I’ve learned many lessons in my short life, but one thing is for sure: we all know what it’s like to experience pain. Life can be difficult at times, and pain can come to us in different ways: physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological.
You’ve probably experienced pain in your life. Maybe you’re in pain right now. Maybe you’re in the pain of depression or the pain of feeling that your life lacks meaning; maybe you’re in physical pain; or maybe you’re in pain from what you perceive is a failure to make progress in your life.
Here’s the good news: pain can be a gift to us. The great Christian author C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (from The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis).
Let me be clear: I’m not saying that God wants us in pain. But God can speak to us through our pain. For pain can be a signal that we are unaligned with the Lord and his purpose for our lives. Pain tells us we need to reevaluate and realign. And if we’re honest, we must admit that sometimes – not always – pain is of our own choosing (a bad diet, lack of exercise, bad moral decisions, etc.).
We can use pain as a turning point in our lives. It can be a great gift to us. Think, for example, of the addict who has hit bottom: at that point the pain becomes too much, and he or she decides to chart a new course in life. Pain has accomplished its purpose.
If you’re in any pain today, don’t lick your wounds! Get curious. Receive this pain as a gift. God wants to speak to you. Your heart and soul, your true self, is crying out to be heard. Open yourself to the Lord in prayer and ask him: what is this pain telling me? Let this pain lead you to a fuller life of purpose and service, not a more constricted life of introspection and self-pity.
Art: Detail from Mural depicting C.S. Lewis and images associated with his work, Ballymacarrett Road, east Belfast, Northern Ireland, Keresaspa, 2011-04-12, CC; Feeling, Adriaen Brouwer, circa 1635, PD-US author’s term of life plus 100 years or less; both Wikimedia Commons.