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The Value of Pain

A woman weeps as the bodies of 12 children in Cabaret, Haiti, are laid onto a truck bed for the morgue Sept. 7, 2008. (AP Photo/Miami Herald, Patrick Farrell)

The Value of Pain

You can’t bring a cup of cold water to someone if you’ve never thirsted
You can’t heal a heart if your heart’s never been broken
You can’t forgive a sin that you’ve never done
Or you never thought you could do
Put that bandage away it’s too small to cover the wound
– from “Cup of Cold Water” by John Fischer

When it comes to standing in someone else’s shoes and feeling what others feel, the most frequently neglected area in which we do this is in the area of pain.

We live in a society obsessed with pain relief. Doctors, druggists, chiropractors, psychiatrists and psychologists are all banded together in this fight against the common enemy: pain – both physical and mental. Rarely do you hear that pain might be a good thing, but it can be. It may not be good in and of itself, but it can be good in what it accomplishes. What can pain accomplish?

Pain opens us up to our real need.

Pain helps us identify with others.

Pain reminds us of our limitations.

Pain can open up your heart, if you let it.

Pain grounds us in our humanity.

Pain is a big part of love; you can’t live or love without it.

All those country songs about love and heartbreak may not be so trite after all. If love doesn’t hurt, then it’s not very deep. Ask Jesus about the pain of love, and He could point to a cry still rattling around the universe, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
(Mark 15:34)

We spend billions of dollars trying to get ourselves pain-free, when pain is perhaps one of the most important ways we can touch another human being. It’s one thing to share the same joy – high five at a football game over a touchdown, or share a kiss on New Year’s Eve – it’s another, deeper thing to share the same pain.

Some people are convinced that they are alone in their pain – that no one else has experienced the pain they feel – until someone comes along who has, and suddenly, they are not alone any longer. It doesn’t make the pain any more bearable, but it does make a relationship possible.

I pray that my heart never heals from these wounds. If you understand this statement, then you understand the value of pain.


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