That phrase – no pain, no gain – has alternately either annoyed me or haunted me in my life. Today I learned a lesson about it that is well worth repeating. An elderly friend of mine recently opted for a hip replacement operation in spite of her advanced years and other health problems. She survived the surgery, but instead of having hip pain, she now has excruciating pain in her lower leg (same one that was operated on) from tendinitis. Today I stopped by to visit her after work and discovered her working with her therapists. She was in such pain that she could not move the leg at all. They put some ice on the leg and left for awhile so that it could take effect. They didn’t want to give her more pain medication at that time. After they had gone, I sympathized with my friend and we prayed a little and she told me about her troubles with the pain. I wanted to take her pain away and relieve her agony. She said that she had wanted to give up that morning but that the therapists wouldn’t let her. We talked in such a vein for about ten minutes, with me offering her much sympathy and feelings of pity.
Then the door to her room suddenly opened and her daughter entered, having come 200 miles because of her mother’s post operative difficulties. She was instantly all business. She said, “Mom, you have to move that leg.” She began gently moving the leg even though her mother was crying out in pain. She said, “You have to move it yourself.” Her mom answered, “I can’t move it by myself.” To which her daughter replied, “You ARE doing it.” I looked down and in fact she WAS moving the leg on her own. Her daughter didn’t stop there. She said, “Mom, you’re the one who wanted this operation. You HAVE to cooperate with the therapists. You have to go down to the gym to the therapy session tomorrow.” She continued on and also spoke to me about her mother’s apparent stubbornness to do what the therapists wanted.
The whole thing seemed a bit harsh to me, but it started to work. The situation brought to my mind that old saying about no pain, no gain and I realized that my attitude was actually hindering her from becoming well. Her daughter, who is a nurse, insisted that if she didn’t start working on the therapy in spite of the pain, she would never get out of that wheelchair and in fact, if she didn’t start exercising both legs, the pain might worsen and the other leg might also start causing her trouble. So, my friend is finding herself in the odd predicament in her elder years where the only way to get past her pain is to work through it in spite of it.
Although this seems like a tragic way to spend one’s older years, I realized that I shouldn’t look at it in that way. It isn’t such an odd predicament at all because it happens to us throughout our lives. It is an experience common to us all. When I look back through the scenarios of my life, I can see that the times that were the most painful also brought about the most growth. I learned a lot through those horrendous experiences and I am able to draw on them at times when others need some kind of encouragement in working through their own troubles. The only way to get past the difficulties in our lives is to work through them, to maintain the struggle in spite of the pain it causes us. We look at ourselves and see things that need to be changed. Bit by bit, by exercising that bit of God’s nature that He placed inside of us, we begin to work through the pain and in the end it’s the only way that we become victorious.
We will stand up, but only if we fully cooperate with our divine therapist, day by day exercising our spiritual muscles. We will walk again with God if we maintain the good fight until the end. All things do work together for our good because they are brought into our lives by our infinitely loving Father who sees what we need so much better than we ever could.