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How Much Pain Can We Take?

When I ponder how much God loves us and consider how much some of His most dearly loved ones have suffered here on earth, it makes me ask; How much pain can we take? What Purpose does suffering have?

The other day I sat in the dentist chair with a personal decision to make. Iwas there to have 4 cavities filled. Well, they weren’t technically cavities.At this point, they had only shown up on the new laser they use. Filling themat this early stage would prevent them from getting larger. Because they weren’tvery deep, the Dentist told me I wouldn’t have to be numbed, but it wasup to me. He told me if it got too painful all I needed to do was raise my hand.

In the interest of saving time I decided to go for it without anesthesia. Atfirst, it was fine, but the deeper he got the more my nerves revolted againstthe drill. I knew at any moment I could stop this pain. All I had to do was raisemy hand and it would go away. There were moments that I told myself: If itgets any worse I won’t keep going. But I persevered. I did it forthe joy of not being numb and quickly leaving the dentist office with no aftereffectsof the visit. I persevered. Although I was somewhat doubtful as I endured thepain, after it was over, I was glad that I made the decision and would do itagain.

We are not asked to determine our pain, but we are encouraged to accept our painjust like Jesus did His. Hebrews 12:2 tells us, Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him enduredthe cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne ofGod. None of us will have a pain free existence on this earth. We can nevercomprehend what good God is accomplishing through the suffering that exists onthis planet at this very moment. We can know that we love and serve a God wholoves us, and would have done it another way if that were possible. Julian ofNorwich lived in a time when the world was ravaged by war and disease. She herselfsuffered greatly. Through her experiences with God she came to see painful experiencesthis way. She wrote, It is God’s will that we accept his commands andhis consolations as generously and as fully as we are able; and he always wantsus to accept our tarrying and our suffering as lightly as we are able, and tocount them as nothing. (Monica Furlong, The Wisdom of Julian of NorwichEerdmann: Grand Rapids, 1996, p. 3)

I find it comforting to think that even though my friends are facing painfulrealities that make me see my own life as pain free. Even though most of thepeople on this planet are poor and hungry or even worse; God knows that thislittle while of suffering will feel like nothing when it is over. Let’sstay the course through our pain like Jesus did, by thinking of the joy thatwill come from it in heaven.



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