THE GAIN OF PAIN
Today’s Bible Reading: Psalm 38:1–22
Have you recently hit your thumb with a hammer or stubbed your toe on the foot of your bed in the middle of the night? If so, the memory of sharp pain is fresh in your mind. It’s amazing how pain from one small body part can radiate throughout your entire body, isn’t it?
While a throbbing thumb or mangled toe might prevent us from admitting it, pain can also help us. An unexpected twinge or a persistent ache calls attention to a problem, motivating us to seek medical care—that is, if we’re smart enough to call the doctor. Spiritual pain can serve the same purpose, prompting us to seek a healthful solution.
In this passage David moves beyond mere pain to expressing his severe anguish. He feels guilty. The consequences of sin wrack his mind and body. He falls into a deep depression that carries with it a host of physical ailments. His guilt causes both mental and physical illness. And worse, David’s condition leads to serious relational problems—his friends stay far away, while his enemies sense weakness and creep in for the kill.
In serious trouble mentally, physically and relationally, what does David do? He turns to God. David knows that only God can turn his life around. He realizes that repressing his guilt will only send him spiraling deeper. So David confesses.
Do you see yourself in David’s song? Has the pain of unwise choices or of their resulting uncontrollable circumstances made your life miserable? If so, how do you respond to spiritual pain? Do you try to repress it? Do you ignore the pain, while the underlying cause grows like a cancer in your soul? Or do you recognize your spiritual pain as a warning sign to run to God, the Great Physician, for the care and comfort he alone can provide?
David, one shining Biblical model of openness toward God, sets a pattern in these psalms for those who will follow. No matter how dark the way, no matter how close the impending disaster, he shows us that God cares and will listen.
To Take Away
- What does spiritual pain feel like to you?
- Why do you think we want to repress or ignore the consequences of our sins?
- Can you recall a time when a spiritual struggle made you physically ill? undermined a relationship? What did you do?