What Tylenol has to do with compassion

Dr. Paul Brand wrote a book called The Gift of Pain.  He has had exposure to great pain and has learned a great deal about it.  He has seen several different cultures and their response to pain and how that affects those within the culture.  I found his perception of American culture and its response to pain very interesting. “...a society that seeks to avoid pain at all costs.  Patients lived at a greater comfort level than any I had previously treated, BUT THEY SEEMED FAR LESS EQUIPPED TO HANDLE SUFFERING AND FAR MORE TRAUMATIZED BY IT.” (EMPHASIS mine)

We are one of the only cultures in the world, which avoids pain at all cost.  The pain relief industry in America is a more than $63 billion A YEAR industry.  What has been the result of that avoidance?

Because of our exceptional avoidance of pain, we have continually made ourselves more and more unable to handle suffering.

What I have challenged myself with as a Christian is to try and understand what compassionate love is going to look like with this information.

The Latin break down of “compassion” is “com” + “patti”, which ends up meaning “to suffer with”.

As a Christian, I have been called to compassion toward those around me.  I have been called to SUFFER WITH those around me.

Now as an American Christian, this is going to be a greater challenge.  For me to be compassionate I will need to suffer with others; but in order to suffer with others, I will need to give up trying so hard to avoid pain.

It is no wonder being compassionate is so difficult!


“I learned that pain sends a signal not only to the patient but to the surrounding community as well.  Just as individual pain sensors announce to other cells in the body, ‘Attend to me! I need help!” so do suffering human beings cry out to the community at large.” – Dr. Paul Brand

PC Walker

Speaker.Author.Poet, whatever comes through the cracks is all grace.