If you’ve ever traveled in Tolkien’s Middle Earth, you will know that Iluvatar gave Men, not Elves, the gift of mortality. Man’s mortality is his special gift. What a strange gift.
God gives strange gifts. Strange though they be, they are still gifts. Pain is one such gift from the Father. I spend much time and effort seeking to avoid and minimize pain. Have you joined me in avoiding a conversation that would bring forth relational pain? Have you joined me in spending money to address physical pain, mentally obsessing over it until it goes away? Have you joined me in seeking to escape dark memories that cause pain within the bones and squeeze the eye springs dry?
While I am thankful that the gift of pain is to be received in this world only, it is a gift to be received, like Robitussin. It is a gift that births greater understanding and fellowship among brethren. What could take a bunch of high-hormone high school young men from different social circles and bond them together as a team? Pain. Throwing up side by side after sprinting up and down hills repeatedly. What can knit Christians together in such a way as to endure through life’s many seasons? Pain. What bonds the servant and the King, the soldier and the Commander, the younger and Older Brother? Shared pain. What paves the very road to heaven? The stones of pain.
A strange gift it is, but a gift all the same. I stand with my Lord and my brethren in shared pain. And look forward to its sweet fruit, which we will all one day, very soon, savor together, the fruit of glory.