Happy August, everyone!
I think I mentioned last week that I have been battling with allergies this summer. Well, this weekend, the ear pain started. At first I thought, "Meh, I'll give it a few days and see if it goes away." Then it started getting worse. And worse. Until even the thought of eating Godiva chocolate in Hawaii didn't make it better. So I knew it was time to see a doctor.
The doctor said I have an infection in my ear canal, which is a pretty easy fix, so he prescribed me ear drops. One would think this process would be simple enough, right? Nope.
I get a call from my usual pharmacy stating they don't carry those ear drops but could order them by tomorrow. I'm thinking, "Maybe you don't understand that I currently feel like an army of miniature elves are stabbing my ear canal with their miniature daggers." But instead I just say, "No problem. Thanks." I then call my doctor's office and have the prescription sent to a different pharmacy. I call to check on it a few hours later, and they tell me I'm not in the system and they can't find my prescription.
Long story short, turns out that pharmacy didn't have the medicine either, so I ended up driving to yet another one. I'm standing in the middle of the cosmetics aisle at Walgreens, and the elf-stabbing feeling is getting increasingly worse, and I am just desperate to feel better.
And I started thinking about the importance of pain.
In life, we all try to avoid pain. I think it's generally on the top of everyone's priority list right next to, "don't die." It's human to avoid pain. And so sometimes we blame God when we're hurting. We think, "God, why are you letting this happen to me? Can't you please just make it stop? If you really care, why are You letting me suffer?"
It's a hard issue to grapple with. I don't have the answers to why some people are healed and some people aren't. I know it's not because the un-healed people are loved any less by God than the healed people... despite how convenient it us for us to think that if our faith is strong enough, nothing bad will ever happen.
But I do know this. Pain is important. Pain serves a purpose. Pain points us toward redemption.
When I was standing there in Walgreens so miserable, I would've given my shoe collection for some medication. I was desperate. We're talking, worse pain than my wisdom teeth removal surgery. And in that moment, I realized how serious my infection was.
Had I not experienced that pain, I probably wouldn't have gone to the doctor. I definitely wouldn't have made it a priority. And meanwhile, the infection in my ear would have continued spreading... to the point it could have affected my hearing.
The absence of pain, then, affects our ability to hear clearly.
My pastor is diabetic. Several years ago, he walked for a month upon a broken foot without realizing anything was wrong. As a result of that experience, he had to be in a wheelchair for almost a year as the tiny bones of his foot healed, and he also faced the possibility of an amputation (which, thankfully, did not happen).
The fall is real. Sin is real, and so is its consequence.
If God took away all the pain in the world, would we take that truth as seriously?
For those of you who have children, imagine what their lives would be like if they felt no pain. They would be paralyzed, and they would injure themselves in such catastrophic ways if they never learned that oven burns hurt and fire ant beds can't be played in.
God is looking out for us by allowing us to feel pain. He doesn't want us to become numb to the wages of sin. He doesn't want us to become paralyzed in our lives, to lose our desperation for redemption. Because if we stop believing the infection is real, we'll never go to the physician--meanwhile, we'll be wasting away, and our purpose will go unfulfilled.
I hope this encourages you with whatever you are facing today. So often, people are quick to dismiss the real problems of the world, and I think that does a disservice to the redemptive power and the great love of God. God's got you, wherever you are, and He's not letting go.