Is There A Good Type of Pain?
By Fin Sheridan
One of the hardest things to teach children (and, let’s be honest, a lot of adults too) is that what is good for them might not always be enjoyable. Ask any parent who has tried everything to get their child to eat a vegetable that they are convinced that they hate. Or forcing said toddler to take a bath, as they howl and struggle. Personally, I hate doing fitness but undoubtedly, it’s good for me. I just don’t enjoy the pain.
We have an in-built impulse to dodge pain, for obvious and very good reasons. Our physical bodies are wired to avoid it; grab a hot pan and you’ll instinctively let it go. Part of being a healthy human being means trying to avoid making decisions that will result in our pain, and the pain of others.
The other day, I came across this verse.. David writes in Psalm 119:71: It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. Hang on a second, David. “Good for me to be afflicted”? How many of us, as we go through the struggles and trials of life, have the totally opposite perspective to this? Yet the Bible again and again reframes suffering and pain as something that God uses.
It’s a powerful witness to those who don’t know Jesus, when we ‘suffer differently’.
In this instance, David reflects back on his past affliction, not with resentment or bitterness, but with a sense of acceptance. In fact, he thinks it’s actually a good thing. Why? Because though it, he “learnt God’s decrees”. What does that mean? It means that he experienced the promises and declarations of God in a way that he wouldn’t have if he hadn’t had to experience affliction. There was something extra and different of God that came through his suffering.
This perspective can take some time to get used to but it’s essential to maturity as a Christian. It’s a powerful witness to those who don’t know Jesus, when we ‘suffer differently’. It shows that our treasure is not “on earth” but “on that which is eternal”. Next time that tough times come, remember, this could actually turn out to be the good type of pain.