The Gift No One Wants



If it’s true that God’s voice is loudest in our pain, then I want earplugs. During my years of physical pain I’ve heard Him loud and clear. Limitations resulting from my injuries and surgeries have served to remind me of my impatience and how easily I can revert to complaint and misery. “Enough already God, I get it! I’m not as ‘complete’ as I thought.”


It’s been said that pain is a gift that no one wants. We’ll do anything to get rid of it. Our culture has conditioned us to avoid it as if its presence in our lives is undeserved, punitive, and the exception rather than the rule. Time, money and ceaseless energy are expended in countless efforts to forestall and numb it.  We’ve been duped by advertisements and happy, shiny people on magazine covers and TV into thinking that pain shouldn’t belong to us. But life with an absence of pain is an unrealistic expectation. An ‘avoid pain at all costs’ approach to life only guarantees disillusionment, disappointment and despair.


...that helplessness – and the inevitability of loss of control – opens the door to other blessings.

We’ve also been deceived into believing that pain and misery are synonymous; in reality they’re not. In his book, You’ve Got to Keep Dancing, Tim Hansel writes, “Pain in life is inevitable but misery is optional.”  The deception that pain equals misery jades our attitude and prevents us from realizing the potential benefits pain brings to our lives. Is it really pain that we’re trying to avoid, or the misery we fear pain will yield? What if we recognized and accepted the possible benefits of pain, while resisting the temptation to be miserable? It’s misery we really want to avoid…


You might be thinking “but I don’t want pain” - neither do I! But what if we could endure or even embrace pain without the necessity of misery? What if we drew closer to God as a result of it and surrendered to the greater good of His purposes? Doing so requires that you answer a difficult question. Is your primary desire in life happiness or holiness? Theologian A.W. Tozer considered this question and concluded “God does not call us to happiness but holiness.” Tozer believed that God uses pain to mold Christ-like character in our lives.  Jesus’ own life serves as an illustration. The author of Hebrews wrote, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9).  And ‘Gethsemane experiences’ in our lives offer us the opportunity to relinquish our will to the perfect will and plan of our Heavenly Father.


Over the years I’ve acquired a certain joy in my helplessness. There’s freedom in realizing that ‘control’ is an illusion.  My physical pain has released me from the emotional stress and pain of ‘beating my head against the wall’ in an attempt to determine the outcome of circumstances that are beyond my control.


...When I felt weak and the most vulnerable, when I couldn’t reciprocate, I was loved. 

Sometimes love feels like a gift we don’t want.  Down the road though, looking back on it – who doesn’t want to receive love?  Maybe, just maybe, down the road we can look back on the experience of unwanted pain and feel the same way…


Finally, that helplessness – and the inevitability of loss of control – opens the door to other blessings.  Early in my recovery from one of my operations I was relaxing in my recliner when my irrepressible dog, Buddy, jumped up on my chest and showered my face with ‘kisses’. I demanded that he stop but he refused. I was too weak to push him off so I was stuck - the unwilling recipient of his salivary affections. I was helpless except for my thoughts.  At times I’ve secretly wished I could push away the people in my life who wanted to express their concern for me by providing me with needed assistance. As in the situation with Buddy, there was nothing I could do and their love prevailed.  I’m learning to surrender to the unconditional love of others, even God’s. When I felt weak and the most vulnerable, when I couldn’t reciprocate, I was loved. 


Sometimes love feels like a gift we don’t want.  Down the road though, looking back on it – who doesn’t want to receive love?  Maybe, just maybe, down the road we can look back on the experience of unwanted pain and feel the same way…


Painfully joyful,

Pastor Todd


Todd Michero, D.Min. serves as the lead pastor of Community Covenant Church in Eagle River, Alaska, with a mission to bring Christ's Hope, Healing, and Wholeness to our community and to our world. He also directs the Colson Fellows Alaska program, which exists to assist committed Christians develop strategic cultural means of demonstrating what life looks like under the rule and reign of God in their respective spheres of influence, in obedience to Christ, and for the good of the world.

Content on beyondpain.us is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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