Processing Pain

Pain is something we don’t really think about until we experience it personally or act as a comforter and encourager for someone else who is in pain. I can think of several who are currently dealing with pain, either physical or emotional. While I can hold them close in thoughts and prayers, I can’t change their pain. Even more difficult to know how to help are those who face chronic physical pain and others who have allowed emotional pain to rob them of forward motion.

Learning from Pain

Pitfalls of pain – If you allow if, emotional pain robs you of joy, colors your outlook, and chains you to the past. Emotional pain can leave scars that etch lines on the countenance, bend the spirit, and make it difficult to experience joy. Emotional pain quashes hope and causes you to look back, reliving past hurts.

Focus on the absence of pain. Thankfully, there have only been a few times in my life when I experienced severe physical pain. What I remember most about those times is the realization that, for brief moments, the pain was lessening. When that happened, I began to focus on the moments of less pain, instead of the pain itself. Gradually the time of less pain was greater than the time of pain. It’s like that for emotional pain as well, but sometimes your focus stays on the initial hurt rather than moving to the time when the hurt dissipates. You can’t really appreciate the absence of pain, if you’ve never been in pain.

Cultivate compassion for those in pain. Watching a loved one suffer physical or emotional pain may be even more difficult than experiencing the pain yourself. Once you have walked a path of pain, you begin to cultivate compassion for others. Your time of pain may not be exactly like someone else’s, but the elements of fear and helplessness associated with pain are universal.

Provides a reality check on control. Pain pulls the rug out from under any sense of control we believe we have over our lives. At some point, we all experience pain. The ability to process pain begins with realizing no one lives a pain-free life.

Look beyond yourself. Pain causes you to seek relief. Some people choose destructive means of easing pain, ways that create even more discomfort and often lead to a tragic outcome. But those who look beyond their own strength and seek God find comfort, courage, and healing.

“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 NLT

“I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain.”—Charles Haddon Spurgeon



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