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Scale of 1 to 10

You can count yourself blessed if you’ve never been asked by a health care professional to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10.  Many are all too familiar with the question. 
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The provider explains that 1 means no pain at all, and 10 means “maximum possible” pain.  If the pain is pretty bad, it’s common to push the rating all the way up to 10.  However, “maximum possible” would seem to suggest we are unable to answer the question, not even hear it, because we are screaming so loud.  So personally, I question anyone self-reporting a 10 pain level.  I pray you may never experience anything close.

On the other end of the scale, now and then there are times when we have no pain, but often there is something hurting, even if only a little. I pray that you are in the 1-2 range, and if it’s worse, I pray for it to ease.

It occurs to me that the 1 to 10 scale idea can be applied to many things other than physical pain.  Emotional pain is a lot like the physical – rarely is there none, and we hope and pray for very little of the maximum possible.

But let’s think about the flip side.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how blessed do you feel?  Not at all?  To me that would mean you are on the verge of dying, alone and without hope.  Unless you are in that place, you have something to feel blessed about.  Food to eat, people around you.  And hope, let’s make sure we don’t forget hope.

At the other end of the scale, what would 10 mean?  Maximum possible blessing sounds to me like no more worry, no more pain, no more death.  We get a nice description of it in Revelation 2:3-4.  Maximum possible blessing means we’re in the Kingdom.  None of us are there, yet.

Another one.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how spiritual are you feeling?  Almost certainly not nothing, there is some spirituality in you.  At the other end, I’m quite sure it’s not 10, because you are a mortal, corruptible human being.

feeling blessed and feeling spiritual are the result of looking for those things

Is there anything we can do about where we are on any of these scales?  If we are in physical pain, there are painkillers, there are therapies.  They may not push the number all the way to 1, but maybe they will lower it some.  If we’re in emotional pain, there may also be options that will help.  The point is, we need not just sit in misery.  We can seek help.

On the other side, if we are feeling little blessed, we probably have stopped seeing the blessings which are, in fact, all around — we can do something about that.  If we are feeling little spirituality, there are things we can do.  We know what they are — we just have to muster the energy to do them.  Or if we can’t muster it, reach out for help.  Mostly, feeling blessed and feeling spiritual are the result of looking for those things.  Truly, the one who seeks finds.

Think for a moment about Jesus.  (Actually, he deserves a lot more than a moment!)  I believe that crucifixion qualifies as level 10 pain.  When he lamented over Jerusalem and its rejection of his and the Father’s appeals to them, when he wept at Lazarus’s tomb, when he poured out his soul in Gethsemane, he had significant emotional pain.  But, I think, not 10.  He never abandoned hope, he always knew his Father was there supporting him.

How blessed did he feel?  Very, I’m sure, but like us I believe he still isn’t all the way to 10—because we, his brothers and sisters, are still hurting, still dying.  He too gets to 10 only in the Kingdom.  Spirituality?  Did he ever doubt, did he ever feel wracked by temptation?  Of course he did.  He overcame, as we know—never went down to the 1 level.  And now of course he is permanently at 10.  Where we all wish we could be.  And, he has promised, one day we will be.

The point here is obvious.  It’s important for a doctor or a nurse to understand where and how bad we hurt—so that appropriate measures can be taken.  We can apply the same thinking to the other 1 to 10 scales.  How bad is it?  How good is it?  What measures might be appropriate?  What help might we need?  Just thinking about our blessings helps us move up that scale.  Just thinking about our spirituality suggests ways it might move up.

Always, we look to Jesus.  He’s been there, he can help.  He is there for us, to rejoice with us in hope and blessedness, to commiserate with us in pain and trouble, to save us, to raise us up—both now and in the last day.

Love, Paul

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