Not long ago, my body gave me a little gift. I awoke suddenly one night with a smarting pain in the body. No matter how I fidgeted and adjusted, the hurt in my lower back only intensified.
The best way I can describe the discomfort compares to having a doctor insert a three-inch hypodermic needle just to the left of the spine, exactly where the kidney sits. Occasionally, just for fun, the doc then twists the needle in a slow, clockwise motion.
The pain literally nauseated me.
Never before had I experienced such an inescapable ache.
The most frightful part was I had no idea what was happening.
Pain in the Body—It Can’t Mean What it Means, Right?
As I described the symptoms to a doctor friend of mine the following day, he said it sounded like a kidney stone.
It’s probably just a kidney infection, I thought, not a kidney stone.
As a boy, I had watched my father struggle to pass a kidney stone, and it wasn’t pretty.
- From my perspective at that time, I thought his kidney stone was just part of being old.
- And since I wasn’t old . . . I was safe.
- Perfectly logical.
A couple of days later, I sat in the urologist’s office, staring at the educational posters on his walls that scare patients into healthy living.
The doctor came in, shook my hand, and announced in a ho-hum manner, “You have a kidney stone.”
Pain in the Body is Only a Symptom
Holding up my x-ray, the doctor pointed to a small, delta-shaped blip between my kidney and my bladder. It looked to me like lint on the x-ray, so I asked if he was sure.
He just looked at me for a moment. “Yes, and it’s as large as a raisin.”
Suddenly, I felt really old.
As he proceeded to describe my options for removing the stone, I felt like King David having to choose his method of punishment from God after David’s impetuous census (2 Samuel 24:13-14).
- NONE of the options sounded good.
- I decided, as David had, rather than placing myself in the hands of men I would fall upon the mercies of God—and see if the stone would pass on its own.
As it turns out, God’s mercies take their sweet time.
Pain in the Body—A Lesson for the Soul
Dealing with chronic pain day after day, sometimes minute by minute, can challenge a belief in the goodness of God. Waiting for that little darling to pass made me rethink my theology of Purgatory.
After three weeks, the little monster finally was exorcised from my body.
“You need to drink more water,” the doctor told me on my follow-up visit.
Uh, yes—I am convinced. “Converted” might be a better word.
- The kidney stone wasn’t my problem. It only revealed it.
- My problem was dehydration.
Sometimes the pain we experience—be it pain the body, in our relationships, or in the spiritual life—is just part of living in a fallen world.
But very often, pain also serves as a warning that something in our lives needs to change.
Pain is a warning in our lives that something needs to change. Usually, that means us. (Tweet that.)
Tell me what you think: What lesson has pain in the body taught you? To leave a comment, just click here.
This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing.
• What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life he has given you?
• If you find yourself waiting on God—or if you don’t know what God wants you to do next—this book offers a wise and practical guide to finding hope and peace in life’s difficult pauses.
You will discover what to do when it seems God does nothing.