Conditioning My Inner Wimp

By December 15, 2008 culture, faith No Comments

My idealistic, dreamy nature takes my brain to worlds where pain and injustice and loss do not exist. How thrilling to imagine relationships without conflict, without end, where love and joy abound evermore!

Heaven alone is the place for my dreams to rest, for pain and suffering are life’s companions. For this, my heart wrenches, and I longingly look to the blessings of heaven.

It is often here that my bad theology emerges, and I have the opportunity to run to God for rescue from it. (Theology use to be rather lofty, impersonal, and unimportant to me; I’ve learned, in recent years, that in actuality, theology is a precious foundation upon which my life can be built. Knowing right thoughts about God is necessary for spiritual health.)

My bad theology tells me that God is wrong to have made our bodies capable of such pain and suffering. Ease and comfort seem the way to joy . . . So why would God design the body with such a complex pain structure, consisting of both physical and mental components?

I’ve mentioned in previous posts my insidious aversion to pain. Rarely do I push my body physically. Often I become faint when others share their medical procedures. I must be some sort of sympathetic pain symptom conduit. Or perhaps it’s just my vivid imagination conjuring up what others describe. (I’m also a sympathetic vomiter, which is why I turn quickly from such situations—there’s no need to add to the fray, so I make myself scarce.)

In short, I’m a big wimp.

But I have felt the nudge of God in this matter—I must learn how to embrace the reality of pain in this life and mature in my thinking and reactions. I’ve taken two small steps in the process: first, I am attempting to push my body physically with regular exercise; and second, I read The Gift of Pain: Why We Hurt and What We Can Do About It, by Philip Yancey and Dr. Paul Brand.

The Gift of Pain chronicles Dr. Brand’s leprosy medical research and his discovery that leprosy victims become scarred and deformed because their pain systems have been disrupted. Without pain signals, the body does not protect itself, causing all manner of horrid ramifications. (For more on leprosy’s impact, visit American Leprosy Missions.)

Several of Dr. Brand’s insights caught my attention; all of them have awakened my appreciation for the design God made and His wisdom in it. Even though pain is rarely appreciated in the moment, it produces a safeguard for our lives that cannot be easily manufactured or reproduced. And pain is our constant mentor; without the consequences of our actions causing pain in all its forms (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual), why would we be motivated to grow and change?

My next few posts will dissect some of Dr. Brand’s insights that have my brain spinning. Stop by again soon to join the dizzying discussion.

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