I don’t know about you, but I’ve never liked pain. One Saturday, as I lay on my back thrusting weights into the air, those 30 pounds got away from me. I can still recall the event in vivid Technicolor—sometimes in slow motion, and often in the middle of the night. Helplessly I watched as the barbells came crashing toward my nose. My eyes crossed. My nose cracked. And the tears came. It was my third broken nose, and to this day, when I wiggle it with one hand, it sounds like a man crunching peanuts. No. I do not enjoy pain.
But Reg Mellor can’t get enough of it. Reg is the reigning world champion of ‘ferret legging.’ Ferret legging is a contest that involves the tying of the competitor’s trousers at the ankles and the insertion into those trousers of a pair of vicious, foot-long carnivores called ferrets. Once the ferrets are in your pants, the goal is to stand still as long as you can while these little critters try to chew their way out of your trousers. Reg Mellor managed to keep the weasels contained in his trousers for five hours and 26 minutes.
Unlike Reg, most of us don’t go looking for pain. In fact, we have been born with a God-given pain-resistance mechanism, causing us to say things like, “Hey, Mama! Peel me off the stove!” But one day we wake up to discover that Mama is no longer in the kitchen. And to make matters worse, we didn’t have to go looking for pain. It found us.
“What’s the point of this?” We ask. “Would a good God really allow such suffering?” C.S. Lewis wrestled with these questions in A Grief Observed: “What do people mean when they say, ‘I am not afraid of God because I know He is good?’ Have they never been to a dentist?”
My dentist is a nice guy with a great plan for my teeth. But the discomfort that man has caused me, can only be rivalled by the money he has cost me. Pain…hurts. But pain brings life as a child is born. And pain becomes healing as the abuse victim goes on to comfort other victims of abuse.
Is it then surprising that the greatest experience of pain, was God’s greatest gift to us. As those nails pinned the ruined body of Jesus to the cross, the pain of all the ages came crashing down on him. “By his wounds we are healed” says the Prophet Isaiah. This might not explain your suffering, but it assures us that a time will come when pain will give way to glory. The one who suffered for you, suffers with you. That is, until you put ferrets in your pants. That pain is yours, and yours alone.
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