Thank God for the gift of pain!

* We are blessed with many different kinds of pain in ‘this present evil age’

[] Physical pain: In an interview on TV a 27-year-old man admitted that he had never experienced pain. But was this a blessing? He showed the camera a hollow behind his left shoulder where a lump of flesh had been destroyed through leaning too long against a very hot radiator. At the time of the broadcast only about a hundred cases of GIP (genetic insensitivity to pain) were known worldwide – his two sisters among them. And one of them had died aged three when she bit off her tongue and contracted septicaemia. So, pain is evidently a mercy in a fallen world. Interestingly, this man does operate all five senses, including touch. He could feel a soft brush stroking the back of his hand even with his eyes shut, but could not sense a sharp point boring into it. The chemistry that would normally convey signals of pain to his brain is blocked off. So he has donated his DNA for medical research into the condition.

[] Hunger can be painful. Our terrier, Georgie, is a fine example of this. Having a docile temperament she is an ideal pet for a retired couple, but daily she gets agitated by mid-afternoon, demanding to be fed. After all, anorexia (the absence of hunger) is a curse.

[] The social emotion of empathy enables us to ‘weep with those who weep’ and to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ as the Good Book bids us followers of Jesus to do. Psychopaths can torture and kill fellow humans without a qualm.

[] Nor do psychopaths experience the pangs of conscience. Ian Brady, ‘the moors murderer’ has boasted in captivity of four more victims whose remains the police have never unearthed in the Pennine hills of northern England.

* The Son of God and the Spirit of God involve truly in our current pain

According to Isaiah 53:3-4 (English Revised Version) Jesus did not suffer from GIP; he was ‘a man of pains, knowing sickness’ first hand, which Matthew 8:16-17 confirms concerning his empathetic ministry of healing. And on the cross ‘he has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains.’ Isaiah also tells us that in his resurrection ‘out of the travail of his soul he shall see light and be fully satisfied’ (Isaiah 53: 11  Hebrew).  Indeed, he ‘makes intercession for the transgressors’ (Isaiah 53: 12) – and, we are elsewhere told that in this present ministry he still empathises with our weaknesses (see Hebrews 4:14-16).

In the age to come, his people will not experience ‘pain any more’ and ‘they shall hunger no more’ (Revelation 21:4; 7:6). Presumably pleasant signals will prevent us biting off our tongues and burning our flesh! Meanwhile, the Spirit helps us in our own intercessions. He begets within us God’s desires in prayer and then supplies the gas and air when we at times travail in prayer ‘with groanings too deep for words’ (Romans 8:26) as we yearn for that complete realisation of the new creation.

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