I'm not a masochist. I don't enjoy pain. In fact, I don't like pain at all. And in one sense, I could see how the title of this post might seem a bit ridiculous. Isn't pain a product of the fall? Isn't it part of the curse? To both of these questions I must give an unequivocal answer of, "Yes." Pain is part of the curse. But even in this part of the curse we can be thankful for God's mercy of pain.
In a world where death, decay, sickness, and sin do not exist, pain would have no merit at all. It would be an unnecessary evil. But in the fallen world in which we live, a world riddled with death, decay, sickness, and sin, pain can be a blessing. It can be a merciful blessing from the hand of the Creator.
While some would rather argue over the so-called 'problem' of pain, I would like to point out first of all, that pain is not a problem. I have no problem whatsoever reconciling the existence of pain with the creative acts of God in a created world that has rebelled against Him. Pain is just. In fact, it is merciful because it is not all that we really deserve. We all deserve much worse. And yet God in his forbearance has granted that we not immediately go into the bottomless chasm of pain, the place that does await each and every human who refuses to bow the knee to Christ as Sovereign Lord, He has instead granted us this gentle reminder of earthly, temporal pain, that teaches us to bow our knee to Christ now.
He has given pain to point to Himself as our Savior.
Pain is also a mercy because it points to potential decay here and now. When we get the flu and our bodies ache with pain we know that it is time to see the doctor. When we place our hand on a hot stove, pain is there to tell us to remove our hand from the burning element. Pain protects us from an early death by presenting itself in varying degrees, telling us to turn the saw off, pull our finger from the light socket, or sit down after breaking a leg.
Finally, pain is a mercy because it points Christians back to Christ. It points us to the One who endured pain as no other being has ever endured. Christ suffered not only at the hands of rebellious men, but also at the hand of an angry God. He endured wrath that Christians will never know, and the reason He endured that pain was so that all who trust in Him would never have to experience that pain.
This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for pain. Not because of an overly romantic notion of pain and strength, but because God has allowed it for our good and His glory.