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The Gift of Pain

Berenice Cheng

Presenter

Berenice Cheng

Dentist based in Melbourne, Australia

Recorded

  • December 7, 2019
    11:00 AM
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For the many gifts that you have given us we have a grateful and we pray that as we reflect on your goodness and your love you would be with us now Jesus name we pray. My time is very short so I just wanted to share some of the experiences that I have had in practice over the last year or so and. It will be more of a testimony and devotional Thord today. Tony was a 4 year old patient with Doc flashing bright eyes and an impish smile and her mom brought her into the national leprosy hospital in Louisiana where she sat in the examination room and there was a cloud of tension in the air that day telling seemed easy but unafraid her mother on the other hand was a nervous bowl of. Just anxiety and fear as to it was to happen next a doctor came into the room and he began to remove blood soiled bandages from Tan his poor old feet and tell just looked on impassively testing her swollen left ankle the doctor rotated it freely noting that it was fully dislocated and he winced at the unnatural movement that tenure did not she did not flinch a whimper as a dressings were removed many of them sticking and tearing at her skin. She looked around the room with an expression of feigned boredom and also rated sores existed on both soles of her feet and the doctor probed gently looking at her eyes some kind of reaction as the probe went deeper and deeper into necrotic tissue and touched the white bone and in the. Seitel was not even 18 years old when her mother had realized that something was very wrong she was in the other room cooking one day when she heard some gleeful laughter where tenure was playing in the neighboring room and so she went in to see what delight her child had found. She walked in to find his sitting on the floor of the playpen fingerpainting red swirls on the white floor of the play print and she realized that she had bitten off the tip of a finger and was using her own blood to make these designs the toddler tenuous laugh laughing and so belief for the response that she drew from her mother and over the next few years she would she would just laugh when she was spanked or chastise not to bite fingers. And slowly wounds began to appear mysteriously on one finger after another as soon as she could walk she would accidently step on a nail or a thumb tack with something like that and not bother to pull it out and so at night her mother would check her feet and discover a new sore an open wound every day and she would twist an ankle she wouldn't limp or try to shift her weight to the other side and so then that placed this pressure on her joints that led to it being twisted again and again she would rip off the uncomfortable bandages a plaster cast that were placed on her limbs because they were comfortable and itchy. And today as she sat in this room this doctor's office. The mother had a mixture of dread in her eyes in an ironic sense of hope that finally a diagnosis would be to live it she asked the Dr I've heard that your leprosy patients have foot problems like the. Does my daughter have leprosy. Tanya actually suffered from a rare congenital defect known as congenital indifference to pain I'm not a pediatrician nor any neurologist so I am not familiar with this area of medicine but she was perfectly perfectly healthy in every respect but one and that was that she did not feel pain. Nose in her hands and feet transmitted Purpura cept it and so me Reg them a regular to messages but she wasn't able to feel anything more than a tingling sensation when she was to bed her hand or something like that and she rather enjoyed these tingling sensation and she liked the response that she would get the dramatic response that she would get from those around her. Fast forward 7 years and 10 you know 11 years old was living in an institution. She had lost both legs to and after refusing to wear proper shoes or protect her sprained ankles by shifting her weight and that had placed intolerable pressure on her joints most of her fingers had been lost and her elbows were constantly dislocated. Rated hands and entertain stumps were chronically septic and her tongue was less rated because she had this nerve this habit of always chewing it. She at 11 years old was a metaphor of a life without pain. The doctor that she had seen was supposed to brand are now surgeons who had devoted his life to leprosy patients both in India where he was born to medical missionary parents and also in the United States he would later go in to receive the Surgeon General's medallion the highest honor the surgeon general of the United States can bestow on a civilian. As a Christian he often sought the deeper meaning in life in his work and also the spiritual applications of the ailments that he would encounter on an everyday basis do this to the specificity of his work he was dealing mainly with a subsector of patients who had the unfortunate experience of not being able to feel pain and therefore her consequences that they suffered. As a dentist who deals with pain on a daily basis is a very peculiar concept to me