Joy and pain aren't usually used simultaneously in one sentence. I can think of a million reasons why not. It's a robber. It robs me of comfort, sleep, social life, ability to focus and function, mobility, hobbies, and participating in my favorite activities. People ask me what my worst fear is, and my response is always pain. They are surprised to hear that it is not death as I have a terminal disease. I explain to them that death is more of a welcomed mercy...with the death of a believer this is a guaranteed end to pain and suffering when we enter into God's presence in heaven, but with pain there is never a guaranteed end. I can take pain medication like a mad person, and still be in absolute agony. I take multiple types of it around the clock, but it often only barely takes the edge off the pain. Anything can trigger chronic pain: certain movements, activities, light, sound, tasks, even the slightest bump in the road can set off my abdominal pain or spinal pain for the remainder of the day. The more I move about and try to be a functioning member of society, the louder the pain screams forcing me to succumb to its cycle of tears, isolation, and failure despite my best efforts to quell its screams with medications, a heating pad, yoga and stretching, ice packs, deep pressure therapy from my service dog, and various methods of distraction such as music, movies, and aromatherapy. This physical pain is often a catalyst to emotional pain as I realize the rejection from others due to my lack of participation, lack of independence, forced isolation, and quick loss of focus and eagerness to just leave and go home as pain sets in quickly at any outing. It's unimaginably wearisome as it robs me of sleep and results in unfulfilled desires, which results in more angry tears at how much pain can push its way into every facet of my life. Trust me, I've tried all the methods of traditional and non-traditional relief. Unfortunately a broken body or broken heart cannot be overcome with all the "tried and true" methods. Eventually, I simply must cave helplessly in to pain. It's excruciating and exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally.
“Suffering is not good in itself. What is good in any painful experience is, for the sufferer, his submission to the will of God, and, for the spectators, the compassion aroused and the acts of mercy to which it leads.” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
However, I have found that just as much as it is a cruel robber in life, it is also a giver. It gives me precious time to spend with the Lord. In the wee hours of the night when I am alone and unable to sleep due to pain, I can open my Bible under the low light of my desk lamp, close my eyes in prayer in bed, and listen to soft worship music on my iPhone from my bed. It has given me time to find solace through creativity by painting or writing poetry or on my blog despite being stuck in isolation when I am forced to stay home from yet another social outing due to the pain and fatigue being too overwhelming to leave the house. It has taught me empathy for others who are also going through the hell of searing pain. I can understand their frustrations, hurt, tears, anger, and know how to interact with them gently so I don't wake the sleeping giant of pain. It's shown me how to understand that people can look fine on the outside, but on the inside they are about to lose their mind, and just need a friend with a listening ear as people in pain have learned how to live with pain and hide it, but this in no way lessens its horrific impact. It gives me time to sit in bed on my heating pad and indulge in reading one or many books from my stack of various literary delights that have fallen to the wayside amidst the chaos of life. It gives me opportunities to build my character as it pushes my resilience, determination, endurance, and compassion in all circumstances. It gives me humility as it robs me of independence, but grants others the chance to fulfill a burning desire to help and serve, and it requires humility on my end to allow them to assist me even though I am one of the most stubborn people on the planet who will refuse help 99% of the time (I'm working on this, guys). It pushes me towards God to trust Him and that His perfect and acceptable will will be carried out despite grueling situations as He is the only one who can carry me through. Yes, pain is a robber. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. But it is also a giver if we take time to shift perspective and seek out its gifts, some that only pain can offer.
"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." ~ Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)