Nobody likes pain. Pain hurts and it is almost always something humans try to avoid. Pain has differing levels of intensity and is a telling factor in diagnosing what might be wrong. Pain can be acute or chronic and can lead to a myriad of physical reactions. Pain is our signal – an unconscious reflex – that something is very wrong with our body. Pain is a physical experience, but we also suffer pain emotionally. Often the emotional pain is harder to deal with in life. You can’t put a Band-Aid over a broken heart and expect it to heal in 6-8 weeks. Emotional pain, or soul pain, has its own timeline and healing process.  

Pain is incredibly isolating. Nobody else can feel, share, or climb into your pain. Pain – both the physical and emotional types – makes you feel totally alone, even if people are surrounding you. I experienced the worst physical pain of my life when I was giving birth to my twins. My husband was supporting me on one side, my mother on the other. There were doctors and nurses all around me and I was safe in a hospital environment. Yet, hours of laboring and pushing without pain relief left me lost in my head. With two full-term babies inside, and Baby A (my son) presenting in the wrong direction, the delivery was difficult. As any birthing mother knows, the contractions climb on top of each other. With two babies inside, I couldn’t get a full breath to adequately push for the duration of each contraction. At this point unable to speak from the pain, I was screaming inside “you are going to die with your husband on one side and your mom on the other.” And as each contraction subsided, I would tell myself “you will not die, everyone is here to help, think positively.” This war of internal voices lasted for many difficult hours until my twins were birthed. I’ve never been as lost in my own physical pain as I was on November 20, 2001.

Pain is also distorting, it creates a me-centric point of view. That’s not a critical statement, it’s just a fact. Pain turns us inward to deal with what’s broken whether that is a leg or a heart. Sometimes pain shuts us down entirely leading to sleep, depression, or apathy. When in pain, it’s difficult to understand why your world has stopped rotating and how everyone keeps moving forward unaffected by the trauma that has reduced you to nothingness. While I was laboring in the worst pain of my life, family and friends were celebrating the arrival of the new babies in the waiting room. We know rationally that everyone is on different journeys and yet emotionally we want, no we need, everyone else to climb into and experience our pain so we are not alone.

For all its discomfort though, physical and mental pain both have a purpose. Pain helps to prepare us and mature us; pain helps us take on our own identity and discover our purpose; pain helps us to heal. Pain can lead to new life, as described in my birthing example. We often connect pain with defeat, rejection or loss, instead of viewing it through the lens of healing, strengthening, or improving. 

Jesus understood these truths about pain. He experienced emotional and mental anguish before his trial and unfathomable physical pain during his crucifixion. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he knew what was ahead for him and he didn’t want to be alone either. His disciples were close, only a stone’s throw away, yet they were unable to bring him comfort. In fact, they slept out of their unexplainable sorrow. Luke records that Christ’s anguish was so great that he actually sweated drops of blood. Luke also tells us that angel came from heaven to comfort him:   

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. ~ Luke 22:39-45 (NIV)

Pastor Paul Purvis says, “God’s presence does not equal pain’s absence. However, because of God’s presence, pain’s potency is limited. Difficult times may certainly lead to dark days, but dark days need not mean defeat.”[1]

HOPE! Hold on, pain ends.

Even though Christ had to endure the pain alone, he willingly did so to accomplish a greater purpose to bring hope to mankind. Jesus knew that his pain would bring new life! We may feel utterly alone and lost in our pain, but it should comfort us that Jesus has been there too. He’s walked in our shoes and can identify with our suffering. And yet, through his suffering, we can find hope that pain will end. No matter how it may feel today, you are not alone! Sometimes there are even angels that are sent to strengthen us in the process. Christ has been there too and He will guide you through to the newness of life. 

This Easter may you find HOPE. For all those who are hurting, HOLD ON. Allow pain to have its good work in your life and know that PAIN ENDS. 

[1]   Paul Purvis, May 29, A call to the Lord for Salvation, God’s Wisdom for Today, my daily Scripture Devotional. 2013. Thomas Nelson