“Can you describe the pain?”  asked the newest addition to my growing list of doctors.  I proceeded to tell her about my arm – the weakness, tenderness and constant ache from the elbow down.  “Classic tennis elbow, brought on by repetitive motion,” was her conclusion.

I was wracking my brain to come up with a movement I have been repeating recently.  What could possibly be causing such a weird irritation in my arm muscles?  I play the piano, but believe me when I say…I have not been putting in any extra practice time.  Perhaps working on my computer?  I have been doing a lot of writing lately.

As I mulled this over, it dawned on me what the root of my pain was.  Nothing as glamorous as piano or writing.  I can hardly bring myself to make the needed confession.  Okay.  Here goes:  My arm is somewhat out of commission because of… (drum roll, please)… Angry Birds.  There.  I said it.  I am addicted to an app on my i-phone.  Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio – the whole “sha bang.”

You might be wondering how I can possibly make a spiritual application from Angry Birds.  Oh, I’ve got one!

Pain can be one of the best motivators for change.  It can gently or dramatically force us to deal with out-of-whack areas of our lives.  Pain forces action.

Several years ago, I had an intense pain on the right side of my lower abdomen.  It would not let up!  Finally, I made a doctor appointment to have it checked out.  The pain drove me to action, which in turn began a series of medical tests and surgeries.  Cancer was found in two places in my body.  As you know, with cancer any loss of time in the diagnosis accommodates the spread of the disease.  The original soreness, though not cancerous, possibly saved my life.

I have a few friends who are currently suffering great emotional distress due to choices their young adult children are making.  Their raw pain has moved them to seek God in deeper ways.  When I have been with each of them lately, there inevitably comes that awkward moment of me offering them food, followed by their shy announcement that they are fasting.  These women have gone extreme, crying out to God to change their children’s lives.  Their pain has driven them to a new intimacy with Christ.

So… Pain.  Friend or foe?  Motivator or inhibitor?  Action or denial?  Stepping stone or stumbling block?

God will use everything in our lives to grow us.  Ephesians 1:11 states, “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.”  He is able to grab our attention when life hurts.  Will we allow Him to work in our lives… to work out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will?

And… just for the record, to let you know that my tennis elbow or ABS (Angry Birds syndrome) was not in vain… I had passed all levels, earning three stars on each!  Impressive, I know!!!