I have a low pain threshold. Always have. I think it's probably the reason I never played football past middle school. Guys grew bigger, ran faster, and the pain from being hit got harder. Instead, I chose to continue in the non-contact sports of band and baseball.
Pain from football though isn't so bad considering the tradeoff being a lot of fun. However, it often comes with consequences. I have a few classmates as patients who played football in high school and college and they suffer from chronic knee and back pain.
But I think even worse than back pain are kidney stones. A few years ago I had several stones at once. They were flat, triangular, Frisbee-shaped things stacked like casino chips in the right ureter. It was late in the day when I saw my urologist. When he told me to "come back in the morning" to have them removed I thought he was kidding. When I realized he was serious I changed his mind in a hurry. Or perhaps my tears did. If you've ever had kidney stones then you know the most spiteful thing about the pain is that it's pitiless, merciless, and especially unrelenting.
And the bad thing about unrelenting pain is that it is -- well, unrelenting. Non-stop. Doesn't let up. While on the other hand, momentary pain, unlike continuous pain, is tolerable and acceptable. For example, like an intramuscular shot or having your finger pricked for a blood sugar. It's much more tolerable if you know the pain won't last long than if you know it's going to be constant. Save, perhaps, for the hysterical.
With unrelenting pain each moment lingers in our mind, or memory, with each succeeding moment of pain being that much more intensified. That's why strong men will say anything when tortured. If we could forget each preceding moment of pain then each succeeding moment of pain would be tolerable. And unlike the pain experienced by animals, what makes constant pain that much more intensified is our intellectual comprehension of it. Pain in context has meaning. Being intentionally injured by a loved one is more hurtful than if it were by a stranger.
You cannot help but think of continuous pain while suffering it. We are constantly conscious of it. It possesses the mind.
Perhaps that's why we seek diversions and distractions to lessen our pain. Like entertainment, Facebook, music, and games. We welcome distractions. This may be why it is common that our pain at nighttime is perceived as much greater than during the day because during the day we are encountering attention-getting things that distract us from our pain. The level of pain doesn't change but the perception of it does -- evening pain being greater.
There's probably no greater pain to be experienced than for the terminally ill, where constant pain is common. I've met men and women with gouty arthritis or kidney stones who would disagree. But family members, on seeing a terminally ill loved one in constant pain, often feel helpless, some unable to watch or be around. I remember well this helpless feeling as I watched my father, with advanced metastatic lung cancer and having been maxed out on various pain meds, beg for more an hour before surgery to correct a cancer-caused bone fracture. His relief coming when he was anesthetized for surgery.
It would be an understatement to say people in pain have a cross to bear. Only a person who is indifferent, inattentive, or lacking a conscience would fail to have pity on another in such severe pain.
So it's in this context of man experiencing continuous pain that one might wonder why many Believers are not horrified at the degree of pain experienced by the crucified Christ, who understood more than anyone, the context of his suffering.
Such pain the anticipation of which caused him to ooze blood from his pores. Such pain that by his divinity he willed himself to feel each and every moment of pain. With no distractions to avail himself, there was unrelenting pain to the point that the weight of his hung body might cause muscles and tendons to rip. With his back, scraping against raw wood, chaffing and bleeding. Lungs feeling as if they would explode, constantly short of breath. Steady pain pounding and throbbing in his head, hands, and feet. All the while refusing to take the pain relievers of vinegar and myrrh to ensure that he would experience every moment of pain.
No one claims to know the pain threshold of Christ. It doesn't matter. What does matter is that he endured it all -- to the end. For you, for me, for everyone who's ever lived and will live.
This Holy Week many will rush by Good Friday with only fleeting thoughts about what the day means. Let us, as Believers, on this Good Friday, be grateful that he did endure and that he did die, but that in the end -- that he rose -- for each and every one of us.
Now that, dear reader, is real love.
Have a Happy Easter!