Monday, July 13, 2015



I am a pain wimp.

Last week I had gum surgery.

I was so nervous that I had "The Hub" come into the room with me.

At some point, trying to be encouraging, he said to me, "Just think of it like a vacation."

To which I retorted, "Perhaps a vacation to Death Valley in the middle of the summer, with no water, and a cactus to sleep on."

Later, he also asked if it was possible to put some Novocain into my head so I wouldn't think and worry so much.

To which I (jokingly?!) replied, "I changed my mind.  You can leave the room now."

How I appreciate "The Hub" – he always finds a way to make me laugh in a tough situation!

Let me tell you, the whole procedure was nothing like I expected.  It took a long time, it was very uncomfortable (even with the fun pain-killing shots), and there was so much tugging and pulling and grinding.  A lot of pressure was applied to my teeth and gums – which I realized was a LOT of pressure when the dental assistant placed her hand under my chin and pushed it up to counteract what the dentist was doing.

I kept my eyes closed the entire time.

When it was (finally) over, I breathed the biggest sigh of relief.

So, I'm four days into recovery.  

For the next two weeks, I can only eat soft food, and only chew on one side of my mouth.  Which requires a lot of mental concentration, and an inordinate amount of time to eat, as it's such a habit to chew on BOTH sides. And my mouth doesn't open very wide.  (Maybe I'll lose some weight??)  

Pain, yes, but thankfully it's manageable with some ibuprofen.

But, I tell you what, the whole experience has me thinking about pain.

I know many of your stories out there in Blog Land, and I know that many of you are physically suffering.  Some of you are dealing with chronic pain and life-sapping conditions that refuse to go away.  Some of you are fighting cancer or another debilitating disease.

Some of you are going through painful emotional loss – either through grieving the death of a loved one, or the awful ache of a prodigal child, or the despair of a broken marriage.

Some of you struggle with the agony of unremitting anxiety, or the dark cloud of depression, or some sort of other daunting mental struggle. 

Pain – it takes such a toll.

And, for the believer, there is additional pain that terrible underlying thought that crosses every honest mind:

"Why does God allow suffering?"

It's a question that's been asked since man was cast out of the Garden.  And it will be asked until all things are made new.  It is a mighty stumbling block for those who do not believe in our Savior.

But it trips us up, too.

I have no real answer – I struggle with it.

I've thrown that question – WHY? – at heaven on more than one occasion.

Haven't you?

But, have you ever thought of pain being a protective mechanism?

Many years ago, I read a wonderful book on this issue of suffering – Philip Yancey's "Where Is God When It Hurts?"

I was particularly impressed with the beginning, when Yancey discusses his time spent with Dr. Paul Brand.

Dr. Brand was a great medical missionary.  And most of his work was concentrated on helping people plagued with leprosy.  He was the first physician to understand that the disease of leprosy did not actually cause the rotting away of tissues.  Rather, he discovered that it was the loss of the sensation of pain that made sufferers susceptible to injury.

He once said,  "If I had the power to eliminate human pain, I would not exercise that right.  Pain's value is too great."

(Dr. Brand also co-authored with Yancey, "Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants" (1993), republished in 1997 as "The Gift of Pain.")

I remember how I used to think that God banishing Adam and Eve from Eden was cruel, mean, heartless – that it was a great punishment.  It took me a long time to finally understand that it was, instead, salvation.

Pain is a sign of God's love. 

(Yes, even as I write that, I am cringing.  It sounds wrong.  But I believe that it is the toughest and best kind of Truth).

You see, pain tells us something is wrong.

C.S. Lewis, in his great treatise on the issue of suffering, "The Problem of Pain," says this:

"Pain insists upon being attended to.  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."

Yes, perhaps the toughest lesson of all is this – 

God allows pain to accomplish a greater good.

And one of the *greater goods* is knowing that something is, indeed, wrong in our lives.  And this *wrong* can only be made right by the righteousness of a Savior.

Tough love – but Love still the same.

However, and this is my opinion, I think it's all right to tell Him the truth when we communicate with Him about our pain.

I think it's OK to be angry, or disappointed, or frustrated, or sad, or afraid, or disillusioned, or even crushed and broken.

Recently I was part of a Bible Study that studied the life of David.  And I was particularly moved by the whole passage when Uzzah was killed for touching the Ark.

I know all the "biblically correct" reasons that this happened.

