Radio Reflection – 19th November 2015

The Guinea Worm
“Do not be anxious about anything,” the author of Philippians writes, “but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God….”


Even the desperate pain of broken hearts, disease and emotional distress?

As the now famous leprologist, Paul Brand, attempted to make life more humanly bearable for people affected by leprosy, he struggled with the puzzle of pain. It seemed to conflict with Scripture.

But he came to realize that pain is a gift, not a curse. Pain, perhaps ironically, reflects the very wisdom of the creator.

As a medical doctor and surgeon, Dr. Brand saw a lot of pain. As a young boy he swore never to be a Doctor but to run from pain and live in comfort. But his life experience and God’s hand upon his life changed everything.

In his study of the human body, he got a glimpse of the Creator’s wisdom. His writing records his reflections: consider the incredible sensitivity that God has created in the trachea. Hypersensitive, the trachea’s natural reaction to dust and smoke in the environment is a hacking cough. That hacking cough spews the irritants out, keeping the body safe.

The eye is a great miracle. Sensitive and quick to respond, the eye reacts to danger in a split second. When a foreign object flies into the eye, the blink reflex pushes it out and an immediate release of tears washes the sensitive organ. This happens time and time again throughout the day. We don’t even think about it.

When the tips of our fingers touch a hot object, the body responds without thinking. The pain causes us to jerk away, preventing serious injury.

But what if our body did not respond to pain?

Too often, in my work with people affected by leprosy, I’ve seen the answer to that question. Leprosy destroys the nerve endings, numbing the affected parts of the body. There is no pain. I have seen the devastation of a woman who clutched a burning pot out of the fire with her bare hands. Her skin melted – but she didn’t even blink. She continued to carry the pot long after your reflex or mine would have responded to the danger. Leprosy had anesthetized her fingers and hands. The damage to her healthy skin was extensive – but without pain, she was oblivious to the danger. The result was catastrophic.

Pain is a beautiful gift from God. Pain is God’s gift to us to prevent serious injury.

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More Reflections for Leprosy Awareness week 2015:

Monday 16th: Guineaworm…

His father tugged at a tiny protrusion on the boy’s skin. Leaning forward, Paul looked closely and saw that the dark brown thing was the head of a worm. His dad was pulling a worm out of the boy’s skin…

Read more

Tuesday 17th: Giant…

Paul Brand was prepared to walk against the tide to ensure that men, women and children who suffered from the world’s oldest known communicable disease could live with hope and dignity…

Read more

Wednesday 18th: Unwanted…

Mother Teresa, an icon of Christian compassion, once said: “we have drugs for people with diseases like leprosy. But these drugs do not treat the main problem, the disease of being unwanted…”

Read more

Radio Cover Photo: By Gregory F. Maxwell PGP:0xB0413BFA [GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons;
Children: By Rafael Robles [CC-BY-2.0];
Mother Teresa: By Manfredo Ferrari (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons;
Drawing pins: By Coldbolt (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons