The English Standard Version of the Bible translates Proverbs 20:30 as “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.” But my favorite translation of this verse is from the Good News Bible. It renders that passage as, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.” I don’t know about you, but I hate pain. I always want the Novocain when I go to the dentist. I’m very thankful for the various pain relief medications that are out there. I will usually take an extra step or two to avoid any pain. Life would be so much better if there were no pain. It seems the older I get, the more pain I have. I can hurt myself just rolling over in bed in the middle of the night. If I move too fast, I get dizzy and have to stop and get my bearings. Even that little painful lesson is teaching me to move slowly.

Yet, God uses pain to help us see that something is wrong. I read about Grade-school student Ashlyn Blocker. The article said she “is one of a very few people who suffers from congenital insensitivity to pain (CIPA) with anhidrosis (inability to sweat)—a rare genetic disorder. She can’t tell if her food is too hot; if she falls on the playground and skins her knee, she won’t know it until her teacher sees the blood; if she gets overheated, she won’t perspire; if she gets too cold, she won’t shiver.” The author of the article concludes that “The way God has created us, pain is a blessing; it is a ‘wake-up call’ to the fact that something is wrong with our bodies.” Pain makes us stop and take a deeper look at ourselves and often drives home a lesson we may not have learned without it.

Some of the pain I experience in life, I have to admit, I’ve brought on myself through one bad decision or another.  I shouldn’t have lifted all those boxes by myself! Another passage in Proverbs says, “All children are foolish, but firm correction will make them change” (Proverbs 22:15). Regardless of the root cause of our pain, it can still serve a good purpose. If there were no pain, I’d lose the most valuable warning system that God has created in me for my physical well-being.  With regard to emotional and spiritual sufferings in my life, if there were no pain, it would be as if God was saying “I’m through with you.” Pain is evidence that God has not abandoned us. Pain is often the loving act of a compassionate, loving God, designed to bring us back. C. S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures; he speaks to us in our work; he shouts at us in our pain.” One author surmised, “Every one of us knows that there have been times when we would not listen to God or pay any attention to what his Word was saying until finally he used a severe discipline to get our attention so that we would listen.” Whether the Good News Bible has an accurate translation of this verse or not, it is true. It does, very often, take a painful experience to make us change our ways.