Why Do We Sometimes Feel Pain Physical
or Emotional During Ministry to Others?
Explaining Prophetic Feelers
For all of you that are interested in being used by God in healing or deliverance there is a phenomenon that occurs during ministry that requires an answer. That phenomenon is what occurs when God allows the person ministering to experience the physical or emotional pain of another person. For me this happens quite frequently. Sometimes more than I admit to liking.
If you are among those unfamiliar with this experience let me give you an example. A few weeks ago my co-worker came into the office and approximately 5 minutes into her visit I felt a sudden sharp pain go up my back. Though it came upon me suddenly it continued for quite some time. It didn’t take more than another 5 minutes for her to say how much her back was hurting. I’ve had the same thing happen in malls, where I would come into a place and get a sudden headache or knee pain. When this first began to happen to me years ago, I would literally feel all kinds of pain from people. At the time, I didn’t know or understand what was happening. In fact, it happened so often that I didn’t want to go out; It was very overwhelming at first. I eventually came to an understanding of what was happening, but I still did not know what to do about it. Not only did I feel the pain of others, I also felt their condition. For instance, I could feel how tired they were. I later learned that this is one of the manifestations the gift of the word of knowledge.
Words of knowledge are just it sounds, words that impart to us knowledge. Some people limit them to words about facts, past and present. I however, define them as any knowledge that God imparts to us supernaturally. So what most people call revelation knowledge in my opinion is really this gift in operation. Nevertheless, it is supernaturally imparted information that you could not have known naturally.
God uses this particular gift quite frequently in the ministry of healing. Sometimes He speaks words of knowledge. Other times He gives us supernatural information in visions and dreams. Then sometimes He gives us this information by experience.
So why would God choose this particular method to give us this supernatural information? Why is it important to God for us to experience someone else’s pain? That is what I want to answer in the paragraphs that follow.
To start we must realize that all of the gifts of the Spirit are manifestations of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says that the “manifestation of the Spirit is given”. The purpose of the gifts of God operating through us is to reveal the nature and character of God. This is a necessary foundational truth that we must first understand. We also see this truth supported in Acts as the disciples are in prayer. They say in their prayer to God, …and grant your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word by stretching out your hand to heal… in the name of Jesus Christ.” Notice that healing, signs, and wonders speak of, or reveal Jesus. Just notice how the passage asks God to speak by healing…
Therefore, we know that all of the gifts are revelations of His divine nature. So how does this relate to the topic? The Bible in Hebrews 4:15, says that we do not have a High Priest who does not sympathize with our infirmities. This is a common characteristic of Jesus. He often presents Himself as one that empathizes and sympathizes with us. In one of the Gospel stories, Jesus saw the people of Israel as sheep without a shepherd (leader and caretaker). He then became emotionally compelled to heal them. It was His ability to empathize with them that moved Him to heal.
Likewise, this particular quality of Jesus shows up in the operation of the gifts. Sometimes it becomes imperative that we do more than treat ministry as opportunities to be obedient. Sometimes effective ministry goes beyond serving the physical need and ministers to the deeper need with love. I have learned that the difference between good ministry and marginal ministry is demonstrated in how we serve the need. I have seen someone sing a song. And I have seen someone minister a song. I have also seen the same in prophecy and preaching. Some people give the word, while others, usually the more successful, minister the word.
We don’t often realize that while ministering we are very much like the server at a restaurant. If our server simply does his job by taking our order and giving us our food, we feel slighted. In contrast, if we have a server that takes the time to speak to us and really give us special attention, we feel served. We seem to feel as though the server really cared about making us a feel valued. Jesus often served people the same way. He took the time to make people feel as if He cared about them. And that’s because as Hebrews 4:15 says, He did.
Often when we are ministering to a person or when God wants us to minister to a person, He allows us to be touched by the “feeling of their infirmity”. He does so to inspire in us compassion. Nothing inspires compassion like feeling the pain for yourself. Feeling the infirmity of others makes us say to ourselves, “Dear Lord, is that what they are dealing with?” It also makes us think about how their infirmity hinders their quality of life. But in reality, God is only allowing us to experience a fraction of the pain, or tiredness etc. the person is dealing with.
So remember, whenever God allows you to feel someone else’s infirmity, He is saying to you, “I want you to care about this person’s condition”. Let Him inspire you with compassion. (I said compassion, not love. Ministering in “love” is topic for a later discussion).