Did you know that you never suffer pain alone?
I don’t know when this idea came to me. I had known for years that when pain came, I could remember Jesus’ suffering on the cross, and the Love He had to purposely endure such pain. Perhaps the idea of a fellowship of the pain came to me as I went into labor with my first child, and realized that I was not the only woman in the world to be suffering in the throes of scary pain I couldn’t escape. I remember praying for other women in labor as the contractions increased.
As the children grew, so did the idea of redeeming the pain. In every pain we suffer, there are always other people around the world who are suffering the same kinds of pain. And whatever pain I suffer now connects me to this larger fellowship of the pain.
Do you have a headache? So do millions of others.
Tooth-ache? People feeling as you do are lined up at dental offices around the world. Or perhaps, as I did late one night, calling up their dentists for a powerful pain prescription at the all-night pharmacy.
Does your heart ache over unfulfilled dreams? Other people also feel a form of your hopelessness and despair.
Sometimes the pain is inescapable.
But that shouldn’t be the end.
Your pain can direct your prayers, if you let it. When you have entered the fellowship of the pain, you are enabled as never before to pray with power and compassion for those who suffer as you do.
And if you believe in Jesus, this is an even more powerful concept as you contemplate those sufferers around the world, alone and feeling forgotten, who may be on the receiving end of pain as a result of persecution for their faith in Jesus. These isolated, lonely sufferers need not be forgotten in prayer if you allow your pain to remind you to pray for them.
Years ago, suffering the kind of toothache that would have driven me to try to put myself out of my misery with a gun if we had had one in the house, I decided to redeem my pain (while my husband busily dressed and drove to the all-night pharmacy to purchase the pain reliever our dentist had agreeably prescribed for me late at night) by praying for believers around the world who suffered from facial and dental pain as the result of beatings. Although I had hoped that my pain levels would have been cut in half, this was not the case. Instead, the pain lessened a mere 5% or perhaps slightly more, just enough to allow me to relax and endure the hefty pain load that remained. It was still bad. But not so bad that I continued to pray for death for relief.
Whatever circumstances God has given you, these are the currency with which you buy your life and legacy. If pain is your currency, don’t despise it: trade it in for something heavenly! In this way you can redeem your pain, exchanging it for something beautiful of eternal value.
Now I would like to have you believe – thinking so kindly of me, and all – that I am very good at redeeming the pain in my own life, that I do this all the time whenever anything disagreeable or uncomfortable comes my way. But that wouldn’t be the truth. I have to tell you honestly that I sometimes remember to redeem the pain in my own life once or twice a month. If that much. However, when I do remember to do this, I am able to bear it better, knowing both that I am not alone in my pain, and that my prayers may be helping other sufferers. Maybe this will help you as well.
Praying that all your pain leads you to Jesus, who suffered all for you,
P.S. I would like to ask those of you who are so inclined to lift up a young man named Greg in your prayers. Saturday, at a wedding, I happened to sit next to Greg. Conversationally, I happened to ask him how his school year had been going for him, never for one moment imagining the sad tale of misery that was about to pour into my shocked ears. For several months, Greg has suffered unexplained headaches to such a degree that his academic advisors have greatly reduced his school work. But he still struggles. Wanting to be helpful, I mentioned the concept of redeeming the pain to him. But what I really want is just for him to be healed. His whole life lies ahead of him. It was full of hope and joyful expectations until this year. Please pray for wisdom for his parents and doctors. Thank you.
P.P.S. Next week, I hope to give you one of the facial recipes I was planning to write about today. Come back then if you can.