“One thing you can’t hide – is when you’re crippled inside.”
As I live and write, there is a certain code I try to hold, and part of that code is transparency. My goal is to live a life, that is for the most part, genuine, almost always transparent, and constantly willing to, whether from myself or others, bring into question how I think, as well as, how I act. This post was a hard post to write, but as you will see, is as me as me can be.
Pain is a four letter, that is sometimes worse than what any obscenity starting with an “F”, “S” or “D” could possibly ever hope to be. Pain is an emotion, that if you are alive, you will undoubtedly feel. Pain intrudes upon our being in various ways and as a result manifests itself, through ourselves and others. There is no particular cause for what can or cannot cause one pain, whether physical or literal, there is not a single human being excluded from experiencing it. Able to be mental or physical, pain is one of the most difficult of a person’s adversary, the Moriarty to our Holmes, knowing few bounds, making little off limits.
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
-C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
I have seen pain in my life, as I am sure you have. Find me a person who has it. Some of the pains I have dealt with, many others have also. I never properly knew my father, he disappeared when I was young, and before that my recollection of him is nonexistent. His pain from being abandoned himself lead to his causing pain to others. My mother was emotionally unavailable, suffering from misdiagnosed mental illness to which her pain resulted in the abuse, and improper raising of myself and my brother. By allowing the pain of her abuse, and mental ailments to be directed toward my brother and I, she in a sense, continued the cycle of pain. In seventh grade I endured sexual abuse from a guy in my hometown. That guy had been himself abused sexually, once again, a cycle of pain. When we do not let pain go, even without us knowing it, it can control us, continuing a never ending cycle of heartache and bitterness, thrust upon ourselves, as well as, other people. We do to others the very thing which was done to us, or at least that is a potential risk anyway. The great thing about being a believer, is that, through Christ we can end the cycles
“I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.”
Why am I telling you this? Pain is a funny thing. First of all none of these people who inflicted pain upon me were believers that I know of, but at the same time, reacting to pain, in a sinful way and imposed upon others, is not exclusively a trait of nonbelievers. I believe when it comes to the pain that we experience in our lives, we can do one of two things with it, regardless of if we are a believer or unbeliever. We can allow it to control us, continuing the cycle of pain inflicted upon us, onto others or we can take that pain, resisting it, and allowing the Lord to use it to make us stronger, to make us better and ultimately to make us more like Christ. The pain we endure, Christ endured ten million times that. When James talks about perseverance, he is not just talking about physically persevering, but also doing so mentally.
“We all know people who have been made much meaner and more irritable and more intolerable to live with by suffering: it is not right to say that all suffering perfects. It only perfects one type of person, the one who accepts the call of God in Christ Jesus.”
I have been thinking about pain a lot lately, hence why I am writing about it. There are still areas in my life that I allow pain to have control, but at the same time there are a lot of painful things that could control me, that do not. My brother is not a believer, and as I see his life, and the things he lives for, I know deep down it is because of the pain he experienced growing up. The Lord has used this tremendously, because every time I pray or think about my brother, I praise God that pain has made me the same, because it very well could have. The only difference between my bother and I is that I gave my heart and mind to Christ, he didn’t. Nothing else sets us apart. I very well could have taken the pain from any past experiences and let it mold me, instead I chose something else. That does not mean there are still not pains that cause me to struggle, that at times hurt my relationships with others. We often think about God providing Christ as a means of a relationship with Him and salvation, but how often do we see Christ as a provision to cure our pain? Unfortunately our flesh is clever, and we are stupid, it is not always that easy, but at the same time whenever we are ready, that definition we have in Christ is literally all that we need to defend ourselves. Does that mean I will cease to fail and my pain will not impact others? I wish that were so. There is not a day in my life where my insecurities, my past hurts, and my bitterness that has not been dealt with, affect someone in some way, and even though I may fail, making a mess of things, that does not mean Christ gives up on making me better.
“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”
These eyes have seen pain, not just in my life, but in so many of your lives as well. As I struggle now, dealing with impossible situations, and my flesh, I realize that it is not worth it to allow pain to control me. Yes, what we might be dealing with may suck, and sometimes feel almost like we can carry on no further, that our lives are over, but if that were true, if God were done with us, we would not be sitting here now. The Christian life is just as much about pain as it is joy, and love, and birth, and death, and happiness, and sorrow. Every time someone tells me that God “has a purpose and a plan for us” I typically roll my eyes. But how true is that really? If God did not have something more for me for you, as believers who are in Christ, He would be done with us, We would cease to be. Such a simple yet mindbogglingly, thought engrossing concept, that makes it hard to believe that you cannot keep going on. I mean, we have made it this far have we not?
Every painful thing we experience in relationships is meant to remind us of our need for God. And every good thing we experience is meant to be a metaphor of what we can only find in Him…. We settle for the satisfaction of human relationships when they were meant to point us to the perfect relational satisfaction found only with God.”
-Paul David Tripp
I have no idea what pain you are experiencing, or what things you are dealing with, but take it from someone who knows pain, there is hope. Unbelievers, they have to numb pain, because they have not accepted the cure for it, whereas believers, we have hope, our cure is Christ, which means we can embrace pain, our pain can be managed, it can be dealt with. I used to think I could not hear God, and that His dealings with me were like a silent film, without any subtitles. The thing I failed to realize is that often He uses other people and resources to speak and reach out to me. The same is true for you. As a body, we are a family, and our impact on each others lives is the manifestation of the love and work that Christ is doing within us. They are not the cure to the pain, but a part of the cure God uses as He works through them. Furthermore as we study God’s word and see the pain, and hopelessness that a lot of the people He used experienced, it reminds us that we are no different. Those people were people, like us, with the same emotions and feelings, including pain, that we have. Most of the time the people found in Scripture or even the history of Christianity faced hardships, that make what we deal with at times look like nothing. Not do downplay our pain, but more an emphasis that if they can survive, we can too. He is more than enough to pull us through the pain, once we begin to realize that, living in light of this truth, pain starts to hurt a little less.