The Problem of Pleasure

moments of co

the problem of pleasure

 For I will bring them into the land I swore to give their ancestors—a land flowing with milk and honey. There they will become prosperous, eat all the food they want, and become fat. But they will begin to worship other gods; they will despise me and break my covenant. (Deuteronomy 31:20)

Read: Deuteronomy 31:1 – 32:27, Luke 12:8-34, Psalm 78:32-55, Proverbs 12:21-23

Relate: Ashlyn has a very unique problem. This little girl was born with a very rare condition called Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis. Because of this, she will never be able to feel pain. Right now, part of me would love to be able to feel a little less pain. A couple days back, I was walking around outside all day without a hat. Because I have no hair to act as a sunscreen, my dome is now as red as a lobster. I can’t tell you the headache this causes. I can’t begin to describe how hard it is to fall asleep at night. Many of you reading have had a sunburn or two in your day. You know how it feels on your back and can empathize with what it must be like when head hits pillow. Ashlyn can’t. She will never have an idea what a sunburn normally feels like even if her skin is baked a candy apple red.

She will never know what it feels like to stub her toe. She will never understand the pain of missing the nail and hitting her thumb with a hammer. Cuts and scratches will never be a nuisance. A sprained ankle… she can walk it off with ease. But if she puts her hand on a hot stove, she will never know to quickly pull it back. The pain of warning does not exist for her. As a result, the odds of her living even to the age of twenty-five are the next thing to impossible.

In the movie the Matrix, the nemesis Agent Smith says to Neo, “Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster.” We humans don’t do well with perfection. We become lazy. We become apathetic. We become uncaring. We lose our ability to be alert and diligent. Damage, then decay, and ultimately death are inevitable. We need pain to wake us up.

React: Am I saying all pain and suffering is good? No. But it is a tool. Like all tools, it can be good or bad. The same thing with pleasure. When we are blessed, we can use that blessing to be generous to others. When God has abundantly provided for us, we can be a conduit through which He can then bless others. Or we can stagnate. The truth of the matter is that it is much harder to follow hard after God in times of plenty than in times of lack. Jesus said it was practically impossible. The only way we can do it is to not take it for granted. The only way to prevent pleasure from being a problem is to recognize how fleeting it is and to cherish both it and the One who has provided it for us.

Respond: 

God, help me to always recognize that both rain and sunshine come from You. What I often experience as good and bad only happen because You allow it and through it You have a purpose. Help me to follow hard after You both on the mountaintops and in the valleys. In everything, through every stage of life, help me to ever draw nearer to You. Please do not let pleasure become a problem in my walk.

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7 thoughts on “The Problem of Pleasure

  1. I believe that God can use comfort as a reward for hard work and obedience to Him, and discomfort and pain as a glimpse into what He suffered for us. I will pray that Ashlyn will learn to respect the “painlessness” that she was given, and use it as a testimonial to others on how God blesses us in wonderfully different ways.

  2. Ashlyn possesses an enviable and an uneviable condition. It depends on the environment in which she finds herself. In this world, as you noted, she lacks the warning system to prevent lasting physical harm. Yet, in relation to Heaven she experiences a joyful taste of the promise made to all who follow Christ; that our pain and suffering will be no more.
    -Alan

  3. I have often thought about this. I’ve just recently endured a hard seven-year stretch and I think that relief is ahead. I’ve been praying earnestly not to lose the relationship with God that I’ve gained if things get easier. I’d much rather keep struggling through life than to be comfortable and grow complacent in my faith.

  4. Interesting post. Pain whether mental or physical, makes us appreciate the good in life. The last 12 years have been difficult for me. I can’t say that I have embraced the pain, but I do seek to find what I can learn from these winter seasons.

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