and if there is one constant that I can tell you I will face in my work day every day that is pain. It brings people to us and unfortunately in my case it sends people away because they avoid me in fear of the pain that they think I might inflict. I try to be as friendly and as Finally as I can when someone new comes into the office but inevitably more then I am not greeted by this people come in and they say to me Hi I'm not met you before my name and such and such and no offense but I don't like. It's often an anticipation of pain that keeps them away until that point when with dread they cannot keep away anymore and they present to our offices sheepishly with the very pain that they hoped to avoid in the 1st place sometimes after days and often nights the sleeplessness and ineffective and ask me Can you just take away my feeling is do something about those nerves. He pain is designed to convey some sort of damage body and if we were to go to a concert and clap our hands we all know going back to those physiology lectures in 1st year that the contact of our hands would cause those pitching Ian Cole possible is really that funny turn pitching in corpuscles to compress and tell us that there is some sort of pressure occurring but if we were to do this for another 10 minutes we start to feel discomfort even though the contact of our club so no heavier than they were when we 1st started and that's because our hands and now red and swollen indicating tissue damage and the nerves that pussy set are able to tell us that there is danger in addition to that pressure. I recently oh about a year ago I returned from living overseas for some time and when I came back to a straight I found myself spiritually restless and looking for ways to grow both professionally personally and spiritually as well when I came back one of my patients from work a very upstanding very socially conscious lady told me that she had started an initiative working with women in the judiciary system these were women that had been charged with crimes but with the support of notable women in the society she paired them up with people that would mentor them and the hope was that this mentorship would help them navigate situations of domestic violence addiction chronic illness and other issues that had caused them to commit these crimes in the 1st place and combined with community service ultimately keep them out of jail. She asked if I would be willing to volunteer some of my services pro bono for some of her neediest clients and I agreed. I wasn't sure to be honest that they would turn out because my experiences with pro bono patients in the past has been unreliable at best sometimes they turn up sometimes they turn up 40 minutes late sometimes they turn up a few days later. And they usually have unrealistic expectations of what could be completed but I thought and as I prayed I had this sense that this was something that I should do and this was a way in which God would have me in my will with him so I was somewhat surprised when my 1st pro bono client. And his lady called them turned up and let's call her Kelly Kelly walked in and she was emaciated she had tangled hair she looked like she hadn't slept in 5 days and she looked me up and down and I look smaller than most of the stuff in nurses in my clinic and she say you ain't looking at my you can look at my teeth but you ain't touching them. I gave her silence high in my head and I said this is going to be a long day. And surprisingly she had many broken teeth she had severe gum disease she had numerous absences and eventually she didn't say much that 1st time I met her but eventually she let us make a plan to put to put together feelings and so forth for her over the next few weeks. However she refused to have any teeth extracted even if they were so broken down that you couldn't even see them below the gums anymore or if there was past coming out from where they had been broken for years she would come in every few weeks and I would gently request after a nice filling had been done if maybe one day she would let me tackle that one at the very back that had passed using from it. And her response was always I salute. One time she walked in about 15 minutes late for that for the hour appointment that we had set aside for her and she looked actually exhausted and worn out more so than she did Normally when she slumped into my dental chair and my nurses were not in the room it was still getting stuff ready and so I asked her you look really exhausted today Kelly is everything Ok she burst into tears and explained that her mom had just passed away the day before. I took her hand and I just let her cry in for the next 20 minutes mostly in silence because my nurses realized something dentistry was not happening to me and so they they left us in privacy and I prayed for the right words to speak. Eventually to you she told me a little snippets and I realized that throughout all her disappointments in life Kelly's mom had been the one person who had never given up hope she was so delighted that Kelly had been given a way out a 2nd chance at life through this mentorship program and she told me how that day that we had fixed her front teeth and given her a new smile the 1st lesson she had gone to show was her mom and her