Pain, Pain, Pain

I recently Googled the trailer from the Julia Roberts movie “Eat, Pray, Love.” Julia’ s character had gone into her bathroom in the middle of the night, shut the door and prayed the only way she knew how. She said prayer was so remote to her that she started to say “Hello God I’m a big fan of your work!” Julia’s character was in pain.

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Pain Slows Us Down

I have lived a relatively pain-free life so far, at least physically. (Writing about emotional or spiritual pain would be a different subject…and post). But three years ago, my wife suffered what we came to call the “summer of pain.” One day she was leaning over to make a bed, a few weeks later she was crumpled on the bed in overwhelming sciatica pain. Watching someone you love endure great pain is its own kind of suffering.

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God’s Comfort in Our Pain

 “The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing” (Isaiah 51:3-4).

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Living With Pain

Pain, the topic of this month’s blog posts, is a challenging subject because it is at once so broad and so specific.

Sometimes pain builds muscle (“no pain, no gain,” a spinoff of Ben Franklin’s famous quote). Other times it signals deterioration.

Pain attends new and wonderful things, like the birth of a child.  Pain also signals the onset of disease and death.

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Thankful for Pain?

In counting your blessings this year as you sit around the Thanksgiving table will painful times be on your list?  It’s easy to be thankful for the things that bring us pleasure; like family, friends, good food, a roof over our heads, health. But often those things that bring us joy, also (and sometimes simultaneously) bring us pain. But, is it possible for the things that bring us pain to reveal a deeper or hidden joy?

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The Problem with Problem of Pain

I once heard the noted counselor Walter Trobisch say, “without pain there is no growth.” It sounded wise at the time and I have quoted it many times. It fits well with the mantra of athletic and fitness coaches, “no pain, no gain.” Ascetics throughout history have endured self-inflicted pain as a means of spiritual discipline and many times in my life I have experienced C.S. Lewis’s powerful insight that “pain is God’s megaphone.” Pain really seems to be a good thing!

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Pain and Submission

Last Christmas Eve I got the stomach flu at the Muir Woods visitor’s center in Northern California.  Outside of the bathrooms there is this really cool wooden carving of a life sized Bear cub.  I clung to its neck while I violently vomited all over its backside.

The drive back to my hotel was one of the worst hours of my life.

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Prayer, Pain and Control

Pain has a lot to do with prayer. If I pray that my pain will go away, and it doesn’t, what does that say about prayer? What does it say about God?  What does it say about the way I pray?

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Shifting Our Attention

Numerous studies have been conducted concerning pain and prayer, many of which confirm the efficacy of prayer. Even if we do not experience miraculous healing, there is a practical benefit from prayer. Pastor and family doctor Harold Betton of Little Rock, Arkansas says, “Prayer enables you to take your mind and place it in a new perspective.”[1]

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The Problem of Pain
By |   November 1, 2011 |   in Blog, Pain |   2 Comments

‎”Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis

At first, I admit, I was a bit hesitant to dedicate an entire issue of Conversations Journal to the issue of pain—yours, mine, the world’s. That sounded a bit, well, depressing, and I wasn’t certain that a full 96 pages of wrestling with the question of theodicy would be uplifting the kind of uncertain times in which we live.

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