Larry, my husband, reached the door ahead of me. "Is Debby home?" I heard her ask. Standing there - hot and sweaty, no make-up, hair in a ponytail, holding her dog on a leash - she still looked beautiful. Yet nothing could mask her pain. "Can we talk?" And talk we did. Seated on my screen porch, glasses of ice tea in hand, our hearts connected. As I listened, I ached. Hers was an agonizing, soul wrenching, beyond belief story. Pain punctuated her every sentence; pain punctuated her every pause. Could it get any worse?
Yet, this situation is not isolated. Our summer afternoon conversation mirrors other Could it get any worse? stories. Regularly, I drive home from Bible Study, Growth Group, and Home Group sobered. The dominant theme of pain ranks at an all time high - not the common aches and pains that accompany human life inside a body. Rather, I am referring to fist in the gut type of pain that threatens to take you out of the arena.
How can we cope with our silent companion that screams for attention? Is there an Aleve for life? As I ache alongside each relationship (and as I experience pain of my own) I conclude:
Pain is incorporated into life; it will never go away.
5 questions emerge from these real life situations:
1. What causes pain?
Pain springs from unwanted news: a diagnosis, a scan, a death, a phone call, a test result, an injury, a job notice, a letter in the post, a policeman at the door.
Pain comes with unforeseen circumstances: an unpaid bill, an unplanned illness, an unexpected rift in a relationship.
Pain results from unanticipated crises: a career crisis, an emotional crisis, a financial crisis, a spiritual crisis, a child's crisis, a spouse's crisis.
2. What do we do with pain?
Pain refuses to be ignored. Pain possesses power, pain drives emotions, and pain pushes questions to the forefront of our minds. Ironically, pain never answers any of the questions it raises. You and I feel our humanness most when we find ourselves wrestling with pain. This leads me to a suggestion: give pain the attention it demands.
3. What not to do with pain?
Do not blithely say, "Oh, I'm fine." Painful disappointment, painful illness, painful news, painful rejection, and painful thinking, are all painful realities. Fake faith always fails in the face of pain. ‘Fake it til we make it’ carries long term, serious side effects. When you and I are in a hurting mess, we need Holy Help. In the face of pain, only heartfelt honesty can make possible heartfelt joy.
4. How do we make our peace with pain?
You and I must sift our pain through the Word of God; only here do we find legitimate breakthroughs.
My grace is sufficient for you. His Grace medicates our pain as nothing else can.
I will never leave you or forsake you. His Presence provides companionship, even when our pain takes us to places of aloneness we never dreamed of having to go.
Sorrowful yet rejoicing. His Perspective, not ours, makes it possible to authentically live life on two levels. Our sojourn becomes both/and, not either/or.
Not My will, but Thine be done. Embracing Jesus' Model of submission to pain is the soothing prescription for genuine, supernatural peace.
5.What lesson have I learned from pain?
Life requires far more than an Aleve. Can I say, “Bring it on!” No, I don’t think so. But I can say,
"Jesus is so sweet and pain is an incredible teacher."
Living with eternal intentionality: What have you learned about pain from real life situations?