I am now learning that God allows pain, in part, to remind each other of the treasures we already have.
A leg is taken from a man; now I thank God for my legs. A woman was not given a trust worthy father; now I rejoice for the good father I still have. My wife and I are not given a child; now others can feel deep gratitude for their own child. Trust is broken over and over again in a family; now I celebrate the trust I often take for granted. I am given an addiction with which I wrestle every day; now others may delight in this area of rest they are given every day. Obviously this is not the only purpose of pain, but it is a perspective I forget too often.
Borrowing from the late George Buttrick: a professor held up a large white piece of paper in front of his students. The paper had one small inkblot on it, but was otherwise completely blank. He asked them, “What do you see?” Thinking it was a psychological test, the students replied with many interpretations of what they saw in the inkblot. After listening to all their responses, he simply asked, “Did no one see the paper?”
I am guilty of this – seeing the inkblots of my life and losing all gratitude for the brilliant white that surrounds it.
None of this is to say that pain is insignificant. It actually means exactly the opposite. My hurt is given astounding significance because of the training it accomplishes in me and the perspective it gives to others. Your suffering has great worth because of what it teaches both you and me. This is the redemptive gift of pain.