So many people are in pain right now - be it physical, mental, emotional. Friends, parents, co-workers, relatives.
The desperation can sink in ever so slowly. Sometimes, though, it comes quickly like a torrent of early spring rain. It's different for each person.
Even this week I've seen it play it differently for both those I hold near and love dearly, and those I know from a distance (and love dearly as well).
Mostly we are taught to fear pain, to avoid it at all cost. The advice is: stay away from those whose mouthy barbs hurt; don't allow anyone close enough to know your deepest, darkest secrets; avoid the homeless or hitch-hikers because they just want to scam you or hurt you. (These are only what comes to mind now, at 5pm on a Friday; please excuse the randomness).
What happens when we turn this notion on its head and embrace pain instead?
Think about it. Imagine what it truly means to not despair because of cancer; or financial loss; or harsh criticism; or an imperfect body; or the countless other pains today. Try to feel the weight of your emotions and thoughts when pain strikes.
We say, "Oh, I know that I would not despair. The Lord is my hope/I am too strong for it/I don't think that situation warrants it." Or, in all honesty, we run away afraid, hurt, betrayed, angry, thinking we are full of much more wisdom than the One who orchestrates the situation that causes pain. "I deserve to despair; just give that much to me." is the anthem when the despair is all one feels in control of.
Do you believe He is in control?
Do you believe He is good?
Do you believe that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate [you] from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord?
Turn to the One who holds all of creation in His hands, who catches all your desperate tears. He hears your cries of prayers, even when they sound more like groanings than words. He understands your anger, because He too watched as injustices took place against both others and Himself. He felt pain as you have, tasting betrayal stronger than most today will ever experience. He begged that the cup of suffering pass Him in His darkest hour. His body was pierced, torn, beaten, broken with pain so intense that He poured blood.
Turn to He who says, "Come all you who are weary, and I will give you rest."
The victim mentality ("why me?") will only lead you further into despair. Don't allow your heart and mind and soul to go there.
For a little over two years now, I've followed the story of a woman who lost her full-term baby days before her due date. A part of my heart hurts thinking about what it means to lose a child. I cannot and will not pretend to understand that loss, however.
She now writes about grief and the process on her blog. Here's an excerpt of her talking about the grief:
I feel like I’ve fought it tooth and nail. But now I’m coming to more of a peace with it. I’m accepting it more. One of my dear friends through this process (who is older and wiser than me, thank God) shared with me recently about a grief she’d been facing in her life. Something she said really stood out to me. She told me, “I’m gonna drink this painful cup all the way down, just drain it. And I’m gonna ask the Lord to make it something beautiful.”
It's confusing to think of grief and pain this way. It doesn't come naturally but rather is a grace given by God. My hope is that you will drink your painful cup and ask the Lord to make it something beautiful.
You can't avoid pain. But you can choose to use it to make much of the Lord and to inspire others to do the same.
Lord, make it something beautiful.