On the final day of our mission trip to India, we had the incredible opportunity of visiting the local leprosy colony. This is my second time to visit this same colony and it was such a blessing to get to see the people again. We delivered rice, sang songs, and most importantly -- we touched them.

I don't know how much you know about leprosy, but come to find out, before my first trip three years ago, I knew very little.  You see, all my life, I imagined lepors to be very diseased individuals with these open, draining sores covering their bodies.  And I knew >> you never EVER touch them.  Unless you want to get leprosy for yourself.

In fact, leprosy doesn't always show itself in sores. And you can touch them. It's not contagious that way. Actually, it's pretty hard to contract.  And even with this knowlege, there they are, in the heart of a busy city, surrounded by millions, yet alone.  They are secluded, corralled together in these colonies, and labeled:

The most visible signs of leprosy we saw were missing fingers, toes, and sometimes even noses.

As it turns out, leprosy is a condition that eliminates pain.
So many of us wish for a pain-free life don't we?  Whether it be physical or emotional. I think we'd all like to live with a little less pain.

But what turns out happening, when you loose pain altogether, is that your warning system also leaves.
Imagine this:

You've built a fire for your dinner. You've eaten and you're feeling rested. The night air carries a chill so you stay near the fire's warmth.  All the while, unbeknownst to you, your foot is just a little too close to the flame. You don't feel the burn creeping up your toes.  You don't feel the skin as it starts to singe.  Eventually, if you're lucky, you'll start to smell the burning flesh. This might cause you to look down, pull your foot away, and save the remaining four toes.

Or you put your kids to sleep, tuck them in really tight, and you lay down next to them to provide them some warmth.  But some time in the night, as you're sleeping on the dirt floor of your rickety hut, a rat crawls in. It's not uncommon.  And as it sniffs it's way up to a finger, it takes a nibble.  Instead of feeling the fluttering sensation, you feel nothing.  No reflexes tell the hand to swat it away. Instead, the rat finds no resistance.  Come morning, your finger is reduced by half.  

This is reality. This is what happens. Infection sets in, but they don't feel the pain. They don't treat it properly because really, it doesn't bother them or hinder them from continuing the days work until it's too late and they don't have any fingers left.

Friends, have you ever wondered, as I did at the leprosy colony, if God gives us pain for a reason? That maybe pain is God's way of protecting us from a worse fate?

It's not fair that these people live with this disease. A fallen world brought with it disease and disrupted God's perfect creation, which, I believe, probably involved a bit of pain to keep us from hurting ourselves even further.

God is good in the pain. And even to those who aren't blessed enough to experience the safety of pain -- like these lepors -- He's still good to them too.

I can't tell you how it blessed my soul as I watched these cast-aways, these secluded "untouchables" as they raised their hands and voices to God in praise. God provides for them and loves them. And when they feel no love them their homeland, from the faces that walk by day after day after day, they know that their Father loves them.
Painless and all.

Maybe you're dealing with pain today. I encourage you to seek out God and ask him to help you understand. Maybe there is a purpose. Perhaps He is allowing this pain for now, to keep you from a more painful future.  God's plan is perfect and good. Trust in Him.

"I will trust you in the pain, when I can't see past today.
When it's hard to lift my hands to praise you, I will trust you."

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