In more common use decades ago, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning” was what many patients were told by their doctor, when complaining of a minor malady by telephone. Minor ailments disappeared by the next day. More serious ailments were tended to by the doctor the next day. In general, it’s a way of asking or telling someone to refrain from bothering you with trivialities.
This is not the prescription for anything more serious, that is for sure, but it seemed to be a fitting title for this evening’s topic. Watching an episode of a show I’ve been interested in recently illuminated something I think few people give much thought about, even within the body of Christ…PAIN. Physical pain may jump into your thoughts, but I was thinking more so of emotional and even soul pain. I believe more so these days that emotional actions and reactions are connected with our soul and the circumstances we find ourselves in. Many believe the soul is the place of our emotional self, meaning it’s where our emotions lie. Hearing preachers do funerals, it is usually stated that the body is the shell, but who that person was, their soul, is now gone. Their happiness, joy, sadness, anger and so on are gone. The soul then, is the place where our emotions come from. When our emotions are out of whack, it affects our spirit, which affects our worship, our service, our study and even our prayer life. Therefore, there is a vital importance in the care of our soul/emotional self.
Sometimes hearing, “just pray about,” is really no more helpful than being told, “take two aspirins and call me in the morning.” When we are in emotional pain, sometimes prayer is the farthest thing from our mind. Opening the bible doesn’t even register. Going to church seems to fall down the priority list. In other words, when we are hurting emotionally, things get really out of whack. Some tend to play this “emotional pain” off as being immature or selfish and even call it being worldly. Any good bible student can demonstrate for the reader the emotions God exhibits throughout the bible. Proverbs 6:16 states how God hates. John 11:35 shows us the sadness of Christ, as He weeps. John 17 describes His joy. Exodus 20:5, God Himself says that He is a jealous God. Having read Genesis 1:26-28, we learn clearly how we are made in God’s image and that includes the emotional presence. It just so happens that God is in better control of His emotions than we are.
All this being said, pain has a way of causing various things to happen within the body of Christ. If you stub your toe, hit your thumb with a hammer or stab yourself with a knife, may I ask, “How do you react?” Are you completely calm? Or do you, after you stub your toe for instance, hop around on one foot moaning? Do you now develop a split second loathing for whatever it was that caused you such horrific agony? Having struck your thumb trying to nail something, did you toss the hammer, while screaming out? These are but simple and elementary issues of pain when compared to that of the emotional pain we experience.
How does one react discovering their spouse has committed adultery? What about learning of a friend has been gossiping or backbiting about you to others? How do we respond to rumors spread around our church with no one confronting us instead? These are just a few situations, but I think you understand what I’m getting at. The pain that comes with these things and others like them can be debilitating to our soul and our spirit. How we are treated can and does affect how we treat others and that includes God.
When someone is hurting, it is easy to withdraw or vice versa lash out. Both are very dangerous and detrimental, not only to another, but also to us. Pain may cause us to become reclusive, which will eventually lead to depression. This is very self destructive. In the case of depression, we are not capable of seeing how our actions are hurting someone else. It is not necessarily selfish, but it is self destructive. This will inevitably drive most people away from us. Many times, the reason people withdraw is for 2 main reasons: 1) they cannot deal with the drama, but more often 2) they have no idea how to help. Feeling like they have failed, they basically give up.
Another reaction to pain is to lash out. Again, this is detrimental to both the person who is suffering, as well as the ones they’re lashing out at. Initially there may be a relief of pain as we lash out, feeling like we have possibly redeemed ourselves, however eventually this also will have a self destructive consequence. If we are truly Christian, then we know retaliation is NOT in God’s will, regardless of the form taken. Some may scream, yell, curse, gossip and etc, while others will ignore, distance themselves, even essentially excommunicating someone from their presence claiming a biblical principle. However, none of these are biblical for God is ALWAYS about reconciliation, forgiveness and redemption.
In conclusion. Pain can be a very powerful tool used by the enemy to drive a wedge between those in the body of Christ. God has never instructed us that we must agree on everything, however there is always to be a spirit of love within the body of Christ. When we allow pain to dictate our actions, we allow the enemy to have a foot hold on our union with God Himself. Whether you agree or not, emotional pain affects the spirit of a person, which affects their relationship either with others and/or with God. Remember, the church is the body of Christ and He is the head. They cannot be separated.
If you are in pain, I exhort you brethren, by the tender mercies of God, present yourself unto God and allow Him to heal you. Healing will take time and possibly even seeking therapy to work through the issues. Continuing to think you can handle it yourself will only lead you deeper into depression and farther from others that love you, including God.
In His service,
2 Cor. 12:9