The Usefulness of Pain

Recently my surrogate Sicilian dad, Mario, was taken to the hospital due to severe chest pain. He spent the night in the hospital but was released the next morning when the chest pain subsided. No immediate conclusions were drawn from whatever tests may have been performed during the night.

Fast forward almost two weeks.

I walked into Mario’s coffee bar on a late Friday afternoon. I had seen him an hour before and all seemed well but an hour later, I stopped back by the bar to find him sitting down at one of the tables with one of his brothers and his son-in-law standing nearby…

He was in a lot of pain and pretty scared. Several family members who were present were busy gathering necessary provisions as they waited for Mario’s oldest son to arrive to drive him to the hospital.

After a number of tests, it was discovered Mario had a primary artery that was almost completely blocked. An operation was scheduled immediately and two two stints were put in.

His doctors had said it was critical he came in when he did (even though he had just gone in a week earlier because he was having severe chest pain and they didn’t catch it then! I’m still a bit upset the hospital staff didn’t catch it sooner but as the saying goes, “better late, than never!”).

Mario returned home a couple days after the operation.

This incident has been a great reminder to me there is purpose and usefulness to pain. In this case, had Mario not had as much pain as he did, he wouldn’t have gone to the hospital when he needed to. At first, when the chest pain started, he kept thinking it was heart burn but when the pain got much more severe than any heart burn he had previously experienced, it became clear to him it had to be something else.

Our bodies our equipped with a very needed system that enables us to feel pain when something is wrong so that we will pay attention and give the care that is due to whatever members of the body are not functioning as they ought. Without pain, shy of external bleeding or significant swelling, we might not be aware that what is going on inside of us that needs are attention. Pain also helps us gage the severity of an injury or in the case of soreness, the extent to which we worked or perhaps, overworked our bodies.

We need pain.

We need to be able to feel pain.

Pain may not be in any way, enjoyable or desirous but I do find great hope and motivation to persevere through it knowing God has a good purpose for all the painful things we experience in this life in addition to all the practical purposes pain serves.

I find it also helps to know God knows every possible way by which we can be brought from where we are today, to where He is leading us. If our particular paths we travel involve various trails and sufferings of every manner, it is because these are the very things necessary to achieve in and through us that which we were made for.

Mario is doing much better now. Numerous times over the past few weeks when I’ve stopped into the bar to see him and his wife, Pina, I’ve thanked the Lord for protecting Mario and restoring his health. It also periodically crosses my mind to praise God for the intense pain he had. I can’t say I am in the habit of being grateful for pain but I really don’t want to know what might have happened had Mario not had such severe chest pain that day.

Thank you, Jesus, that pain has a purpose.


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