NO PAIN, NO GAIN
After my recent surgery, there was a lot of trouble controlling my pain. I woke up hearing someone moaning, and after a minute realized it was me. My pain meds had not fully kicked in yet, even though I was conscious. I immediately asked the nurse for help, and shortly after the pain was under control. Then a couple times, they were a few minutes late dispensing my next dose of medication, and the pain returned quickly. I took advantage of the call button next to my bed until that situation was taken care of too. At home, I set alarms for my doses, to make sure the pain didn’t spike out of control between medications. I think I tolerate pain fairly well, having lived my whole life with chronic health issues, but for some reason this surgery was harder on me than expected.
This got me thinking about our Savior on the cross. We know that He had power to heal, which He dispensed on various ailments during His ministry. He could with only a touch or a word give immediate relief from pain, disease, or disability. Yet He refused to use this power for His own benefit, either when tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-4) or on the cross.
As I said, I am no stranger to pain, with a history of severe migraines, auto-immune inflammation, and three surgeries. There have been times where my pain scale definitely topped at 10, once while I was hollering my head off with back spasms in the ER. However, I can only imagine the level of pain Jesus Christ underwent during His crucifixion. My 10 must surely pale in comparison. I luckily enough could take advantage of the quick acting – if not instant – pain relief offered by modern medicine, and I have done so without hesitation in those circumstances.
What would I have done on the cross? Would I have been able to endure that kind of agony, with instant relief literally at my fingertips, at a word, or even just a thought? No. Once those lashes started cutting into my back, or the first nail driven into my hands, I believe I would have pushed that divine call button immediately. I would have summoned those twelve legions of angels (Matthew 26:53), and rained down punishment on those who were causing me excruciating pain for no fault of my own.
But I am not the Savior. He was able to suffer what He needed to suffer, even to the point of death. “For the joy that was set before him, (He) endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). He had His mind on the goal of obeying His Father’s will, of fulfilling prophecy, and of saving the world, and that made it possible for him to go through all that, without any miraculous relief. He had to suffer that pain, to provide my gain. Through His suffering, I am spared eternal torment. Through His death, I can live. What strength of will it must have taken. And more than that, what incredible, immeasurable LOVE.
What can I do but be grateful for His sacrifice? How can I respond but to try to endure the small sufferings I am given in this life, knowing that they too are part of God’s plan in this world, and they will also bring reward in the next. None of us will suffer as much as He did, and thankfully we are not called to do so. But we can learn to endure what we are given with the same unbending will, the same gentle patience, and the same quiet endurance our Savior showed on the cross.