I finally went to the doctor. I’d been experiencing pain in my shoulder for a couple of years and it kept getting worse. I don’t like to go to doctors. I believe most pain goes away if you give it enough time. I’ve learned - sometimes it doesn’t. Pain, doctors tell me, is the way our body signals that something is wrong and needs attention. If we couldn’t feel pain, we’d leave our hand on the hot stove.
Emotional pain is like that. Sometimes we ignore our pain hoping it will eventually go away; but buried pain never dies. One woman told me she was depressed, bitter and angry for years. Her husband had abused her then left her for another woman. She said one day it dawned on her that God had not abandoned her; she had abandoned God. She was going it alone even though her Heavenly Father was there, willing to help. A realization came to her one night when she looked up at the stars.
“Where are you, God?” she asked defiantly.
As she gazed into the night sky, she suddenly and powerfully felt the love of God. She realized the stars in the heavens were always there, even during the day; but their light and beauty were revealed only in darkness. In a similar way, she understood God was always there but only in the black times in her life did the absolute perfection of divine devotion reveal God's most brilliant and ennobling love.
Childbirth can be described as an ocean of pain that ebbs and flows like waves. At the crest of each wave, the labor pain is at the peak - then it gradually subsides. There is a small break between waves, where the laboring mother is allowed to regroup and then brace herself for the next pain. The closer she gets to actually giving birth, the closer the waves of pain come together. When the mother is actually delivering a new child, the pains don’t have any break between them. That’s when the mother wonders if she can hold on any longer. But she does - and because she does, new life is born.
We all need to be reborn, given new life through pain, whether emotional or physical or both. When we develop a new heart and rebirth of purpose, it follows the difficult times, the peak of pain when there is no letup, when we think we can’t go on. But we do. So we are reborn many times in life, reborn to joy - all following great pain.
Each life has meaning and purpose under any circumstance. We are asked to find that purpose and meaning through pain. God invites us to choose betterment over bitterness, growth over self-pity, and inner peace and joy over jaded attitudes. Hell is self-absorption. Heaven is other-absorption. So we choose.
The doctor I went to ordered physical therapy and medication. I learned to stretch and exercise my tendons and muscles in new and healing ways. The calcium deposit in my shoulder won’t go away but I can better deal with it by facing the truth, educating myself and maintaining new healthy routines. In a similar way, many problems in life don’t go away. We will keep becoming more than we were if we face the truth, educate ourselves and maintain new healthy routines. I heard someone say once that life is like licking honey off a thorn. Without pain we would not experience the fullness of joy. Without joy we would not discover the meaning and purpose in pain.