I read a book once (Pain: the gift nobody wants), written by a doctor (Paul Brand), which talks about how very important the sensation of pain is. For example, on a basic level, you touch a hot stove, you feel pain and you remove your hand from the heat. Although the stove may cause some damage, the pain has likely saved you from combusting and burning to death. On a deeper level, Dr. Brand worked with a lot of leprosy patients who had lost feeling in their extremities. They could feel nothing. Sometimes, these people would awaken in the morning to find that rats had chewed off their toes and fingers. They had no warning system, no pain. We avoid pain as a culture. God knows that I avoid it as an individual. We do everything in our lives to remain comfortable and untouched by hurt. But we do not succeed.
I've been faced with a lot of pain lately. It seems that there is nothing going according to plan in my life. Even things that I thought I could count on, are crumbling right before my eyes. Not to say that there is not good. God is being faithful, as He always is. He doesn't leave me without hope, even if that hope seems small in the light of the rest of my day, week or month.
A friend of a friend said to me a couple of months ago that there are those times when you just walk alone, there is no one with you, no one supporting you and no one, frankly, cares much about you other than you. Those times exist.
So pain. I can look at it as something to be avoided at all costs, or I can see it as a warning. Sometimes that might be easier to see than others, get snapped at one too many times by a friend, take your hand away from the stove. Or, it might be bigger than that: don't get too comfortable where you are, if you do, the rats might start nibbling.