mom had not as wide as she had. Kelly had thought to bail on today's appointment actually after the tragedy of the previous day but she knew that her mother had wanted to get her life back on track. I had never experienced tragedy like that in my life and I wasn't really sure what to say but as I said a silent prayer God brought to my mind a quote that I had read by the invention this Best more a few days before and it was that and I shared it with her I said Kelly you know I read something the other day so one very wise said that as a mother you are only as happy as your saddest child. And the love of a mother is something really special isn't it. She nodded at me and she was you know she couldn't say very much but she did say I don't know how she still loved me even after everything I did and said well I am not a mother yet but I have only known one other person that loves in the same way that your mother did my face tells me and I was paraphrasing Romans 58 and in the interest of time we want her and there today but you guys know the verse well and I told him my face tells me that despite everything we did there was someone that was willing not only to love us but to die for us. I'm not sure if your mother was a woman of faith but I have a suspicion every mother is given just a little foretaste of the love she left that day and I wasn't sure if I would ever see her again she didn't say much and knowing the trend of how these prono. Services usually go I didn't think that I would ever see her. But I was left an easy when I went home that night because I felt very inadequate in my upbringing as an Adventist. In a fairly conservative family was very simple but it was sed i had never had to encounter some of life's harsh realities the fore and Kelly and my life to me seemed like a study in contrasts I didn't think that I had enough life experience to be able to credibly speak into her life nor patient like her if I would ever encounter them again over the next few months however I started to really read the story of Calvary and threw in the 4 Gospels and what Ellen white chairs with us and mages I saw. 3 instances in which agony and anguish the same emotions I had seen etched on Kelly's face were described in Jesus's experience in the car. Of course there was his figure the physical agony is across his thrust into place and it caused a most intense Ellen which causes agony to the Son of God but there was also the more mental agony of being mocked and having been jested in and some 6920 had prophesied the reproach that you should sell that broke his heart the loss of relationships and the disappointment that he had felt the betrayal that he had felt when he had looked to his disciples for support and found. The hopelessness that he had felt on the cross looking down at his mother suffering and not being able to do anything to relieve the pain. And then there was a spiritual anguish the withdrawal of divine countenance from the Savior in this hour of supreme anguish pierced his heart this sorrow that can never be fully understood by men. And as I've contemplated on these things I realized that the sole reason for Jesus is anguish his agony his pain was none other than sin. It was something that was not designed to be something that was wrong. I began to reflect on my own life to date and I realized that in the past 2 years before I had met Kelly this night my simple blessed upbringing they had been 2 of the probably the hardest he is that I hadn't been. I experience the pain of where place pulling strained broken relationships disappointment disillusionment betrayal personal attacks and I saw my loved ones suffer I experienced a lot of a lot of love and grace and mercy but I also realized that as the saying goes hurt people hurt people and I sometimes wondered if this never ending cycle of hurt whatever and. And so I defaulted to a position of self protection and I told myself I don't really want to think about it I won't deal with it later and it is what it is my faith started to evolve in different ways and and I struggled for a long time the frustrating irony was that just as I thought I had reached a happy equilibrium something else would just make those old wounds fresh and new again and I often wondered why but when I encountered Kelly and as I contemplated on the story of Calvary I realized that painting is one of God's greatest gifts to us. Because the pain reminded me of how this was from God's ideal for my life. And my need of a savior it kept me from detaching altogether or thinking that my new normal was Ok it told me that I needed healing. About 5 months after Kelly's mom had passed away I received 5 or I was told by the secretary that someone had called from the institution that mentoring institution 5 times in one day. Only wanted to speak to me because someone had eaten a chip you know this week by the chip and broken their front teeth to this and they comes with bleeding everywhere what should they do. I had no idea you know on the details of the case I was only hearing this piecemeal in between patients and I said Well I think that person just needs to come to the dentist and work it out from there and so I was expecting perhaps another case to walk in and I wondered what God had in store for me a surprise