purpose for pain

Is there a purpose for pain?

We adopted our son Jordan in 2000. He was in the hospital for a few days after birth before we got to bring him home. “Just running a few more tests,” we were told by the doctors and nurses. We assumed this was normal procedure when adopting a newborn, although we were a bit concerned that the birth mother might be changing her mind. The agency told us not to worry and all the tests had turned out fine.

We thought it was a little odd, however, that Jordan didn’t cry when he got his first set of shots. Then, one afternoon when he was about five months old, I was home alone with him–probably engrossed in a football game, I’m afraid–when he fell off the bed. And didn’t cry. This is what we found out and what it taught me about life.

We took him to a pediatric neurologist in Tampa and started asking more questions. We learned then that unlike most babies, Jordan hadn’t cried in the hospital after birth when he was given eye drops. The neurologist suggested we take him to the University of Florida for more definitive tests. The doctors in Gainesville gave us an answer: Jordan is missing a gene, it turns out, and therefore doesn’t feel pain the way other people do.

Pain protects us.

Through Jordan, I realized that God has a purpose for pain: to protect us. God uses many things to show us what to avoid, and painful consequences often teach us lessons quickly. For example, like most kids, Jordan loves cookies. Warm cookies certainly aren’t bad for you, at least in moderation. But they are harmful if they’re still in the oven. Jordan would reach right in and pull out the piping hot cookie sheet with his bare hands. Then he would begin to eat the cookies without realizing he was burning his hands and mouth in the process. Even a trip to the emergency room didn’t help him understand that he was injuring himself.

Pain changes behavior.

Lauren and I have had to teach him the consequences of right and wrong and dangerous activities in order to protect him. Pain isn’t available to him as a teaching tool. Before we had Jordan, I hadn’t thought much about the way God uses pain to protect us from further negative consequences down the road. With Jordan, this has become obvious. Pain prompts us to change behavior that is destructive to ourselves or to others. Pain can be a highly effective instructor.

Pain can be a highly effective instructor.

We view Jordan, our son, as a special blessing. We’re grateful for our opportunity to impact and shape his life. In the process, Jordan personally illustrates for us some of the wonders of God and His plan for us. Watching the impact of that single gene reminds me how intricately each of us has been designed and created. I am continually amazed at the wonder of God’s most complex creation—people. The line between what we consider special is so fine. So many varied, delicate pieces contribute to the balance and beauty of the whole picture. Just another part of life’s journey.

Earn some points: Are you married? Share this iMOM article about the struggles of motherhood with your wife: 8 Things All Moms Feel

Sound off: What is the most beneficial lesson you have learned from pain? 

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think pain is a part of life?”