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Christian Counseling - Fear Of Pain

Most people tend to avoid conflict because of their fear of pain; that is, the pain they may experience and/or cause another. Much of the pain that is feared is the result of the loss of an important relationship, a loss of control and change, about which some feel phobic.

It's easy to understand why many of those who have experienced traumatic, overwhelming and chronic pain desire to avoid even a remnant of pain. It's easy for most of us to emotionally conclude that pain is an enemy to be avoided whenever possible and that pain is just bad. Intellectually, we may conclude and give assent to the Bible's position, which says pain from trials and tribulations help build things like character and hope (Romans 5:3,4). In the end, most people are conflicted about the value and experience of pain.

II Corinthians 7:8-11 describes Paul's personal conflict with hurting the church by confronting their behavior. He clarifies for them, and us, the truth that there is good pain and bad pain (sorrow). The bad pain is worldly and leads to death and destruction, but good pain leads to repentance, salvation and healthy change. We are to avoid pointless, bad pain, but face and accept good pain. We are not to spare ourselves or others from good pain. Doing so is a disservice to people's spiritual growth and God who wants to strengthen our faith, love and hope. Why the path of pain for growth? It wouldn't much exist if we listened and followed instruction. God's chastisement of the Israelites in the Old Testament was the result of their failure to listen and follow the words of God given by the prophets. Therefore, pain is absolutely necessary because it opens our ears and leads us to new behaviors. One great life task is to be open to instruction and a second is to discern between good and bad pain and respond appropriately.

Meaningless, destructive, bad pain is to be avoided. It is pain caused by evil and human error, which is not what God wills or desires. We should seek to minimize it when possible. We are to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13) and take flight from it. We should seek to protect ourselves and others from any pain that is the result of evil. Yet, it's good to know when we turn to God He will endeavor to deliver us and make good use of bad circumstances. To illustrate, Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers and caused bad pain to Joseph and his grieving father who was told he was killed by a beast. His brothers intended evil, but God, who had no desire for such an event, purposed to turn it around and use it to save their family from a coming famine. This He did by placing Joseph in a high position in Egypt who had authority over many resources, such as food. His family came to Egypt in search of food and God's plan was complete. God never wanted the evil to happen, He could have and would have created another situation that would have led to saving the family.

Good pain, on the other hand, is intended by God for the purpose of our change; our becoming like Jesus. We all need to cultivate an accepting attitude for this type of pain. Going further, we need to look for, turn to, encourage and embrace good pain. We need to have David's heart--"Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; It is oil upon my head; do not let my head refuse it..."(Psalm 141:5). Solomon said it this way: "Reprove a wise man and he will love you" (Proverbs 9:8b) and "Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear" (Proverbs 25:12). Imagine, good pain is something we could look forward to, but only when we love the truth above all else, desire to be the best man or woman of God we can be and willing to pay any price to be Christlike.

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