Monday, February 2, 2009

Is Pain Good?

I was snowboarding a few weeks ago. The first day, I did not do anything dangerous and didn't fall (probably the first time in my snowboarding life). That night, I was unsatisfied. Why? Partly because I didn't hurt. Partly because of what my not hurting symbolized: I had not tried hard. The next day, I tried hard. So hard I broke a rib. And it felt good. Not that the broken rib felt good (it still hurts to breathe deeply). But I felt better for having experienced the pain. Or perhaps it was what the pain said about my character that was the satisfying part.

From another perspective, Mother Theresa said, "...without suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption." Her perspective was that pain was required for a thing to be significant. For her, there was no Godly offering without pain.

There is something here, something I can't quite put my finger on. In what sense is pain good? It was good in that it pointed to a good character trait in me. In Mother Theresa's sense, it was good because it pointed to Christ. Is there a connection between these two goods?

All the same, we are supposed to do all in our power to relieve pain, but when we experience it, it's at least partly good. Maybe this is the problem of Evil on a nano scale; paradoxical and mysterious, but with a clear imperative.

1 comment:

  1. In grief we feel in depths more deep,

    Than dreamers wandering in wakeful sleep.

    But not all our tears do fall in vain,

    For wisdom’s rod is woe and pain.