Some of us scream, groan and pant through physical pain; others stoically squeeze our eyes shut and utter not a word, somehow attempting to swallow our suffering. When grieving, some simply cut ourselves off from people and activities while other personalities seek to touch living things like newborn animals or fledgling plants. Somewhere in or shortly after the trial, whether verbalized or not, we wonder if pain has a purpose.
In 1950, the family doctor told my parents that my fever and sore throat were probably the onset of strep throat. But pain or sudden inability can be the indicators of a disease, a warning that, if heeded, can bring immediate treatment. For this warning system of our body, we can see a purpose to pain. But in other instances, we struggle to see a purpose.
C.S. Lewis’ famous quote about pain being “God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world” is better known than the following quote by Samuel Rutherford., a Scotsman born to a farmer and his wife about 1600.Rutherford wrote out of his life experiences: in his first pastorate, his wife lay ill for 13 months before dying. During this same period, two children also died. Instead of choosing bitterness, Rutherford decided God had a different purpose. May we too allow our pain and grief to “sow heaven there.”