But what I found most interesting was David's reaction.  The Bible states it this way:

"David was angry because the LORD's anger had burst out against Uzzah…David was now afraid of the LORD, and he asked, 'How can I ever bring the Ark of the LORD back into my care?'"  (2 Samuel 6:8-9)

David, who thought he was doing a good thing, and who was praising the Lord for His goodness, stunningly encountered pain.

And he reacted with anger and fear.

But at this moment, David was presented with a choice.  He was at a crossroads in his faith journey.

Would he turn away from, or would he turn toward God?

Would he abandon the Lord, or would he instead abandon his preconceived notions about the issue of suffering?

David had to move beyond devastation.

When we are confronted with blazing pain and suffering, we need to do the same thing.

We need to understand that there is something far more important than having a feel-good life.

God wants us to BE good.

Like His Son.

Who, thankfully, also struggled with pain.

And questioned it…twice.

(I have a feeling that His conversation with God was much longer than this. But Scripture records Him asking twice for God to change His mind.  I love that.  It gives me permission to question, too – more than once!)

"And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire'...Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, 'My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.'" 
(Matthew 26:39, 42,  AMP)

Questioning, yes – turning away, no.

Begging for relief, yes – spurning the purpose, no.

Pleading for another way, yes – disobedience, never.

So, in our dearest Savior Jesus we have the example of how to deal with our pain.

I believe we are allowed to not like it, to wrestle against it, to struggle with accepting it.  

I think we are invited to be completely honest with our Creator.  Not disrespectful, but straightforward…

"Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with fullest confidence…" (Hebrews 4:16, PHILLIPS)

Other translations say "boldly approach."

And why can we do that?

Because of Jesus.

The word "therefore" means "for that reason; consequently."

Example – This is true, therefore we can do this other thing.

And the beginning *true* is this:

We have Jesus – our High Priest – who understands it all – who has passed through the worst sort of pain – and entered into glorious reward.

We can follow His humble example through suffering(not liking one single moment) –  for a greater good – (our transformation) – and one day enter into our eternal reward.

Pain hurts so bad, Lord.

Help us, we pray, through the struggle.

Tools of the Trade 

"Then the LORD God said, 'Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil.  What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it?  Then they will live forever!'  So the LORD God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made." (Genesis 3:22-23, NLT)

But man was only sent to till the ground out of which he was taken.  He was sent to a place of toil, not to a place of torment.  Our first parents were shut out from the privileges of their state of innocency, yet they were not left to despair.  The way to the tree of life was shut.  It was henceforward in vain for him and his to expect righteousness, life, and happiness, by the covenant of works; for the command of that covenant being broken, the curse of it is in full force: we are all undone, if we are judged by that covenant.  God revealed this to Adam, not to drive him to despair, but to quicken him to look for life and happiness in the promised Seed, by whom a new and living way into the holiest is laid open for us." -- (From Matthew Henry's Commentary)

"...he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them." (Isaiah 19:20, NIV)

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11, ESV)

"For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.  Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]." (Hebrews 4:15-16, AMP)

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:17, NIV)

"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV)

What are you going to do at the crossroads of suffering?

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BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"


  1. WOW Sharon what a great summation and example(s) of pain and suffering you have provided especially these keys lessons found from Matthew 26:

    "Questioning, yes – turning away, no.

    Begging for relief, yes – spurning the purpose, no.

    Pleading for another way, yes – disobedience, never."

    I pray that your healing will be quick and the pain little, even if it may be seen as a gift, pain is still pain ... and not so easy to endure or overlook, so I'm hoping God provides the strength and relief you need as you heal. So glad the "Hubs" was there, even with his humor commentaries. I'm sure his presence and His Presence made the difference. Sounds so excruciating 'cuz I'm a pain wimp too especially with teeth ... whereas Sam has a high tolerance to pain, making him less sympathetic. I, on the other hand, feel your pain, empathize and have great compassion. May His Grace see you through this time of healing (and it looks like fasting too) ... how difficult. I knew something must have been up when I did not see you around so I prayed not remembering that you had this upcoming surgery and when ... I guess that's my only response I have for the crossroads of suffering too ... PRAYER and meds if possible. I'm the least likely to see or believe that pain and suffering are a gift so I will ponder on what you've penned and your favorite author quotes. (btw... I did not know this but Philip Yancey has a blog) ... he actually had an event this past spring where he spoke on M.O.W. "Suffering and Grace" ("Two Themes that Haunt Me...") which will give me something to view and learn about now in my time offline healing. Who would have thought that God would use your teeth (gums) to teach you (us) about "healing"? All I know is that whether it's physical, emotional, spiritual or whatever healing that involves pain and suffering first, that I have a difficult time embracing or dealing with "pain" and the Almighty God knows this and Jesus, Our Lord is my greatest gift of coping ... pain is inevitable, even if it's temporary (or the poor people that suffer long term) ... our reaction and the experience shapes our destiny, however Jesus warns us in John 16:33: "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Thank You Jesus! help us remember this (and the verses above) when life seems to overwhelm us with pain and suffering on our journey to You and being more like You!

