The Purposes of Pain

“Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” Hebrews 2:17-18

We all experience pain, and even suffering at some time in our lives. While our natural reaction to pain is to avoid it, get rid of it, or numb it; we need to realize that God allows pain. In fact, our suffering is a sign of God’s love. Let me explain.

After Adam and Eve sinned, after the infection and sickness of sin came into this world, God said to them, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake…” (Genesis 3:17). He didn’t say “for your punishment” but “for your sake, for your welfare.” The worst thing that could have happened would have been for them to have lived in paradise with a sinful nature and be immune to pain, because pain is the signal that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

Pain Protects

Dr. Paul Brand, a great medical missionary, worked with lepers and saw the suffering that they went through. One of the problems with leprosy is that the leper can no longer feel pain in the leprous parts of his body, and Dr. Brand talked about what a tragedy that was. He said, “If I had the power to eliminate human pain, I would not exercise that right. Pain’s value is too great.”

There is a protecting purpose of pain. Dr. Brand said that when a healthy person has an injured leg, he develops a limp that causes him not to put weight down on it. A leper will sometimes wear away a wounded part of his body because he feels no pain. He might burn a cigarette down until it burns his skin and never feel it. He doesn’t have pain to protect him.

You see, pain is a sign of God’s love. Thank God for pain. It tells us something is wrong and protects us from harm.

Pain Unifies

There’s also a unifying purpose of pain. Pain unifies the body. Dr. Brand said, “I can tell the health of a human body by its reaction to pain. If the body doesn’t react to pain, I know that something there is dreadfully wrong.”

Have you ever hit your thumb with a hammer? The first thing you do is grab it. Then, you pop it in your mouth. Finally, you do a little dance. I don’t know what your knees have to do with your thumb, but you have to do that dance. When one member suffers, every member suffers with it.

What does that say about the church? It’s pain that unifies us as a church. The Bible says when one member suffers, every member suffers with it (1Corinthinas 12:26). We are drawn together by suffering. Dr. Brand said, “You can tell something of the health of a church by the way it responds to the hurting, the helpless, the homeless, the broken, the bruised, the battered, the bleeding, and the impoverished. The body is a healthy body when it responds to pain.

Pain Corrects

Finally, there is a correcting purpose of pain. It tells us that something is wrong. If we didn’t feel pain, we wouldn’t know we were sick, and we wouldn’t seek an answer.

We live in generation today that feels pain, but rather than trying to get the pain settled, we seek a sedative. That’s the reason why many are on drugs. That’s why some people look to alcohol or get involved in an adulterous affair. Others watch television and live in a make-believe world because television may be the biggest sedative of all. But as much as we try to avoid it, we need the pain to tell us there is an infection, a sickness. It has to be dealt with.

Are you hurting? Is there pain? Do you have a broken heart? This passage in Hebrews reminds us that Jesus also suffered and therefore understands our sorrows. He has been there and has felt our pain. He came to Earth and became a man that He might be a faithful High Priest, that He might understand and have compassion. Rather than trying to kill our pain with sedatives, we need to turn to our compassionate Savior to bear our pain and suffering.