P.T. Forsyth, an early twentieth-century English preacher and writer, once described pain as a sacrament, something through which God imparts grace to us. He stated:
We pray for the removal of pain, pray passionately, and then with exhaustion, sick from hope deferred and prayer’s failure. But there is a higher prayer than that. It is a greater thing to pray for pain’s conversion than for it’s removal. It is more of a grace to pray that God would make a sacrament of it. The sacrament of pain! God has blessed pain even in causing us to pray for relief from it…. Whatever drives us to Him, and even nearer Him, has a blessing in it.
All the above is from David Timms, Sacred Waiting: Waiting in a World that Waits for Nothing. Bethany House Publishers, 2009. 135. The Forsyth quote is from his book, The Soul of Prayer and quoted in Timms’ Sacred Waiting.
Wow!! (for me at least) This gives us much food for thought especially in a society that eschews pain or suffering of any kind, even going so far sometimes to blame the sufferer for their own problem. Afterall, God helps those who help themselves, right?
Instead of eschewing our pain, God calls us to embrace the pains of life as a means of grace in that the pains of life drive us to the the only true place we can receive help and grace in our time of need, throne of God. It is only in this place that pain can transform us and draw us closer to the Lord.