The Problem of Pain

despair hope


The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite books and yet, so far in my lifetime, has been one of my most challenging and worst experiences.

Pain in this world is an undeniable and inevitable reality. We all, at one time or another, will have our share of pain be it physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. Knowing this, the question quickly becomes not ‘will I ever experience pain?’, but ‘what do I do when I experience pain?’

 Pain lends itself to an un-ideal, uncomfortable, tense experience. Pain is vulnerable. Pain hurts. Pain robs and steals. Pain destroys. Pain is unfortunate, miserable, tragic and even unjust at times. But one thing I also believe about pain is that it can and will make us stronger if it does not take us. I believe pain can become a sacred experience when the proper conditions are present.

When people come to counseling to work through their pain, the band-aids begin to rip off. That discomfort, uneasiness and hurt begins to throb. In safety though, we find comfort. In understanding, we grow more peaceful. With hope, we gain the motivation to go on. In healing, the hurt turns to strength. I myself have experienced and have watched many people turn their hurt into the propelling force that grounds and carries their confidence and worth. I have witnessed suffering become remarkable character. I have seen brokenness morph into wholeness. I have seen pain redeemed.

This is the belief we cling to. For anyone in pain, let me be the first to be honest and say sometimes the end just never feels in sight. In my experiences of past emotional pain and present chronic physical pain, disheartened falls steeply short of an accurate descriptor. Better words might be: Suffocated. Enraged. Devastated. Crippled. Anguish. Misery. Broken.

And yet, I truly believe there is hope. I have to. Without it, it’s all meaningless and nothing is worse for our hearts than to suffer for nothing. I promise you, no suffering is meaningless. Though you may not see it now, there is purpose.

This is the sacred experience that we partake in with others in pain and as sufferers ourselves. And as we allow the dust from another’s footsteps to cover us and as we walk and journey into the pain…oh, what a beautiful thing.


Learn more about Phil Zaffos, MA, LPC & Heidi Zaffos, MA, LMFT, LPC and Foundation Counseling .

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