Part of the Process

Last week, Theo had his tonsils and adenoids removed. It is very aggressive for a routine and outpatient procedure, at least from my amateur perspective. He is a trooper, and with the help of the hospital’s list of best practices, we kept his pain level to a minimum, at least for a few days.
But then, five days after surgery, he began to cry and complain a little more. As the medical personnel described the process, they compared the pain to a sore muscle. In the same way your muscles become more sore a few days after a strenuous workout, this is the body’s way of coping with new tissue forming. The pain that he feels is that muscle in his throat growing back, and that pain compounds and becomes more intense as time progresses; then, at some point, he’ll turn the corner, and he won’t notice that aching pain. 
This takes us to a conversation I had with him yesterday after he refused to eat anything for breakfast because it hurt. Obviously, in pain and aching in a way that is hard to comfort, I offered him some options for breakfast—ice cream, yogurt, Jell-o, finely ground oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs, etc. But nothing sounded palatable or soothing to him. He interpreted all of my offerings as attacks on his sore throat. A little cold food would actually help him to feel better if he can get past the thought of swallowing. 
To calm him down, I told him I knew it hurt and would take all the pain away if I could. In fact, as a loving dad, I would gladly suffer in his place if it were possible. I would absorb his pain so he wouldn’t have to endure it. But we all know that is not how healing works. If we are honest, we know that all healing has an element of pain. Yet, we want to live a pain-free life. And we will go to great lengths to keep from feeling any discomfort. But pain is necessary and should be desired. Take this passage from Ecclesiastes. 
Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 NLT – “Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies–so the living should take this to heart. 3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. 4 A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.”
Sadness, pain, and discomfort have a way of refining us and making us better. As they say in the weightlifting world, “No Pain- No Gain.” If you want to get stronger, you must push yourself to a fatigue level that you had not previously endured. It is truth physiologically and spiritually. This doesn’t mean that we seek out pain but embrace it as part of life and allow it to have its refining characteristics on us. We all want to have growth and renewal without pain. And I genuinely believe if it were possible, God, as a perfect Father, would gladly take that pain for us. But He knows that it will make us stronger and perfect us. 
Speaking of refining, our ordeals prove what we are made of, what is in our hearts. As the proverb states, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3 NASB20). And later, as Peter spoke of our momentary struggles, they have a way of testing or proving our faith…and the end result is the continued salvation of our souls. 
1 Peter 1:6-9 – “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Notice that this is regarding various trials; it is not limited to physical or spiritual. The things that cause us grief in this world all have a way of examining and assessing our hearts and faith. Pain, grief, and suffering are the reality; Theo had to have his tonsils out. They obstructed his breathing and disrupted his sleep, and when he would get sick, they became incredibly painful. And so yes, for a while, he will have to endure a level of suffering, and I wish I could take it away and ease it completely. But I know that the suffering he is enduring will be worth it. He will be better because he has endured. And when we are in these difficult trials, we hate to be reminded of this reality, but without the pain, there is no gain, and it is all a Part of the Process. 

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