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 Healing Pains   

Cancer has been painless for me. I had no sign of its presence. I was living symptom free, completely unaware of a growing invasion of malignant cells.  Were it not for a careful doctor and the clarity of medical tests, I would have continued my days, oblivious to the situation, until there was no straightforward remedy. So here is the irony. My disease was painless, but the cure was not. I didn’t experience discomfort or fatigue until the surgeon did his best to fix me. Scalpel and sutures became tools of health and inflicted their own wounds. The remedy to my disease brought me pain. I walked gingerly at first, lest I jar my body with a stumble. The harmless occasions of sneezing or coughing became spasms of misery. The dog couldn’t understand why I deflected her in mid air lest she jump onto my lap. I explained to her that I was recovering and therefore experienced a bit of pain. She didn’t get it. Neither do a lot of people. There is no cure without a measure of pain.  

I can think of no better demonstration of that maxim than the cross of Jesus. We live in a broken world filled with fragmented lives. Sin has battered and bruised us to the point of spiritual death. We may or may not feel the weight of damage done by our deeds. Some seem carefree and unconscious to the hurt of their sins. Symptoms of a dead spirit may remain hidden under pampered indulgent ways. But if the soul’s cancer manifests without pain, the cure will not.  

The redemption provided by Jesus required submission, suffering and death. Jesus prayed that if it was possible, to avoid the pain. The Father said, “No.” Calvary’s cross was the means for healing of this world. It is not as if the Father delighted in the agony of His Son. He was not trying to inflict suffering for its own sake. My surgeon was not out to inflict incisions for sadist’s sake. It was necessary to remove the cancer. The disease of our world is a sickness of soul - a cancer that required the extreme measures of death to cure it. Jesus was willing to pay the price. There was no restoration and healing possible apart from pain. That was true for our Saviour at the cross and it remains true for us in our faith.  

We each carry vulnerabilities and virus of soul that we want God to deal with. We ask for healing of heart. We pray for transformation of behavior. We long for renewing of mind. The odd thing is that we expect the Spirit to do all these things for us without pain. We want a comfortable cure, a healing without hurt and change without challenge. We are confused when God seems deaf to our request. We complain about the struggle of holiness. But recovery is pain stretched over time. It can’t be rushed. It won’t be scarless. But it is life, health and wholeness.