The Miracle of Pain
Fr Kevin Reynolds – A close friend of mine has mentioned in our chats from time to time how much he desired a miracle that would make him more vividly aware of God.
At our most recent meeting I told him that I had been privileged to experience exactly what he so earnestly wished.
It started a week before Christmas when out of the blue I awoke to find a belt of Shingles on the right side of my body around my waist. I immediately obtained the necessary anti-viral medication to combat this disease.
Of course, I consulted Dr Google on the internet to find out as much as I could about Shingles. I was fascinated to learn that it is the same virus as chickenpox, that, in fact, anyone having had that disease – usually in childhood – would retain the virus in his system for the rest of his life. It could then burst forth at any stage as Shingles.
I also learnt that those whose immune system might be low were more likely to suffer Shingles than the general population.
I was amazed to discover, too, how common this malady is. The number of people who told me that they had had Shingles at some time in their lives was surprising.
My “research” somewhat altered the customary view that Shingles is the result of one being under severe stress.
My Shingles pain took off at the speed of knots. Being around my waist it was also very uncomfortable. In driving my car, for instance, I discovered how uneven our roads actually were because every little bump I drove over caused my Shingles to be chafed by my clothing, especially my belt. This contributed greatly to my pain.
I experienced the greatest degree of pain at night when I tried to sleep. I found some relief by lying on my back as still as I could while focusing my mind on God alone, very much as we are recommended to do in centering prayer. By emptying my mind as much as I could of all other thoughts but that of being with Christ I found a unique peace by superimposing my pain on that of Christ while pleading for the gift of His divine healing.
A Unique Awareness of God
Therein I experienced a unique awareness of God. Upon reflection this made me more sensitively open to the immeasurable healing of Christ’s suffering. Of course, I quickly became aware of Christ’s wanting to heal not only my physical pain but all areas in my life that needed His restoring me to be the full person He had made me to be.
While experiencing this miracle of God’s presence in me, I continued to take my medication to ultimately free my body of the Shingles virus. I certainly did not wallow in my pain, as if, that was the only way I could experience God’s healing me.
Actually after suffering great pain and discomfort for more than four weeks a doctor/friend recommended a particular pain killer to me which had immediate good effects.
Now that I am back to normal without the debilitating pain I suffered for days on end, I feel somewhat of a different person. Certainly the prayers many friends offered for my healing were heard in God’s time and contributed to my healing, along with the Sacrament of the Sick a caring brother-priest gave me at the outset of my painful time. I am naturally grateful for their prayers and his ministration.
Naturally I do not wish my close friend to be afflicted with Shingles so he might have a similar miracle of being aware of God’s presence in him as I experienced through my pain. I hope, though, that he might still have his desire for a miracle in his life fulfilled. This might occur in an equally surprising area of his life as I had through my personal pain.
In entering the season of Lent this year I shall naturally reflect more deeply on Christ’s suffering in terms of my recent Shingles event. I shall pray, too, that all those who suffer daily might find some relief by also identifying their pain with that of Christ.