“I have come to the conclusion that tolerating pain is not God’s best for us. If it were, He would not have given us the gift of pain – as Philip Yancey states in his book, Where Is God When It Hurts? – to help us realise that all is not well.”
Gladys Famoriyo looks at the reasons why we tolerate pain in our lives, and writes that there are things we can and should do to stop it.
Have you noticed that we have become adept at tolerating pain? The pain I refer to can be anything from your shoes pinching your toes, an aching tooth, or perhaps a life situation that is causing you angst, pain and hardship. Can I ask you, How do you respond?
From my observations, it seems that some of us simply grin and bear it, even though pain is a warning sign telling us everything is not OK. Instead, we adjust ourselves and keep walking. We might even throw in a “I bind that pain in Jesus’ Name”, but wouldn’t the most logical thing to do be to address the cause?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe that being adaptable is a necessary life skill, lest we fall at the first hurdle life presents us. But I question what drives this behaviour, because if something as simple as a pinching shoe causes enough pain to distract us from ‘life’, and it is within our power to change the situation, surely we would do something about it, right? Or so you would think.
Here are other situations some of us tolerate:
• A relationship that is draining the life out of us.
• A job that we should have left decades ago.
• A niggling pain you have chosen to overlook and not seek medical attention about.
• A piece of equipment that should have gone to ‘equipment heaven’ a long time ago, such as an old PC/laptop that takes forever to start up/shut down. Rather than letting it go, you keep patching it up, anointing it with oil whilst declaring, ‘Dead bones will live’.
• Attending a church where you are no longer growing and/or receiving. You complain about it, resent the leaders, yet you continue to go, and it’s not because God said so.
• The effects of a pressurised job or challenging life situation, without enlisting the support or care we need to get through it (eg. a well-needed break, therapeutic massage, prayer and encouragement from others, the opportunity to share our burdens with others, etc.).
So why do we do this? Is it that we don’t feel we deserve a pain-free life (some people would argue that we ought to suffer as Christians)? Is it because we feel we aren’t worth the investment to get rid of the pain? Especially as some don’t think twice when it comes to relieving the pain of others. Is it a behaviour we have emulated from past generations, where pain, suffering and hard toil were part and parcel of everyday life (some may argue it still is)? Could it be a form of procrastination keeping us bound, yet depleting the quality of the abundant life promised to us? Whatever the reason, it is worth considering lest we find the issue cascading out of control; we become more frustrated and even blame God for something He has empowered us to change.
I can’t help but ponder as to why we allow things to get almost desperate before we take action. Must we bleed, suffer or (almost) die before we do something? Must we keep muffling our sobs, even in the church pews, pretending everything is OK when it isn’t? I have come to the conclusion that tolerating pain is not God’s best for us. If it were, He would not have given us the gift of pain – as Philip Yancey states in his book, Where Is God When It Hurts? – to help us realise that all is not well. Along with pain, our tears, coupled with our ability to feel, think and express emotion, are all precious gifts that help us to recognise and deal with our discomfort. God has not got an issue with us striving for this. In fact, we see Jesus depict this all throughout His ministry on earth. We see Him relieving us of our burdens and pain – the ones we are unable to do for ourselves.
In closing, I encourage you to reflect on what pain you might be tolerating. If it’s within your power to change the situation, prayerfully take steps to deal with it. And if the pain is as a result of what seems to be a great mountain before you, I suggest you enlist God’s help – after all, that’s His specialty. And even if He does not take the pain away, one thing is for sure: He will give you the grace to endure.
Gladys Famoriyo is a speaker and author of ‘Healing A Discouraged Heart’. For more details of her ministry, visit www.gladysf.com or call 0870 750 1969