me, thankful for pain?

I recently checked out Where is God When it Hurts? from the library. I asked a few people, "Do you know any good books on suffering?" It seemed like an ironic question, but a kind soul recommended Philip Yancey's book.

At this point, I must confess one of my neuroses which may not be a good idea. It's just that honestly, I fear pain + I have a vivid imagination. It is wise for me to say a little prayer before we watch Grey's Anatomy or ER. If I'm not careful to stay grounded in reality, I'm prone to say, "I think I have that disease!" Johnny has banned me from WebMD - I am not kidding. I hate visiting the dentist which makes me feel guilty because he is very nice. I hate the teeth-scraping and possible drilling. Every little twinge of pain in my body is liable to send cold chills up my spine. You name a pain and I hate it.

Well, I used to anyway. Last night I read chapter three of Yancey's book. He befriended one of the leading leprosy experts in the world: Dr. Paul Brand. Come to find out, leprosy is not a flesh-eating fungus, but a horrific disease which numbs your body's pain network. Lepers' fingers and toes rot away because they cannot feel pain. Discomfort that would alert me to visit a doctor in the beginning stages goes unnoticed to a leper, infection sets in, and their toes literally fall off.

Yancey also described how the pain network in a healthy body is a glorious design - our protector from many perils. Late last night, I bowed my head and repented of ever expressing anger to God for pain and discomfort. I thanked Him that I do not have leprosy. This morning as hot water made me snatch away my finger from the faucet, I thanked Him. When hot oil from turkey sausage splattered on my arm causing me to turn down the heat, I thanked Him. Yeast die-off is full of discomfort, but that's how I know the treatment is working. And, I know to take medicine if my heart burns, drink aloe vera juice if my throat hurts, or take a nap when I can't keep my eyes open. If I had never been disturbed by symptoms in the first place, I would never have gone to the Hotze clinic for help. I thanked God for that, too.

Whenever I first crawl into bed at night, I think and ponder. What I read that day, beautiful photographs, wise things Johnny said, my family, friends, memories, writing topics, and which tea I'll drink the next morning. I pray, Johnny often rubs my back, then I finally fall asleep. Last night, during think-time, my eyes bugged open with an epiphany. I recalled these Scriptures:

"Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, 'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!' So when He saw them, He said to them, 'Go, show yourselves to the priests.' And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, 'Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?' And He said to him, 'Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.'"
[Luke 17:11-19]

I realized that when Jesus healed those men, He gave them pain. He restored their ability to feel pain. The man who returned very possibly scraped his elbow as he fell near Jesus' dusty feet. That hurts, but he cried out thanks for pain. When my bodily yeast overgrowth is tamed and balanced, I pray to remember that Samaritan and follow his lead, making my voice loud.


lauracrow said...

such a lovely post, jenni. there are two books that i think you would like a lot. both are by rachel naomi remen. the first is called "my grandfathers blessings" and the other is called "kitchen table wisdom". they are both compilations of stories that dr. remen has written about her career as a doctor. most of the stories are about how people get through their pain and suffering by finding their spirit.

i keep them both by my bed and read them often, i think you'll really like them (if you haven't already read them!)xoxo

Todd Wright said...

I wish more people read Yancey...he's so good.

allison said...

Your observation about the leper's gratitude is a wise observation--and another point to ponder in the paradox of pain.

Kimberly said...

Incredible! I love the insight you were given on Jesus healing the lepers and giving them the ability to feel pain again. Great post!

Christine said...

Jenni, wow. This brought tears to my eyes. I understand - I can be the same way and actually thought yesterday that I need to be careful of the shows I watch because it puts things in my head. And this perspective really helps me to understand pain more and how God works in our lives through it. Love you and praying for you.

jenni said...

Thanks for the recommendations, Laura. I'll check 'em out...

Hi, Todd! I plan to read more Yancey. Which is your favorite?

Allison ~ pain is most definitely a paradox.

Thank you, Kimberly.

And thank you, Christine. :)

nicole said...

I love you, Jenni.

jenni said...

Aw, thank you, Nicole. The same to you!