I sliced my thumb open yesterday. Okay, maybe “sliced” is a little too dramatic. But I did cut my thumb, and it did bleed. True, it didn’t gush blood—more like oozed blood—but blood was escaping my body. It was a small cut; perhaps a ¼-inch long.
I pressed a tissue on it until it stopped bleeding. I washed my thumb thoroughly with antibacterial soap and water. I applied some Neosporin ointment. And I wrapped the injury in a fresh Band-aid.
All of this care and concern for a small cut on my thumb.
Do you realize how much one uses their thumb in the course of a day?
- Trying to rinse dishes in the sink I couldn’t hold the plate or the dish scrubber without my thumb being involved
- My thumb was involved when I turned the doorknob of the front door
- When I was opening a package of fruit snacks for my son, my thumb was needed for either the holding or the ripping
- Ditto when I attempted to open the lid of the 2-liter bottle
That small cut on the thumb on my non-dominant hand was affecting my entire day. One little cut and my entire body was adversely affected!
A friend called me the other day. His heart was ripped open. Okay, maybe “ripped” is a little too dramatic. But he was emotionally damaged. True, he didn’t need a trip to the emergency room and he probably won’t have to start taking anti-depressants, but emotional “blood” was escaping his heart.
He called me, and I responded. One little wound in my friend’s heart and I was affected! Do you realize how much one’s emotions are involved in the course of a day?
Dr. Paul Brand was a renowned hand surgeon and missionary who worked with leprosy patients in India for years. He learned that leprosy doesn’t mangle a person’s foot or hand, but their lack of ability to feel pain does. They don’t feel the cut on their pinky toe or left thumb, and so they never attend to it. The injury becomes infected, and still no pain registers to tell them to take care of it. Eventually serious, irreversible damage is done.
Listen to what Dr. Brand wrote in his book In His Image—
“A body only possesses unity to the degree that it possess pain…. We must develop a lower threshold of pain by listening, truly listening, to those who suffer. The word compassion itself comes from Latin words cum and pati; together meaning ‘to suffer with.’ … The body protects poorly what it does not feel.”
“Management of pain requires a delicate balance between proper sensitivity, to determine its cause and mobilize a response, and enough inner strength to keep the pain from dominating the whole person. For the Body of Christ, the balance is every bit as delicate and as imperative.”
We must develop a lower threshold of pain by listening, truly listening. … The body protects poorly what it does not feel. Are you listening, truly listening to those who are hurting around you today? You are connected to them. If one person hurts, we all hurt.
Truly listen. If they are hurting, it does affect you … and me. Let’s find them, bandage them, apply ointment to their wounds, and protect them from further injury. Let’s feel their pain so we can protect them from further pain.