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Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey

I never thought of pain as a gift, at least not until I read the book Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants also entitled (in more recent editions) The Gift of Pain but Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey.

Published in 1993, this book is part memoir, part essay, and part self-help. It is the story of Dr. Brand a leading expert on leprosy and former medical missionary to India. Although Dr. Brand’s religion is the reaon he does what he does, he is not proselytizing and God is mentioned only in the context of personal belief.

The first third of the book tells the reader about Dr. Brands journey from a young boy in the wild Kolli Mallai mountain range in India to his youth and college study in England before and during the Second World War.

Especially moving was the story of Dr. Brand’s work in a hospital in London during the German Blitz and his fears for his young wife and newborn child. He even observed the near destruction of St. Paul’s Cathedral from atop his hospital.

But that is not the essence of the book. No, this book is about pain. But the approach to pain is radically different from all others that I have seen or read. Dr. Brand uses his knowledge of leprosy (a disease that causes a person to go numb and lose all sensitivity to pain) to point out the NEED for pain. This book is not about avoiding or even minimizing pain. It is about embracing pain, becoming its master and knowing that 3/4 of all pain is in the mind.

It reads well and can, despite its daunting size, be easily read in a week. But you will find that as you read it, you won’t want to put it down. I read it just last week and on two successive nights I stayed up till two in the morning because I just could not put it down.

The stories related in it defy any description. Any attempt I made at relaying them to you would only butcher them. The memories that pour forth from the brain of Dr. Brand make you laugh and cry with joy in the wonder of creation and the beautiful construction he made in giving us pain. I, stoic that I believe myself to be, found that I couldn’t help but cry. Whether it was because of Dr. Brand’s success at trying a new surgery or his story of a man who was able to return to his family after being cast out for his leprosy, I couldn’t help but cry tears of joy.

Leprosy is a terrible disease, but more terrible than that is what happens when lepers stop feeling pain. Rats eat fingers off while they are sleeping; hands burn against oil lamps without your noticing, leading to third degree burns; and bones break just because you are tightening a loose bolt on a car engine. I fear painlesness now, not pain. Pain lets me know I am alive, and that I am wonderfully well-protected through a natural mechanism created by the One above.

I am not able to do justice to the effect this book has had on me and my perception of pain. I see pain as something I must master, and not something that can master me. I will not be a victim of my pain or suffering because God made it to work for me, not against me.

See the following link to read some reviews on Amazon. Plese read it, it will make you think twice about whether you would really like to live a life without pain or suffering.

The Gift of Pain

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