I will do most anything to avoid pain. Won’t you? But, I can’t run away from it. It runs too fast. I can’t hide from it. It’s everywhere. I can’t outsmart it. It’s unpredictable. The only real choice I have regarding the pain in my life is how I respond to it.

Psalm 102 was written by a man in great pain. He’s demanding answers from God in verse 2. In the following verses he explains the depth of his suffering. His days vanish like smoke. His bones are burning; his heart is stricken. His appetite is gone. He groans and wastes away. Moreover, his enemies deride him, and God’s wrath is upon him. He withers like grass. His strength is weakened and his days shortened. The ultimate result of all his suffering is that he turns to God. In his pain, He calls out to God.

C. S. Lewis write, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, and shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Dr. Paul Brand of Carville, Louisiana, one of the world’s foremost experts on leprosy, describes how “leprosy patients lose their fingers and toes, not because the disease can cause decay, but precisely because they lack pain sensations. Nothing warns them when water is too hot or a hammer handle is splintered. Accidental self-abuse destroys their bodies.”

The most profound lessons in life come through pain. Most of the significant changes in my life have come as the result of pain. Pain sends me to the dentist! Pain takes me to the doctor. Pain makes me give up destructive addictive behavior. Pain may force me to dissolve a destructive relationship. But most important, pain can bring me back to God.

Professor Bruce Waltke describes a Christian’s response to pain this way: We once rescued a wren from the claws of our cat. Thought its wing was broken, the frightened bird struggled to escape my loving hands. Contrast this with my daughter’s recent trip to the doctor. Her strep throat meant a shot was necessary. Frightened, she cried, “No, Daddy. No, Daddy, No, Daddy.” But all the while she gripped me tightly around the neck. Pain ought to make us more like a sick child than a hurt bird.

“My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows. I am withering away like grass. But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever. Your fame will endure to every generation.” (Psalm 102:11-12)