Romans 5:3 ~ pain –> joy

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance." Romans 5:3 (NLT)

Just as I can't imagine the pain of childbirth (even though I must have gone through it at some point in my life!)… so it is hard to imagine joy coming from laborous trials.  But, just as with my own childbirth… and the birth of my children… I have over the years begun to find thanksgiving in the process of pain.

Bono wrote the following lyrics as a song to God:

“Yahweh, Yahweh.  Always pain before the child is born.

Yahweh, Yahweh. Tell me now, why the dark before the dawn?

Take this city, a city shining on a hill,

Take this city, if it be your will.

What no man can own,

No man can take,

Take this heart, take this heart.

And make it break.”[1]


Somehow, a sad face is good for the heart… or so the writer of Ecclesiasties (7:3) has said.  Over the years, however bizarre it may seem, I've found this to be true.  The following story for instance, which I've shared on a few occasions, has witnessed to me a profound lesson of life: Pain, and the endurance of pain, is a necessary process for the capturing of joy.

Several years ago our son fell and ripped part of the cartilage on the top of his right ear.  While he screamed ear-piercingly, we took him down to the hospital clasping his ear and his head together.  He did not want to be there and he fought against the nurses.  He yelled angrily at all of us to stop touching him and to leave him alone.  We tried to reveal his condition to him- that he had ripped his ear and we needed to tend to it.  But our son did not want to face that fact!  And when he saw the needle and thread in the doctor's hands, our petite three-year old rebelled!  He took two parents, two nurses, a doctor, and some tightly wrapped blankets around his body to hold him down.  Even though his ear was broken, he was more afraid to face the pain of healing! 

The doctor grabbed the torn piece of his ear, and proceeded to make several “popping” stitches through the cartilage.  My precious child shrieked in pain and rage.  Unfortunately he was unable to see, let alone understand, that his dad was crying along with him.  He couldn’t make sense out of the process and he didn’t want this kind of attention any longer!  If this was healing, if this was what it took to be restored, my son at that time wanted no part of it.  He would have much rather run away and hid in the dark, bloodied and broken.

Finally the doctor made his final pop and pulled the stitches tight.  Our son made one last scream and would have collapsed had he not been held by five grown-ups and a tightly wound blanket.  His red swollen ear was again in one piece and his tears had pooled on his face.  Eventually, almost in an acceptance of a much-needed sabbath, my son moved into a calmer breathing between the sobs. 

Now, many years later, my son’s ear doesn’t even show a scar from the incident. His ear has been completely healed.  But I haven't forgotten that it took some extra examination and hurt for that healing to take shape.

[1] Lyrics written by Bono and taken from the song, Yahweh on the album How to Dismantle and Automic Bomb by U2 © 2005.

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