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For all the years I have suffered with my cancer my pain has been surprisingly minimal. But for the past week I have had some severe pain. I just left my doctor's office. To his surprise and my delight, it is evidently not caused by my cancer. But it still hurts.

In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis calls pain, God's megaphone.

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, He speaks to us in our conscience, and He shouts to us in our pain."

I doubt if it surprises you that police and fire engine sirens or the smoke alarm in your bedroom don't play Beethoven melodies or the latest jingle from a TV commercial. Their purpose is not entertainment but alarm.

Although it may go against most modern American thinking, it is not necessarily the will of God that our lives be filled with pleasure, comfort and entertainment.

Above all else God wants us to hear His voice and respond to His grace. It is through pain and suffering that we are shocked into the realization that there is something wrong in our lives and in the world. Through pain God quickly gets our attention.

Pain certainly calls us to pray. But prayer does not often relieve the pain immediately. And we need to learn to pray while we are hurting. Over the years of minor to moderate pain prayer has been a comfort and joy. This week, my pain increased enough that the pain pills the doctor give me do not take away all the pain. Sometimes they don't seem to do anything at all.

Among other things, I have to ask God to help me focus on what I am praying. I have to ask God to help me focus on other people and greater needs. It is still true that nothing lifts my heart like worship and praise. But I need God's Spirit to keep my attention on His glory.

Of course, we always need God to help us pray. We even need the Spirit of God to teach us what to pray. We need His hand on every facet of prayer. I have become painfully more aware of that.

Lord, I need You not only to teach me, but to help me pray.

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Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on October 18, 2016 at 9:56pm

David, what great thoughts, as always.  Your insight reminds me of what Paul said about wanting to share in Christ's sufferings and about what James said about rejoicing in the midst of trials.  God certainly does work in and through the pain (of all kinds) in our lives.  I've heard this statement attributed to a few different folks: "It is doubtful if God can use anyone greatly until he has hurt him deeply." 

I see and hear so many asking - and trying to answer - the question of "why" when encountering deep pain.  I think it's interesting that we have no record that Job ever knew the reason for the pain he endured.  We get to see it because the narrator tells us about the encounters between Satan and God - but Job is not privy to those encounters.  He experienced God deeply - more deeply than he ever could have in his prosperity.  When he did cry out to God, God did not explain himself but instead challenged Job with his (God's) greatness.  I've often thought that it was a sign of great - if quiet - faith when a person is able to accept from God's hand whatever he allows, without needing to know why.  To me, it's a little like when Jesus said, "Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe".

I am praying for you, my brother.

Comment by Malva Birch on October 13, 2016 at 8:50am

Dear Lord, thank You that You are always there. You know the purpose of the pain You allowed in David's life. You, Who were tortured to death on a cross, know more about pain than we can fathom. And our Father, Who had to see what was done to His holy Son, You know pain that we won't ever have to go through. It silences us. We know that it hurts You to see us in pain, but You have Your reasons for allowing it. Let Your purposes be fulfilled. Please help David in his pain, especially when man-made stuff won't help. Bring relief, please. You strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thank You that You remember that we are dust. Thank You for Your grace, in Jesus Name, amen.

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