I DO not pray that you may be delivered from your pains; but I pray GOD earnestly that He would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as He pleases . . . I wish you could convince yourself that GOD is often (in some sense) nearer to us and more effectually present with us, in sickness than in health. (-Br. Lawrence)
Upon reading this letter, I could not help but be reminded of the famous quote by C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia and many other great books. In his book, The Problem of Pain, he makes the following statement:
"But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
I wonder if this is what Br. Lawrence was getting at. I have definitely found it to be true that God has used illness and pain to get my attention. Too often, in our busyness, we miss hearing God's voice, miss seeing God's handiwork on display, miss God's gentle nudging in our lives. Illness often gives us the chance to slow down long enough to become aware of what what saying all along. Maybe God uses pain and illness to get our attention, to help us reorder our priorities, to shake us out of the delusion that we are in control and can handle things on our own. Yes, maybe pain is God's megaphone.
Maybe the greatest need many of us have when it comes to illness and pain is not in the healing we so often pray for. Maybe the biggest need is for God to reorient our relationship to the pain/illness/suffering. Pain is not the enemy. Pain can be the grace of God interrupting our overloaded schedule. Pain can be the unannounced guest, who brings with it the hidden treasure. Pain can be the jolt that shakes us from our apathy, that rouses us from our sleep-walking, that breathes new life into our decaying flesh and reminds us that we are, in fact, still alive and breathing. Pain may not be the enemy we try so hard to avoid, but the messenger of God we bend over backwards to welcome.
What is your experience with pain/illness? How has God used pain/illness in your life? Has it drawn you closer to God or pushed you away?
Ecclesia Writer's Consortium
We are blessed at Ecclesia to have a number of gifted writers and teachers. Here, you'll find devotions, meditations, and musings from a sample of those writers.