Man sitting and contemplating with furrowed brow

Responding to Our Natural Alert Systems: Pain

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We’ve covered a lot of ground in the last few days: we dove into the difference between healthy and unhealthy fear and the important role fear can play in our lives, by design. Then we discussed the fact that a healthy dose of guilt can actually play a vital role in our lives. We followed this up by talking about anger and then sadness, both of which are emotional red flags that we can benefit from listening to.

Today, we’re going to close out this theme of our natural alert systems by talking about pain. This is not a fun subject to discuss and I’m cringing a little bit just thinking about diving into this one, but I think it’s worth a few moments of discomfort. So, please lean in with me and let’s see what God does!

As I’ve discussed before, I live in constant pain. There are good days and bad days but the pain is always apparent. It’s like a dull noise that is constantly in the back of my mind no matter where I go or what I do. Some days the noise is all I can hear, other days, I can shove it aside and focus on other things. But, for me, physical pain is always there.

For years I saw pain as the enemy. It was the thing that was making my life difficult and I just wanted it to stop. I didn’t care about the cause of the pain, I just wanted to manage my pain and manage it I did. I ate unhealthy food to bring me joy, downed sugar like there was no tomorrow as a means of distraction, and took an unhealthy amount of medication for even a moment of relief.

I saw my pain as the problem instead of a God-given warning sign.

We do the same thing with emotional, spiritual, and relational pain that I did with my physical pain: we want to mask the symptoms instead of getting to the root problem the pain is pointing out.

In what areas are you experiencing pain?
And how are you responding to this natural alert system?

We seek to distract from relational pain through binge-watching, cover up spiritual pain through legalism, and mask emotional pain through perfectionism. Unresolved relational pain can lead to an isolation habit. Unhealed spiritual pain can lead to a critical spirit. Unaddressed emotional pain can lead to emotional detachment and apathy.

What I’ve been learning is that pain isn’t a bad thing. It sure doesn’t feel good, but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad.

Pain is an alert signal, pointing us to a problem in a specific area.

What if healing was available to you, but you just can’t access it because you’re too busy covering up the pain?
What if, once you acknowledge the pain and bring it to God, he was able to heal you? Would you be willing to risk it?

Examining what pain is telling us is not fun or easy. I do not enjoy the process. But I’m learning that healing comes from the excavation of these places of deep pain. Those parts of us that we try to cover up and hide are the very places of pain that God wants to restore.

If you are like me and have been covering up your pain, seeing it as the enemy, I would encourage you to invite God into that pain and let him heal you. It won’t be easy, it’ll probably be a lot more painful for a little while, but it’s the only way that healing can really happen.

Let’s respond appropriately to our natural warning systems today and see how our lives begin to change.

To go Deeper: Read The Problem of Pain, Heart Made Whole


Disclosure: some links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

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2 comments

  1. I’m sorry about your pain, Sarah, but it sounds like instead of letting it cripple you, you have used it as an opportunity to experience a deeper relationship with God and encourage others to do the same. Well done, you, making sure that what the devil intended for harm, God can use for good!

    Liked by 1 person

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