|Vic Morrow as Sergeant Saunders in The Walking Wounded (Combat! Season One)|
When Sergeant Saunders takes a bullet in Combat!, he might be knocked out for a bit but he’s always back in time for the next patrol (what kind of vitamins does he take, anyway?) Doc will sprinkle on some sulpha powder, wrap up the wound in a very attractive and manly-looking piece of gauze, and our hero will keep on trotting. But for the rest of us who don’t have personal medics and a public image to upkeep, pain is an ugly thing.
I’m not talking so much physical pain as I am emotional pain, although my theory can technically apply to both. Before the fall of mankind and the entrance of original sin there was obviously no pain or discomfort of any sort in this world, but after Eve ate the Klondike bar, her, Adam, and all the rest of us were doomed to wait around for the invention of Prozac and Tylenol, neither of which are very effective. But God, in His genius, inverted pain to make the end result something that will reap countless spiritual benefits for us. Think about it; if life were cheery and blissful all the time, would we ever want to change, grow, or try to improve ourselves? If everything went our way all of the time, would we ever want to leave earth?
Therefore, pain accomplishes three very important things. One, it makes us realize how dependent we are on God for everything. We are not in control, we know nothing, and we can accomplish nothing good without His grace. This is a disturbing revelation. We want to be our own masters, in charge of our own bodies and souls and deciding what is best for ourselves, but because our fallen human nature is at odds with the call to holiness, it is extremely difficult to be a good person without God’s grace and frankly impossible to be holy.
Ouch. Well, keep reading.
Secondly, pain reminds us that our home is not on this earth, but in heaven, the only place where we will truly be fulfilled, happy, and at peace. We will see all our deceased loved ones, reconcile with old friends and family, and at last be fully united and satisfied in God. I don’t know about you, but that sounds much more desirable than food, money, and sex, which is what the world tells us will make us happy (although I’m also sure that there will be a nice lasagna or two somewhere in the Promised Land for the benefit and happiness of the Italians).
Lastly, pain helps us be more compassionate towards other people. For example, I could never understand the pain of a breakup until I had been involved in one myself. I also never had a lot of compassion towards sick people until my mom shattered her ankle in a freak accident. My mom could also tell you she never appreciated being able to walk more after being bedridden for almost 3 months. She even enjoys washing the dishes now, which is quite a miracle indeed.
I’m not saying we should go around looking for pain (because seriously, who would ever want to do that?), but I will tell you to be on the lookout for opportunities to grow through your pain and learn more about your weaknesses and God’s strength. It can be an excruciating lesson that lasts a lifetime, but God never permits anything to happen that wouldn’t be for our good. Tell yourself that, over and over again if you must. And then go watch a Combat. There’s nothing a little Vic can’t cure.