After a recent surgical procedure, my doctor prescribed a strong medication to take as needed for the pain. I was also advised to avoid any activities that could potentially damage the incision area. I was hesitant to take the pills due to their addictive nature and the fact that I rarely take any type of medication. My tolerance for pain is very high, but I took the pills the first day because the pain was excruciating and it was difficult for me to move around. Later I thought that if I eliminate the pain and begin to move around, I could be causing damage to my body that I wouldn’t be aware of because I wouldn’t be able to feel it.
Admittedly, pain is unpleasant. However, pain is an indicator that something is wrong. My situation reminded me that we often avoid pain at all costs–whether the pain is physical or emotional, or we do whatever is necessary to dull or numb the pain. It’s like covering the warning lights on our vehicle dashboard. If we circumvent our warning system, we could be doing major damage to our vehicles (or ourselves) without ever knowing it. How many times have we numbed our pain only to repeat the same activities that caused the pain because we did not allow the pain to force us to make changes?
Pain can also be a great teacher. We tend to grow more from painful experiences than we do from pleasant ones. Pain can cause us to make better decisions in the future. The writer of Psalm 119:71 confessed to God, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” God uses even our pain to conform us to who He wants us to be.
I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t take medication (especially something that is prescribed by our doctors as necessary) or seek counseling. We should. We just need to be certain that our strategies to cope with pain are not destructive. There is purpose in our pain. If we allow it to do its work, there can be healing after the pain.