In counseling I am always amazed at the lengths people go to in order to avoid pain in life, especially since I can say with confidence that no one has experienced a truly pain free life. Yet still we are so intent on eliminating pain. With all our effort we try to run a race no one has ever won. In fact, it appears that the more we focus on our pain, the more miserable we become. Yet we spend all kinds of money talking with counselors about it, trying different vices to cover it up, or watching the latest pop psychologist discuss how to evaluate our personal misery in even more detail.
What if our perspective on the difficulties of life is all wrong?
What amazes me even more are people who are experiencing great difficulty with purpose, and even at times, joy! Isn’t it amazing what we can endure when we have a clear objective in front of us? A mother in labor experiencing intense pain, yet filled with joyful anticipation. A marathon runner focused on the finish line, physically exhausted, as he pursues his goal with determination. Or what about cancer patients, who because of their children are willing to fight with every ounce of strength, against all odds, just to be with their loved ones a little longer? The truth is, we can survive a great deal of pain when our goal is made abundantly clear and we believe the fight is worth it. The renowned psychiatrist Viktor Frankl says it well, “If architects want to strengthen a decrepit arch, they increase the load which is laid upon it, for thereby the parts are joined more firmly together. So if therapists wish to foster their patients’ mental health, they should not be afraid to create a sound amount of tension through a reorientation toward meaning of one’s life.” When one’s obsession is on their personal hardship, this only fosters more misery. While none of us can eliminate pain, when we have lasting, meaningful purpose, we can thrive even in the midst of it!
So let me ask a question…does your life have purpose?
Titus 2:13 (KJV)
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”
God never promised a removal of our pain, but a right relationship with him brings the words “blessed hope” to life!
If you want to look deeper into this issue I have a more scholastic approach here. Why Pain?
I actually spoke on this. Click here and look for Titus Week 8 Titus 2:13-15.