    Love you Sharon (hugs) and prayers as you heal,
    (see ya' in 2 weeks, rest and recover, don't worry about all the rest of stuff until you're up to par, unless it takes your mind off it temporarily, it's time for healing)

  2. Ouch, Sharon, with your gum surgery and the subsequent recovery; I hope it is a quick one over the next 2 weeks and there are no complications that you have to deal with. It is so true that if our body didn't respond to a physical type of pain, i.e. putting our hands on a stove burner, if we didn't feel that pain; we would end up injuring ourselves more than we do. As hard as it is to deal with sometimes, we do need the pain of life to realize we need a Savior and also to realize that this life is not all that there is; we have a much better home waiting for us. I used to struggle about why bad happened to good people but have heard lots of great sermons over the years about it and have come to terms of it, realizing we live in a flawed world and there is evil all around us, plus sometimes God allows the bad so that we can grow through it, as his goal is to make us like Jesus. So yes, pain can be good, even though it painful (no pun intended) as we go through those circumstances.


  3. Sharon, I read a book I think called "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made" by Paul Brand and Phillip Yancey. In it he talks about working with leapers. It helped me appreciate pain as a source of protection. But like you said, some pain doesn't seem to make sense. When Job brought his questions to God, instead of answering them He showed Job Himself. And that was enough. When Jesus explained to His disciples what was about to happen and why He would go the the cross, it didn't help them at the time. Some answers we aren't able to understand yet.

  4. Pain isn't a bad thing as long as God's purpose is in it and we don't fall into victim thinking. It protects us and humbles us and fills us with compassion for others. May your recovery be restful and bring speedy healing.

    So did you eat the peanut butter & butter sandwich yet? or is it too soon? I'm glad my post motivated you to my favorite soft food too! That's why they call me Saleslady.


  5. Ugh. Now you have me hoping more than ever that this little toothache I've been having will go away on its own! ha. Sorry for all the pain you had to go through, Sharon. I'm not a pain fan either. But I do think a lot about it due to some chronic pain I deal with. I was just reading today some quote by Richard Rohr about the difference between pain and suffering. We can't always avoid pain, but we can avoid some of our suffering if we'll just accept that we can't control the pain (or something like that; I didn't quote him well at all! ha).

    That "Pain" book by Yancey and Brand is one of my favorites! So insightful.

  6. I am so sorry for the pain you are in and I pray it subsides and you healing is quick! I have never had the pleasure of experiencing this...yet. I don't even know where to begin to comment on the message here. There is nothing I can add that hasn't already been said. I know that I know that I know that God will use every kind of pain that we go through to deepen our walk with Him...but we have to let Him and then let it go. I hope you are feeling much better soon and enjoy that pudding! :)

  7. You poor dear! I am so sorry you had to undergo this...I recently had something similar, and the dentist had to "move my bone"!!! Oh, my, I was so panicked sitting there listening to her tell me she had to "move the bone again". SO unnerving, and so much pain afterwards. But, God is so faithful...even while we are IN the battle, He is in there with us. I trust your healing process goes very smoothly and with no complications. I am praying for you often and love you dearly.

  8. I used to fear the dentist, probably because all the major fillings I had at 12 years old were done without Novocain. I am not sure if they just didn't use it then or it would cost extra which would have been a problem for my parents budget.
    I enjoyed your post and your hubby was a lovely man to try to lift your spirits. I probably would have banished him to the waiting room as well. Sorry you are still having pain, and this will certainly be a long time wise healing. Home made Soups in the blender are good, and you are probably tired of Jell-O. Thank you for sharing yet another awesome story with us here at Tell me a Story.

  9. "Questioning, yes – turning away, no.

    Begging for relief, yes – spurning the purpose, no.

    Pleading for another way, yes – disobedience, never."

    It took me so many years to realize it, Sharon, but discomfort and suffering are ways in which we can actually draw closer to God. We no longer have control or reliance upon ourselves. We give ourselves up completely to His love and mercy.
    In light of all the pain, my friend, I pray you are on the mend with God's help!

