The other day started out with one of those crazy mornings. I had to switch the cars to get mine out of the garage, then I had to do some interesting maneuvers to back the cars—both of them—around our neighbor’s SUV on one side and the recycling bins on the other. To add insult to injury, half the world was cozy in bed, still on winter break, while I was scraping off the car in the icy darkness. And to top it all off, I was running late.
It was in the midst of these mental distractions that I slammed my car door. With my finger still in it.
It was strange because I didn’t feel a thing at first…and that’s what made me most nervous. Surely the top of my finger had been severed at the knuckle.
My pain-free bliss lasted about ten minutes into my commute, when suddenly I felt the most intense throbbing I’ve experienced since dropping a jumbo-sized bottle of hot sauce on my big toe in the third grade. Yep, my finger was still there all right. It was also bleeding profusely into my mitten.
But in the midst of my grumbling and complaining, this thought struck me with such force that I felt compelled to say it aloud: “The pain means my finger is still there. The pain means I’m very much alive.”
In his brilliant book The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Pain as God’s megaphone.
In the past year there have indeed been moments when my heart felt like it had been slammed hard in the car door, and it throbbed like the dickens (for more on that, take a look here). For the most part I nursed my wounds, grumbling and complaining, scheming about how to anesthetize the pain as quickly as possible.
But what if Lewis was right? What if those times when we experience pain are actually God’s way of getting our attention? What if the pain is an indication not only that we are indeed alive, but also that something may be off kilter in our lives?
Without pain, we keep going through life on autopilot, utterly distracted. But pain snaps us into focus, helps us reprioritize.
We don’t have much choice about when the pain comes, but we do have a choice about what we’ll do with it. Will we numb out as quickly as possible, thereby missing what God may be trying to tell us through the pain?
Next time I get slammed in the proverbial car door, I pray I’ll listen. I pray the megaphone will get my attention.