“Will it hurt?” I have heard this asked so many times, as a child and as an adult. It has been addressed to doctors, parents, lab technicians, nurses, and playmates. Name anyone, and I am sure that at least once, this question has been asked of him.

People get hooked on alcohol because of the high feeling they get that numbs them from the pain of everyday living. Even the street children take to buying rugby with the little money they get from begging in the streets so that they may get sleep or feel high too and forget about the pain that comes with their present situation. Nobody will ask for pain unless he is a masochist. Nobody in his right mind will inflict pain purposely unless he has a streak of sadism in him. In other words, everyone will avoid pain at all costs.

Recently I was faced with how important pain is to keep us well and safe. My friend is distressed and worried about getting her left arm close to anything hot, sharp, or harmful because she has lost her sense of pain in the left inner side of her arm. She cited an instance when praying one day with the family, she did not realize that the match she had used to light the candle was not properly extinguished. It dawned on her only when she noticed a burn wound on her little finger.

Listening to her, I realize how important a role pain has in our lives. We want to avoid it, but we do not realize that it is pain that actually protects us from hurting ourselves, not just physically but psychologically as well. Our psyches figure out a way out of extreme pain. We rationalize, and we choose all kinds of escape mechanisms.

Even in relationships, a danger indicator is pain. When there is too much conflict between a man and a woman and copious tears are shed, sometimes the best way is out. This is recommended to preserve the ego of both parties for the good of all. It may not necessarily mean a separation for good. Sometimes it is in being apart and differentiating our identity from that of another that brings about healing. Unfortunately, it all starts with the original pain. Perhaps it gets more profound with the onset of separation, but eventually, it leads to healing.

Pain is not all that bad. Pain is an inevitable ingredient of love. By nature, love feels inadequate. Those who genuinely love often feel incompleteness and imperfection in how their love is expressed. This can be a very painful experience. But this pain teaches us to be detached. It teaches us to see each loving relationship from the proper perspective. Sometimes giving oneself over to love entails a certain loss in life and much pain, but this pain sometimes feeds the soul, making it strong and more loving.

Our Christian life is an interplay of suffering and joy. Good Friday with Easter. Our friends often remind us that being a martyr is no longer fashionable. We mouth the same advice when we encounter problems at work. Rather than suffer, we are told to make other people suffer. Rather than suffer pain in our necks, we are told to be the pain in the neck of other people. The rule of thumb in this modern life, it seems, is if you don’t get ahead, someone else will.

We need people who look beyond suffering, people who look beyond the pain. These people who look beyond the pain discover Jesus Christ.

Let us bring grace back to our life. Grace in pain, grace through suffering, grace through sacrifice. “Ibalik natin and martir.”

Jesus Our Light

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