  10. "Pain insists upon being attended to. 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." Yep, that is exactly how God works. There is no maturing in the Lord without pain of some kind because it drives us to our knees before a Holy God. Praying your recovery continues.

  11. Yikes Sharon. Gum surgery. Glad you're on the healing side of it. And pain, emotional or physical is no fun.

  12. I had NO idea about the leprosy. The whole post got me thinking about what we would be like if we were oblivious to things that are wrong in our lives - how would we ever know that we weren't operating, really, outside the life God has for us? I think how many times I have experienced pain because of my own poor choices, but I also think about how I have experienced pain in situations not of my doing. But both kinds of pain had the ability to drive me closer to the One who understands it all.

  13. Good post and good perspective of pain. Stopping by from #raralinkup

  14. Pain insists upon being attended to. 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." Yes I have had this occur in my life often when God needs to speak with me. Hope you feel better soon. Stopping by from Reflect.

  15. I love this perspective Sharon! Pain for the purpose of a greater good! Jesus is our best example in how to approach pain. Thank you for the reminder. Your neighbor at Holley's linkup today.

  16. Loved this post! I've been blessed to be your neighbor two weeks in a row. I love your stories, your sense of humor, and your presentation of His word. I agree with you. God welcomes our true, honest feelings, even if we're angry! He already knows anyway. Neighbor at #threewordWednesday.

  17. Often it's hard to find the reasons in why there is suffering in this world, especially when it's us. In the end all things are caused or allowed by God in this world and He works all things for His perfect glory and good. It just takes time to see it... maybe even until we reach perfection on the other side of the great curtain...

  18. I love reading your writing. I've been through the dental issues and it's not fun I know. I read Yancy's book and love his story about the leprosy doctor. Very interesting about the not having pain is a factor in this disease. Certainly a message in that huh? I know it's through the tough times I usually have a growth spurt. But it's all in how we react to it as to how we come out of it.

  19. I feel your pain, Sharon. My mom had that surgery a few years back and it was all together gruesome. Praying you're feeling better. Love your summary of God's purpose in pain. I agree - we can be honest with Him about, He's a safe place to cast our cares. I know that I've seen Him do great work through pain, and while I'm not quite ready to say that I'd do it over again, I can't say I regret it either. Thank you for sharing your perspective. Your neighbor at #belovedbrews.

  20. I always get so excited when we are on the same Jesus wave-length with our weekly blogs, Sharon. Both of us talking about pain/hurt/unwanted testimonies if you will.

    And I absolutely love your perspective on this. And will be praying for your speedy recovery.

    PS I also thing "Our Hubs" would both be BFFs. They sound very similar in their mannerisms. :-)

  21. Wonderful lessons from that uncomfortable trip, huh?
    You have one great hubby. You are so blessed.

    Well, when it comes to pain, I think all of us who went through different kinds of pain are blessed. Because beautiful things really happen afterwards. It's when we appreciate the blessings.

  22. I love this post so much!! You nailed the pain issue :) even though I am sorry you are suffering. The Sweetheart has an abscess right now and is in agony. His appointment isn't until Monday but they did give him antibiotics and pain meds. He feels your pain! Thank you for the reminders we need occasionally of the value of pain and suffering. ♥

  23. What great thoughts and perspective. Hope you recover well, best wishes!

  24. Praying God continues to reveal his truths to you during this time. Thank you so much for sharing. It is always so amazing the tools God uses to teach us and draw us closer to him. Many blessings on your healing. Cheers, Tiffany

  25. I pray for a speedy healing process for you, Sharon. I love how you always have a wonderful life lesson to share with us, even from your personal suffering. You are a blessing!

  26. Oh, Sharon, bless your heart. Hope you're feeling somewhat better by now.
    Great thoughts about the protectiveness of pain. So thankful that we have a Father who practices protective "tough love." Where would we be without Him? :) Thank you for sharing this morning. Hope you feel better soon. ~ blessings ~

  27. hi sharon, i'm your next door neighbor at give me grace. that gum surgery sounds brutal:( hope you feel better soon. i enjoyed your post.

  28. Sharon, I'm sorry you had to endure that, and I pray for a quick recovery and complete healing. Thank you for always being so encouraging and shining a light on my path.

  29. I couldn't even finish reading. I'm way behind on seeing a dentist and I know I am going to need a whole bunch of things done :( Wishing you well.

  30. I'm so sorry you are in pain but I'm so thankful that you can minister to us through your pain. Thank you for sharing at Waiting on...Wednesday! I look forward to your post tomorrow!

    Holly @


"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

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