(September 18, 2014)
It is human nature to avoid pain – we do it in so many aspects of our lives. But ultimately, pain is nothing if not a blessing to us. We are commanded to bring to the Lord an offering of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and pain greater than we can bear on our own breaks our heart and humbles our spirit.
Manassah was proud, and lived unrighteously. Then his past caught up with him, and he was taken prisoner and suffered greatly for it. All that he once enjoyed was lost to him. In his time of great suffering, he called out to the Lord in prayer and in time his prayers were answered. He was returned to his home, and once there Manassah never departed from the way of the Lord. “[T]hen Manassah knew that the Lord he was God.”
From a mortal perspective, we struggle to understand pain. But from a Heavenly perspective, I imagine it is quite easy to understand. Manassah was not living the way that he should live. Because the Lord loved him, the Lord blessed Manassah with sufficient pain to bring Manassah back to Him. When he humbled himself enough, the Lord welcomed him back. In an eternal perspective, then, our pain is a great and glorious blessing when it serves to develop those attributes that we need to develop or turn us to the Lord.
In my times of great pain (and they seem frequent now), I used to ask the question why. Why am I in pain? Who should I blame for my pain? Is it my fault or someone else’s fault? What do I need to do to stop this pain? Over time, and much experience (more experience than I would have chosen for myself), I have learned that there really is only one question to ask: what do I need to be doing so that this pain brings me closer to God, rather than moving me away from Him? If my pain is bringing me towards God, and I am improving in the characteristics that I need to develop to enter where He is, then my pain is a blessing. If, on the other hand, I am not getting closer to God then I cannot blame my pain (or whatever caused this pain). The pain is the constant, it is my response to it that is the variable that I can change to get the result that I want.