It is difficult to think of any topic or issue more universal and prevalent, in media and everyday life, than pain. The word pain (according to Encarta World English Dictionary, 1999) carries the following meanings:
unpleasant physical discomfort as a result of injury, illness, etc.
feeling of discomfort in some particular part of the body,
emotional (or mental) distress,
somebody or something that is extremely annoying.
This Encyclopedia focuses mostly on (3) emotional or mental pain. Its three topics: pain, hurt and trauma overlap (See each of these topics in the Encyclopedia). Pain is the broadest of the terms, hurt refers more to a particular injury (especially the ways young people and all of us hurt each other), and trauma deals with the deepest and long-lasting emotional or mental injuries, made more severe when repeated over time.
About pain in general we ask: What (kind of pain)? Why (not only its immediate causes but why there is so much pain in the world)? and How (how can we avoid or deal with the world’s and our particular pain)? Famous writer, C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain exemplifies attempts to get at some answers to these nagging questions.
These topics especially should act almost like a blog; readers around the world should provide stories, short essays, ways to discuss with young people, methods of interventions, and case studies. We will try to provide you with research and resources.
I once read a book called something like The Gift of Pain, an historical novel about St. Francis helping lepers deal with their pain. Famous NFL football coach, Tony Dungy, grieving the tragic death of his oldest son, told a group about another son of theirs born unable to feel pain. The boy once put his hand in the oven to grab some cookies seriously burning his hand and mouth. It was Tony’s way of realizing the importance of pain. The story helps us begin our study of pain.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
1. What brings you to this consideration of pain?
2. How many different kinds of pain, in your life and the world today, can you quickly list?
3. Is pain both a curse and a blessing in our lives and world? How would you explain your answer?
4. If there is no God, what is the meaning of pain? If there is God who is good, how could pain have been allowed?
5. What questions, and what comments and opinions, can you contribute to this discussion?
1. This is a pain-ridden world; we must address the issue and understand what we can about this problem.
2. Youth often find pain in new and distressing ways. Too often they are left alone in their pain and with its and their issues not being addressed. Then, they are left to devise their own methods of dealing with the pain which sometimes includes drugs, hostility and even suicide.
3. Faith-based leaders need a theology of pain. Jewish and Christian Scriptures deal with pain extensively-from many different perspectives. The Psalms, for instance, are pain-filled.