the next day at 830 when in between my schedule patients Kelly walks in the door. And I had to had not broken or chipped it was just that it was very mobile due to severe gum disease and so it had actually just completely dislocated from its no position in the bone and needed to be extracted. She was so distressed at the prospect of having to lose another front tooth that it took 20 minutes to console her and when I asked her to eventually open her mouth to have the extraction completed she let out away all that was so loud that through 3 doors my front office staff later asked me if I had remembered to give her anesthetic. The procedure was uneventful but she was absolutely console. It was a very perplexing situation for my staff who couldn't understand why she was so distressed at losing another tooth when she was already missing about 8 other front teeth anyway and most of her other back teeth were broken and abscessed. I understood though that her anguish stemmed from n.t. sense of. Another reminder of the physical pain that she would experience when some of the teeth were knocked out in domestic violence. The mental reiteration of the misconception that she was undesirable thing unlovable and ugly as every other field relationship. The author despondency at the seeming inevitably of failure in every single aspect of her life that had driven her to relapse into drugs and alcohol time and time. And one by one again my young staff started to leave the room. And. They started to because I didn't really know what to say I did something that I have never done before in my professional life and I gave her a big hug and hold her. And she cried. When things had calmed down we we shared a few thoughts and I shared some of my own experiences from the past year and I also asked Woodward said I never thought I would and was praying and I believe that God wants to share this and Kelly I cannot imagine the kind of pain that you have been through. But hold on to it. If you have a few pain in one of your teeth they can come and find me because that pain is a signal that something is wrong and I can help you keep what teeth we can. But if you feel pain in some of the other aspects of your life ignore it forget it or push it away either. Remember where your mother's love came from. After I had met Kelly the 1st time and after I read the story of Calvary I had resolved that I would never be in that situation again where I would have nothing to say and so I had put one singular glow tracked in my loops case and that was the one entire tone Where is God when I am. In her post operative packed up day I slipped it into a case and I said Kelly I put something in there for you something special. We have finished Kelly's Kay I don't know when I will see her and I don't have a happy ending for you I cannot tell you that she is now in church I cannot tell you that she is now. In remission I cannot tell you any of these things. But what I do realize is this at 28 years old I do not have a monopoly on pain. We all carry pain in our lives whether it be physical degeneration of your health or that of a loved one. You have lost someone to disease and illness. All your hopes and dreams of a life together dashed because of the consequences of sin on a physical body whether it be mental strained or broken relationships with your loved ones with your family with your spouse disappointment and other discouragement at your church lead disillusionment you feel. Whether it be spiritual since I have separated you so far from God that you are unsure of yourself ation. Dr Paul brand. As a conclusion of his life's work concluded this pain is one of God's greatest gifts to us because it is an indicator that lets us know something is wrong pain has a value that becomes clearer sed in its absence God never intended or designed for us to experience pain but he has gifted it to us and believe it or believe or or otherwise we all connect as human beings on the universal level of pain it allowed me to share a little snippet of my faith with someone that I never expected I would be able to connect here. In probably one of the most secular suburbs in Melbourne in a in a clinic where most of my colleagues are l.g.b. t.q. I. Plus. It allowed me to tell her of his savior who in Hebrews 415 it tells us can sympathize with our weaknesses understand pain and bring healing. It also allowed me to empathize with the workplace bully that was causing me so much grief and anger and when she left I took it upon myself to organize a farewell and a parting gift for her my colleagues were perplexed and they said why would you do this you should not have to do this because someone has treated you so badly and because of my own experiences and what I have learned from Kelly I was able to say. You know that person at her core in just a woman in pain crying out for help. May pain whether we like it or not be a reminder of the sin that separates us from Guy but only temporarily. May it be a reminder of the promise that this is not the life that we were designed for and how by c n n in home this media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse or if you would like to listen to more service leaders visit w.w.w. audio Verse dot org.

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