Mitigation of a malady…
March 29th, 2019
Pain is present in our lives and everywhere around us. It’s a reality of the world.
I woke up this morning with another one of those headaches that made it clear, this morning would be one of those mornings where I would have to press through. I was tempted to go back to sleep to escape it, but then my body was sore from sleeping still all night long. I disregarded the temptation to turn and seek more slumber.
A few stretches later the stiffness was improved but was still lingering. The headache however was now more pronounced and pressure building. So, I did what I could to mitigate the pain.
I’m in a group of only 3% of the population susceptible to a condition referred to by my neurologist as rebound headaches. The repeated use of over-the-counter pain relievers, within prescribed limits, triggers an ever growing, and persistent cycle of temporary relief then increased intensity of pain.
The result of the diagnosis means I can’t use over-the-counter pain medications. Doing so feeds the cycle. Breaking the cycle involved taking anti-seizure medication, which could stave off the headaches before they had an impact. This didn’t eliminate them entirely but reduced their intensity and frequency.
I consider the pain present in the world. My wife is in constant pain from chronic arthritis present in her joints and back. She and others I know struggle to get rest because lying in bed only causes the pain to flair, making slumber elusive.
When I stop and consider all those who suffer from pain in different forms; it is staggering. This life is full of the evidence of humanity’s fallen condition.
To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Genesis 3:16-19 (ESV)
Before the fall, apparently there was pain in the world, because God tells Eve that because of their disobedience that her pain in childbirth would be multiplied. If you had no pain and multiplied it by any value, the result would still be zero. Therefore, there had to be a measurable amount of pain prior to the fall, in order for it to be multiplied.
When you see the further consequences related to Adam, “in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life”, underscores the persistence of pain in our lives. This constant pain was something newly introduced into the mix because of the fall.
This is just the physical side of pain. The fall also brought a spiritual and emotional pain. The separation from God, the emotional separation of the sexes, introduced a new form of pain.
Because of the fall physical, spiritual, and emotional pain were to become part of the human experience.
There are several passages that provide comfort despite pain.
The most significant of these refuges is the Gospel itself. The fall put a separation between God and humanity, it also put a separation between a husband and wife; “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
Since we were separated in the fall, the Gospel brings an end to this separation by placing a persistent presence of God in our bodies. When a husband and wife are both bonded with God through His Spirit, their bond is strengthened and this mitigates their separation from each other.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)
As we age, we fully comprehend the wasting away that is taking place. Our inner self is renewed with each day, but new issues arise all the time.
We can focus our pain into our identity in Jesus too. He suffered for us and when we are dealing with our pain, we can associate our suffering to His. No matter how much we suffer we realize that our pain is but a fraction of that which He bore for us.
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)
He is capable of providing relief of our pain, but also, he uses our pain to glorify himself and show his power in us. Our reliance on God’s provision through pain and how we respond to it speaks volumes to those outside of Grace.
I can’t help thinking of pain without reflecting on a dear friend of mine who was dying of colon cancer. They’d done all that could be done, and the cancer was persistently eating away at him. You couldn’t help but see the pain that Steve was suffering, but there was something else that was unmistakable. You couldn’t help to see that he was in love with Jesus and had the joy of his salvation ever present, despite the suffering he was enduring.
My friends greatest concern was his family. He wanted them to know without a doubt that his pain was about to end forever, and he would be present with the Lord, free of the pain and celebrating in glory.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:4 (ESV)
Pain will end if we are secured in the Grace of Jesus. But death is not a refuge from pain if we haven’t placed our faith in Jesus. Redemption resolves the separation between us and God, and if we are redeemed, then pain is no more pain in the presence of the Lord.
However, if that separation exists and we die still separated from God, the separation from God continues through eternity and both the spiritual and physical pain never end.
We have pain while we are here. It is a consequence of the corrupt world we live in, caused by the fall. There is a mitigation of that pain available to us in Jesus, He is the ultimate in “Pain Management”.
Walk with Jesus,