God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
– C.S. Lewis
It’s deep into the football season.
Some players have been sidelined with season-ending injuries, while others limp through the games. In a 2016 ESPN article entitled “How NFL Players Play through the Pain,” staff writer and veteran football player Matt Bowen asserted that nobody on the field after October is truly healthy. The players maximize their ability to play through careful management of their injuries during the week and an injection of Toradol, jokingly referred to as “Vitamin T,” on game day. They know that the pain will come back with a vengeance afterward. The next day may be more brutal, in fact, than when the injury first happened.
For the players, it’s about managing the pain and making it through the important days. For them, the goal is to earn a win for their team and a healthy paycheck for themselves.
For those of us who are not athletes, it may be hard to understand those willing to put their bodies through all that just for a game. It feels wrong to purposely play through a sensation that keeps warning you to stop.
Physical pain, after all, is the body’s messenger, informing us that something is wrong. In that respect, it’s also our friend, because if we didn’t have pain, we would be constantly injuring ourselves. Pain tells us to stop what we’re doing and make an assessment. Sometimes it’s the wake-up call that inspires us to totally change our lifestyles.
Emotional pain may have different causes, but it, too, is God’s shout to us. It’s jarring and perhaps harder to bear than physical pain. It can’t be managed with something as simple as “Vitamin T.”
This kind of pain makes us ask the questions God wants to answer.
It takes us down and makes us look up. Suffering is the taskmaster that drives us to the Deliverer. In the same way physical pain sends us the urgent message to look for the source of injury or illness, emotional pain sends us an unmistakable message that it’s time to search out our Comforter and Healer.
Pain is a good thing when it awakens us to a new understanding of who we are and what we need to do to find healing. Life is more precious than any game. The stakes are higher, the victory sweeter.
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
– 1 Peter 5:10