I’ve been listening a little more to John Mellencamp lately, just because. Not a Christian artist by any means, but some catchy tunes that you can check out. Most of his popular songs are now around 35 years ago, so I guess they would be considered oldies by now, which would then make groups like the Beatles and Buddy Holly real oldies, but music really transcends time, so age doesn’t matter much. Anyway, a lot of songs deal with love and loss and dealing with life issues, and one song called Hurts so Good reminds us that some pain is worth the cost. We live in a society that promotes pleasure and the gratification of all our desires now, and rarely promotes longsuffering and patience in putting off short term wants for long-term benefits. But in reality long-term joys can far outweigh short-term desires. What wants have you been putting off for something you may not realize until much later?
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5
Just today, I had the opportunity to go into the dentist to take care of a few cavities. Around 10 minutes after the numbing injection, drilling started, and it was not fully numb on my bottom jaw, but was not extreme, so I was offered additional medication, but I said just go ahead, and it was only 5/10 on the pain scale. A little pain never hurts, right, or is that an oxymoron? Don’t get me wrong, as I still take an Ibuprofen to take the edge off some occasional pain. Many people in our society go out of their way to avoid any type of pain, whether physical, emotional, or otherwise. There is a whole medication industry devoted to covering up physical pain, and when taken to the extreme, some opioids end up causing long-term pain and even death due to addiction. In my line of work, I’ve dealt with people and their pain on hundreds of occasions and am always amazed at how some people flinch at the smallest discomfort, and how others can deal with unrelenting pain with little change in their presentation. I always contend that the toughest people are old farmers who barely even mention that they are hurt, but just tough it out, whether it be broken bones or childbirth. What is the most painful thing you have experienced?
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8
There is even a false doctrine within Christian communities that if we are ‘good Christians’ then God will help us avoid pain and discomfort in our lives and we will ‘prosper’. We can pretend for a while, but what human has not experienced hurt, pain, and discomfort in their lives? Are any of us immune from death and the hurt of loss? No. Pain and other discomforts are parts of day to day life, though when we learn about the consequences of our actions, some hurt and trouble are definitely avoidable. Pain reminds us that we are alive and of how short life can be, therefore we need to make the most of each day and take advantage of opportunities to love others when we can. Jesus knew suffering, yet knew the cost was worth the long-term outcome. We need to look beyond our present suffering to what lies ahead as well. May you embrace the discomforts you face each day and use them to propel you forward to what lies ahead, because it is worth it.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Yours in Christ,