When confronted with the facts, most of us will admit that pain, some pain, at least, serves a good and useful purpose. Apart from the warning system it provides, hidden dangers would shadow our everyday existence. Even more neglected, however, is the intimate connection that links pain and pleasure. The two sensations work together so closely they sometimes become almost indistinguishable.
Pain is an essential component of our most satisfying experiences. Does that sound odd? It may, for modern culture barrages us with opposite messages. We are told that pain is the antithesis of pleasure. If you feel a slight headache, dull it immediately with the newest extra strength pain reliever.
If you’re down, get your friends and go out. If you’re questioning God talk to someone in the church.
I think upon Thielicke’s criticism of Americans’ “inadequate view of suffering.” Little wonder. We moderns have cut ourselves off from the streams of human history, which has always accepted pain as integral part of life.
Until very recently, any balanced view of life had to account for pain as a normal, routine occurrence. Now it looms as the great intruder.
“Pain does not occur in the abstract—no sensation is more personal on more importunate”—Dr. Paul Brand
Pain is a priceless gift—of that I have no doubt. And yet only by learning to master pain can we keep it from mastering us.
Pain has no “outside” existence. Two people can look at the same tree; but no one has ever shared a stomachache. This is what makes the treatment of pain so difficult. None of us –doctor, parent, or friend—can’t truly enter into another person’s pain. It is the loneliness, most private sensation.
Pain, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual affects man as a whole down to the deepest layers of his moral being. It forces him to face again the fundamental questions of his fate, of his attitude toward God and fellow man, of his individual and collective responsibility and of the sense of his pilgrimage on earth.