A moderately painful dental problem last week led me to an even more painful realization.

For much of my adult life, my teeth have been seeking revenge against me for all the candy and other sugar-loaded goodies I had them chew up when I was growing up.

The most recent case of payback involved an unexplained pain on the upper right side of my mouth. At its worst, it was probably a 6 or 7 on a pain scale of 10. However, it wasn't like it was a constant pain. It would erupt for a half-hour or maybe even a few hours, and then quiet down to give me a false sense of security.

The worst of it came at the worst possible time for a chewing problem - Thanksgiving. My wife, JoAnn, was very understanding, but I was not in a holiday mood. I would give her short, borderline rude answers even while she was showing me compassion. I was not a lively host at the delicious Thanksgiving dinner Jo Ann prepared.

Then a shaming thought came to me. One of my best friends has had severe back pain for nearly 30 years. There has not been one moment in that period when he was pain-free. The pain he suffers all the time is worse than the worst of the pain I had for a few hours over a few days.

Another guy is in the midst of fighting a life-threatening illness. Pain makes it hard for him to even eat, yet he does not complain about his pain or his very serious medical problem.

Of course, the ultimate example of acceptance of suffering without complaint was given by Jesus on the Good Friday with the torments he suffered on the way to the most painful type of death via crucifixion.

No one goes through this life without suffering pain - physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual. However, if can unite our suffering with that of our Savior's, it will result in a love and compassion that will lead us to our next life where joy will forever replace pain.

It was a painful lesson to learn, but it will be an even more painful lesson to forget.


The balm of God's love

eases even the worst pain.