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PICK YOUR PAIN

November 30, 2021

“You have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.” 

This is a saying in endurance sports. It seems that endurance sport is the rare place where suffering is exalted and even sought.  We praise those athletes that dig deep, feel the burn, and deny themselves to achieve their goal.

Sadly, the endurance sports’ lesson of suffering’s value fails to make it into everyday life.  Mostly, we want our everyday lives to be free from suffering. In fact, we not only want it free from suffering, but we also want it free from discomfort, frustrations, and general annoyance.

Not all pain is the same, but our reaction to pain, intense or minor, is the same.  Our inclination is to flee pain, avoid it, minimize it, remove it.  However, if everything that does not go our way is suffering in a degree, then it is pain on some scale.

Life is pain because life is a struggle with suffering. We struggle with all those disappointments that are not as we want; big and small; painful and annoying; consuming and distracting.

Perfection is the absence of suffering. 

Those who pursue perfection to escape suffering are the ones who suffer the most.  Humans are imperfect.  Society is imperfect.  Nature is imperfect.  If you demand perfection, you will suffer the more than anyone else.

There is only one who is perfect.

Therefore, life is a management of suffering in all its degrees while we await the perfection to come.

We don’t want to suffer the consequences of an immoral life. 
Therefore, we suffer the lesser pain of self-denial.

We don’t want to suffer want and need.
Therefore, we suffer the discomfort of self-discipline.

We don’t want to be crushed by the inevitabilities of life.
Therefore, we serve others and humble ourselves.

We don’t want to suffer eternal punishment for a sinful life.
Therefore, we lose our lives so that we might gain them.

Now, there is a paradox here for those who are in Christ. We are commanded to follow in obedience, to deny ourselves, to pick up our crosses and follow Christ. We are also told that it is God who is at work in us to will and to act in order to fulfill His purposes. This is the paradox that we all live. How does all that work? I am not entirely sure. However, I do know that within this paradox I have enough incentive and encouragement to endure. I have learned that when I embrace the denial of self, the power to preserve always comes through the Spirit, usually a while after I think I need Him, but in His time.

Suffering reveals our weaknesses.  It reveals what we value most.  Suffering is training.  It reveals perfection if we dare to look.  That is the knowledge that every “liver” of life needs to navigate through all the pain.

Suffering cannot be escaped, but we do have a choice in what we learn. 

Pick your pain or your pain will pick you; learn its lessons or pain will be absent of purpose.  So, dig deep, feel the burn, endure the race because perfection will have its day.

2 comments

  1. Thanks, J.D. Glad you’re posting more of your thoughts these days.


    • Thanks Bette. It is nice to be writing again.



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