Pain Demands to be Felt

shoes3Look at the bravery in this story from Luke 5.

Luke 5:12 – In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy.

When you click the “continue reading” button you will see a picture of an advanced case of leprosy. It is too gross to post for all surfers to see. Leprosy is a disease that works like an anesthetic that attacks the pain cells of hands, feet, nose, ears, and eyes to produce numbness. Leprosy is a bad disease because sufferers simply have a defective pain system. So say you have leprosy and you have sprained your ankle. You won’t know that you sprained your ankle because the pain system to tell you that it is sprained is defective. Instead of stabilizing your ankle and staying off of it, you would continue to walk on it thus increasing the damage until permanent damage is done. Hence the damage in the picture. The man in our story is in the advance stages of leprosy so we can safely assume that he has a lot of appendage damage. He also may be near blind as another effect of leprosy is blindness because the defective pain system in your body doesn’t tell your eyelids to blink when a particle gets into it.

leprosyThe rest of Luke 5:12 – When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

A brave statement the man made to the passing-by, just-becoming-known Teacher. Perhaps he can get his attention enough to ask for Jesus to allow him to feel pain again. That is what a leper is asking for when he is asking for healing. To feel pain again.

In the best seller YA book, The Fault in Our Stars, one of the characters is losing his eyesight due to his cancer. In a cathartic rage, one of the main characters says, “’Feel better?’” he asked. ‘No,’ Isaac mumbled, his chest heaving. ‘That’s the thing about pain, Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. ‘It demands to be felt.’”

Pain demands to be felt.

Pain demands to be felt.

So many choose numbing ourselves over feeling our pain. Whether it is cutting, eating disorders, porn, shopping, busyness or using that shield that is our mobile phone. You know what you do to numb yourself. Thus we would never ask Jesus—much less beg—to feel pain again.

Luke 5:13 – Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.

Jesus reached out and touched him. What a beautiful picture. Jesus touched a man who could not feel the touch.

And then…the man could feel again! Was the first touch the man felt Jesus’ hand? Beautiful thought.

I wonder if the man’s appendages were ever healed completely but I do believe his pain system was healed. He went away happy that he could feel pain again. We can assume he was happy because even though Jesus asked him not to share what happened, the word got out. Luke 5:15-16 – But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

Have you ever thought of asking Jesus to help you feel your pain again? This sounds like such a crazy prayer. But to live a brave life, we must face our pain—not numb our pain—and grow. As painful as pain is, there is a beauty in pain. None of this is said lightly. I don’t know your pain but neither do you know mine. I do know that facing my pain and growing through it has made me brave. After what I have lived through, I feel that nothing can knock me out of my faith and knock me out of God’s path for me. I choose bravery.

This is I also know. Even when in the deepest pain, God is near me. This I know.

Side note: Be grateful for eyelids. Be grateful you have a pain system that works. Gratefulness is a practice that keeps you engaged no matter what comes your way. And when you practice gratitude, you’ll be surprised at how often joy comes from ordinary moments, like eyelids. When you are living through pain, those ordinary moments are welcomed.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is Romans 15:13 but that is also my prayer for you.

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About Be Brave

Brenda Seefeldt began life in youth ministry in 1981. That is before the internet, YouTube, texting and even before PowerPoint. (But it was after flannel boards.) Brenda has written and shared much of what she has learned through the resource of Wild Frontier and in many youth ministry publications as she continues on in youth ministry. Brenda is a brave one. She stutters yet is a national speaker. She loves teaching so much she’s also been a substitute teacher for over 20 years. She’s brave enough to enter any classroom at a middle school. She also simply loves teaching groups, whether they are teens or adults. Due to the many years of youth ministry, Brenda has “coached” many grown teens in dating. She finds herself very opinionated on that with lots to share. Brenda loves her God-given family–four sons and 4 grandchildren. They are God-given, not birthed. That alone is a brave story, one she tells here and there as the story really belongs to her sons.

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