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The Gift of Pain

January 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Challenges, Fr. Najim, Spiritual Direction, Suffering

The Gift of Pain


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.

CSLewismuralHere’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.).

AdriaenBrouwerFeelingWGA03308 for post on the gift of painWe 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.


Originally published on Father Michael Najim's former blog.

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About Fr. Michael Najim

Fr. Michael Najim is a priest of the Diocese of Providence. He is Pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Westerly, Rhode Island and has been the Director of Spiritual Formation at Our Lady of Providence Seminary and Chaplain of LaSalle Academy, a coed Catholic high school in Providence, RI. He is the author of Radical Surrender: Letters to Seminarians, published by the Institute for Priestly Formation. He also blogs at Fr. Michael Najim's Blog.

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  • shieldsheafson

    Physical pain admonishes us, e.g., the beginnings of a cancer. Moral pain makes us desire a life superior to that of the sensual. Pain makes us desire God.

  • Catherine Nagle

    Thank you so much, Father Michael for your beautiful reflections and those of the great Christian author, C.S. Lewis, as well! This is my favorite sermon of all! I can’t edify this enough. I will do my very best to share this blessed wisdom that truly bears hope for us all!

  • Judy Silhan

    Very insightful reflection, and one which I will pass on. I, too, enjoy the wisdom of C.S. Lewis.

  • Karen Hanrahan

    Having taken a very bad fall, and cracked a rib and bruised my tailbone terribly, I have been in pain for nearly 3 weeks now…….are you trying to tell me that God is punishing me for something I am not even aware of? Yikes, I hope not!

    • LizEst

      Karen, I’m sorry for your fall and for your pain.

      That is not what Father wrote. Those are your words. He is saying God is trying to get your attention. Ask Him for guidance. He did the same thing with St Ignatius of Loyola and many saints. It was when they were ill, or recuperating, that He finally got them to listen to Him.

      • Karen Hanrahan

        I appreciate your reply, Liz…….I understand Ignatian spirituality, as I am in the middle of months of reflection amidst the spiritual exercises. I guess I believed that I have been trying to listen to God throughout this journey without having to be knocked down so that He could “finally get me to listen to him”.

        • LizEst

          Keep listening. God is always speaking to us … even when we may not discern it. He can use everything for this. God bless you, Karen, as you continue in your reflections.

    • empathylouis

      My understanding is that Christ’s suffering led to the redemption of suffering. If suffering is borne patiently in union with Christ, by grace, it becomes a means towards a greater reward. That said, there can be many reasons for suffering. It could be used to facilitate within us a want for God or it could be used to connect us with Christ’s suffering. It could also be used for punishment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean punishment for your sins. The sins of the world could lead to suffering.

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  • Jeanette Steiner Grayhek

    Pain can also be a sign of spiritual growth. I am a student of Carmelite spirituality and anyone who has read St. John of the Cross’s Dark Night, (or Job) knows that intense spiritual suffering, as well as external oppression, can be a precursor to spiritual marriage with God.

  • evelyn herrera

    I don’t understand , My Godmother died in intense pain from cancer and she followed God all her life, My daughter is in intense pain from her kidney and wants to work and lead a normal life but cannot from her kidney problem , what lessons can be found there.

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  • Maria

    I suffered brain damage several years ago that has changed my life completely. One way I have looked on it is Jesus suffered pain for us , by ‘sharing’ that pain with Jesus it is God’s way of bringing me/us closer to him. Saint Padre Pio has helped me through all this.

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