By: Levi Tackett
It may seem hard to believe but, pain is a good thing.
I know that we always associate pain with a negative thought or feeling. You only need to ask a mother about pain to understand that it is, and can be, a good thing. After watching my wife endure all of the pain and changes her body has gone through, she would gladly sign up for it all again because of the three beautiful children we now have.
You see, sometimes pain is a necessity and not a punishment. If something in your life is worth pain to achieve, it's meaning and importance will not only become important to you, but it will become part of who you are. Even after the victories we experience in life, we are often greeted with a painful transition to a new place physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It's this pain that often discourages Christians from continuing on and stops us from growing into all that God has in store for us.
The problem is, we are programmed to perceive pain as a negative. Did you know that without pain, we could be mortally wounded and not know? Pain is a way God designed our bodies to alert us that something has changed and to channel our focus to find out what is really going on.
This passage of scripture I am about to quote comes from the book of Joshua. It's a story about the Israelites as they began to inhabit and take possession of the Promised Land.
“WHEN ALL the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted and there was no spirit in them any more because of the Israelites. At that time the Lord said to Joshua, Make knives of flint and circumcise the [new generation of] Israelites as before. So Joshua made knives of flint and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. And this is the reason Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness on the way after they came out of Egypt. Though all the people who came out were circumcised, yet all the people who were born in the wilderness on the way after Israel came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. For the Israelites walked forty years in the wilderness till all who were men of war who came out of Egypt perished, because they did not hearken to the voice of the Lord; to them the Lord swore that He would not let them see the land which the Lord swore to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. So it was their uncircumcised children whom He raised up in their stead whom Joshua circumcised, because the rite had not been performed on the way. When they finished circumcising all the males of the nation, they remained in their places in the camp till they were healed. And the Lord said to Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you. So the name of the place is called Gilgal [rolling] to this day. And the Israelites encamped in Gilgal; and they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening in the plains of Jericho. And on that same day they ate the produce of the land: unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased on the day after they ate of the produce of the land; and the Israelites had manna no more, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” Joshua 5:1-12 AMPC
Now I know that circumcision isn't the most popular topic in the church, but let's not get sidetracked by the act but by the symbolism behind it. Let's just set the scene.
The Israelites, whom had been wondering in the wilderness for forty years had finally stepped over into this land God had promised to their fathers. They have finally arrived! Well of course, the first thing on everyone's mind was, "Now what?" God had a plan.
The act of circumcision had begun with Abraham and was a religious tradition for the Israelites to help separate themselves from the world. As often happens, while traveling in the wilderness, traditions were forgotten—or simply not deemed important to keep. God wanted to celebrate with His children by once again establishing their separation from the world and bringing them back to Him. You see, the pain wasn't a punishment, but a chance to remind God's people that they belonged to Him. The pain was worth it.
As you read in the passage that after the men were circumcised, they spent three days recovering in their tents. As per Jewish tradition, three days before Passover, the sacrificial lamb was brought into the home to live with the family. This was done to help the family bond with, and bring a more significant meaning to, the lamb that was to atone for the sins of the family. These men spent time healing with the lamb! Now if you missed that symbolism, I'm not sure I have enough time or words to explain it. If you continue on in Joshua, the next obstacle in the path of the Israelites is Jericho. We all know what happened in that particular battle.
You see, when we have stepped over into something new, often pain comes, not to punish us but, to prepare us for a bigger victory waiting on us. Pain is God's way of revealing what needs to be cut away from ourselves and gives us the opportunity to lay aside our pride while we heal and spend time with the Lamb. Ask yourself this, is the amount of pain I feel worth not seeing what lies ahead?