Sorely Not!

Written by Anthony Douglas on 29 March 2019.

PainlessJo Cameron, a 71-year-old woman who lives near Loch Ness, has never been able to tell her kids, ‘This hurts me more than it will hurt you.’ That’s because she is completely unable to feel pain, at all. She has a genetic mutation that elevates a particular chemical in her body, and all her pain pathways are in a permanent state of bliss. There are some downsides - she regularly irons herself by accident, and her family reckon that her constant happiness can get wearing. But it does seem like she’s had the better of this quirk.

Until you look deeper. When Jo was a child, she broke her arm, and nobody noticed for three days. Her mutation makes her a rapid healer, but what if she injured herself in a way that needed immediate attention? Would she even notice a heart attack coming on?

We live in a world that deals out pain, and sadly, we need to know it. Otherwise, we are left defenceless... and not just in a physical sense. CS Lewis argued that our sense of pain fulfils the vital role of telling us something is wrong with the world, and denying us any false contentment. “Pain is unmasked, unmistakable evil,” he wrote, “It is [God’s] megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

People often use the existence of suffering as an argument against there being any gods. A kind and all-powerful being wouldn’t let us suffer, they claim. No doubt an all-powerful being can think for himself or herself, but they don’t need to point out the obvious. We actually believe in pain, once we call it justice and have it applied to those who have done wrong. What we really want is to see pain applied only as justice - and that, of course, is exactly what the gospel tells us God has intervened to achieve.

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