DR. PAUL BRAND was an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in treating leprosy in India and Louisiana. Leprosy (or Hansen’s disease) is a disfiguring disease cause by a bacterial infection. Once considered incurable, leprosy can now be cured with antibiotics. One effect of the disease is that it destroys the nerves and causes numbness–a lack of pain sensation–in the limbs.
On one occasion, at a time when the disease was still considered incurable and the antibiotic treatments were still unknown, Dr. Brand was traveling by train in England.As he was getting ready for bed, he removed his shoes and socks and discovered to his horror and dismay that he had no feeling in his heel. He rubbed his heal, and the numbness persisted. He took a pin out of one of the shirts in his suitcase and jabbed into hard into the heel. Blood beaded up from the puncture wound, but still he felt no pain.
His mind awhirl with fear, Dr. Brand spend most of the night lying awake, imagining his new life as a leprosy victim. He would have to live in isolation from his family and suffer the progressive deterioration caused by a then-incurable disease.
In the morning, he sat up in bed and decided to conduct one more test. He took the pin, jabbed it hard into his heel–and cried out in pain! It hurt! Thank God, it hurt!
Then he realized what had caused the numbness the night before. During the long train ride along the English coast, he had hardly gotten up once to stretch his legs. The long period of immobility had numbed the nerve leading to his heel. From then on, Dr. Brand would often speak of what he called “the blessing of pain.”
We tend to think of pain as a curse, not a blessing, and that’s understandable. Pain hurts. Pain brings pressure to bear upon our bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits. But God sometimes has a purpose in our pain that we cannot see. And He is always present in our pain even when we can’t sense Him there.
Ray C. Stedman, “The Pressure of Pain,” Let GOD Be GOD–Life-Changing Truths from the Book of Job, 37.
“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.” Psa. 119:71