galloping, if you’re a mom on a mission) and slammed your little toe into a piece of furniture? What happens in that moment? The pain stops you, overwhelms you, and causes you to completely change your actions. You may hop around on one foot, howling like a banshee (whatever that is). Or you might stand in complete silence, grasping your foot and biting your tongue until the pain subsides. Or you may scream at the top of your lungs.
But one thing is for certain.
The pain affects you and causes you to do things you were NOT planning on doing mere moments before.
That’s the way of pain. We can’t help but be affected by it. The following points are taken from a sermon preached by my brother, Jim Brooks, seven weeks after losing his wife. He was barely two months into his journey of pain, but felt that God wanted him to share the things he was learning. Though his pain comes from losing his wife at the young age of 40, these truths apply to many types of pain, both physical and emotional. (The points in italics are taken directly from his sermon. The paragraphs below each point are my paraphrase.)
One: Pain brings a natural desire for that pain to be alleviated, and a willingness to do almost anything to lessen the pain.
Be aware that pain will open you up to do things you never thought you’d do in a desperate attempt to dull the pain. This is why so many people spiral into substance abuse and toxic relationships while in emotional pain. Even as Christians, we can turn to “less sinful” behaviors to lessen the pain, such as excessive entertainment, isolation, or eating disorders. These things may dull the pain for awhile, but they cause more pain in the long run. (Proverbs 23:29-35)
Two: Pain can cause you to have a solely inward focus.
While in pain, it’s easy to dwell completely on ourselves. We are the ones suffering after all, right? But this too will bring more pain in the end. We know that one of the best ways to be comforted is to find someone in more pain than yourself and minister to them. Thus focusing completely on ourselves results in keeping us from one of the very things that will help us heal. (II Corinthians 7:13; Acts 20:35)
Three: Pain can cause you to live in isolation.
The devil absolutely knows that we are stronger together. He will do anything he can to keep you from fellow Christians. He will highlight the hypocrisy of fellow believers and whisper the lie that no one has ever gone through what you are feeling. Though isolation might make you feel better in the moment, it certainly won’t contribute to your well-being and healing. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Four: Pain can cause you to lose all vision, goals, and desire for the future.
Pain overwhelms you and makes you think there is no hope for tomorrow. It blinds you and brings despair. It whispers the lie that there is nothing good left to live for—no reason to even get out of bed in the morning. (Proverbs 29:18)
Five: Pain can cause even loving people to lose their compassion.
How many of us have ever tried to help an animal in pain? It’s a dangerous proposition, and a nasty bite is often the result. Even though you are simply trying to help, the animal doesn’t understand and will lash out in its pain. It’s the same with people. Hurting people tend to hurt other people. It’s not an excuse, but it can be a reason. (I Peter 3:8)
Six: Pain can cause you to become suspicious, distrustful, and cynical of those around you.
This point is especially true if you are dealing with emotional pain caused by the sin of another person. Betrayal can make you think everyone will betray you. Lies and gossip can lead you to believe even genuine friendships are fake. A woman and her children may feel that all men will hurt them after being abandoned by their husband and father. It’s easy to become suspicious of everyone when you are hurt by a few people, or even one person. (Psalm 55:12-14, 22)
Seven: Pain can cause foolishness and wisdom to change places in your mind.
We can better understand how wisdom and foolishness change places when we remember Point One—Pain brings a natural desire for that pain to be alleviated, and a willingness to do almost anything to lesson the pain. Because we are desperate to find anything to make us feel better in the moment, wisdom goes flying out the window. We choose to engage in activities that we wouldn’t have considered before, had we not been in pain. (Proverbs 2:6)
Eight: Pain can steal good memories of the past.
This point is vividly seen in the life of Job. Job lost everything—his wealth, his children, his health. Covered from head to toe in painful boils, he sat in ashes and mourned. In extreme physical and emotional pain, he cursed the day of his birth. The pain of his present anguish wiped out every single moment of goodness in his life, and he wanted to die. Our pain can cause us to focus on all the bad things that have happened to us, completely obliterating all the good memories God has given us. (Job 3:1-3)
Nine: Pain can rob you of all hope of the future.
The anguish of present pain can cloud your vision so badly that you believe you have absolutely nothing to look forward to in your life. Not only that, it can dim your view of heaven, making you forget the eternal bliss that awaits you as a child of God. (Job 3:11)
Each of these nine warnings can be summed up by the biggest lie pain tells us:
This pain will last forever.
This is simply not true. As a child of God, the best is ALWAYS yet to come. Even if your life here on earth is marred by pain now, you have all of eternity—with Jesus and and your loved ones—waiting for you. There will be no more pain and anguish. God will wipe all tears from your eyes. Every moment you will be surrounded by the perfect love of Jesus. There will be a million joys we can’t even begin to imagine.
My friend, if you are in pain today, please don’t give up hope. Please know that Jesus holds you close and counts every one of your tears. He will carry you safely through this dark valley and into the light of heaven.
One day you will have no more pain.
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21: 3-4)
To view Pastor Jim’s entire sermon, click HERE.
For ordering information for Tales from Toddlers, click HERE.