Pain and pleasure in the context of progress to higher life

proverbs 21.17
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Proverbs 21:17 ESV “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich”

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 ESV “I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.”

It is interesting to note that Solomon one of the wisest kings of history who wrote both the above passages was found to say something and practice completely contrary to what he says. Often times we find ourselves in the same situation. Solomon is well aware that pleasure in excess is not good but at the same time avoiding pain always is neither good. Nevertheless, the main goal of life or at least the driving force for all actions of mankind is to strike the right balance between pain and pleasure.

So what is pleasure? It can be defined as gratification of senses. We want to give all our senses (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, touch/skin) a full blown reception of intense feeling. Now, what is pain? Pain can be defined as any unpleasantness sensed in our body or mind. It is the denial of gratification to senses in any degree. To be more concise, pain is absence of pleasure and vice versa. So precisely, both are opposite feelings. Can we have pain and pleasure together? Yes, both can coexist and each cannot totally replace the other completely. Whatever the sate that predominates at any given time either pain or pleasure, our senses pick it up and make us feel the same or give us a state of subjective feeling of being in pain or pleasure.

Now what is purpose of pain or pleasure?

Pleasure drives us to goodness and helps us avoid physical hurts and guards us. Pleasure draws us towards the object of having it more and pain does the opposite. But in long run, pain teaches you better lessons than pleasure. Comfort and pleasure slows down progress. Pleasure and pain should alternate. Pain brings endurance but pleasure brings intolerance. Pleasure is insignificant without pain and the quality of pleasure is dependent on the magnitude of the predecessor pain. But consistent pain in long run becomes pleasure and consistent pleasure eventually turns out to be painful. The ultimate joy is to discover pleasure in pain. In other words, the secret of joy is to discover pleasure in pain. Every pleasure ends with a craving for more. Only when we are devoid of pleasure we begin to be sensible or sensitive to moral living.

In summary, pain and pleasure are amoral in themselves. It is only the means by which we get it that makes it good or evil. Both pain and pleasure were instilled in our body and mind for a define purpose by God. So don’t really worry about always avoiding pain and always getting pleasure but go with the circumstances as ordered by God. We are unhappy until we have control over our circumstances of how we get pleasure or avoid pain. So we try to condition our circumstances. So if circumstances are not favorable we are terribly unhappy. But the secret is that we have to detach ourselves from the circumstances and see to it that God controls it. It is a fact that only God orders circumstances and not we. So allow circumstances to change you to be a better person in Jesus.

Prince R Prabhu

Dr. Prince Prabhu works as a faculty member at the Teaching and Research Centre for Biotechnology, Anna University. He is an able Bible teacher, gifted in expositing the Scriptures with an apologetic edge. He also serves as an Elder in King of Glory Sanctuary. Conversant in both English and Tamil, he teaches in the El-Bethel Bible College learning Centres established all over India.