Monday, April 19, 2004

On Saturday night, went and saw "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" with mr. Joe Long. As I drove home, I was filled with some thoughts about pain in general. I got marked down in seminary one time on a paper because I made the statement that "pain is a part of the human experience" and that we should "embrace suffering". The professor in this class on healing was not fond of my presuppositions and let me know my errant theology. I suppose I was to say that if we pray and have faith, it is God's will to hear us and heal us instantly. That line of thinking is still not consistent with my experience, perhaps I need more faith. Perhaps I need to buy a Tony Robbins DVD. Perhaps I should have plastic surgery a.k.a. "the Swan" to have my pain go away. Perhaps I should have some memories erased as the characters in the movie suggest. Doesn't that seem the right thing, pain avoidance?
Pain has always been my connection with people. Some find that too intense at times and I'm just so glad that those have not had to experience deep levels of pain in their life and I in no way think its a pre-requisite for Christ following. But I do believe that most of the change and transformation in my life has come out of pain. Its how I learn big teachings. It is why I care about people, why I care to pay attention to them, why I care to respond to them in the Spirit, why I care to build and invite Kingdom into people's lives. I care because of pain. It has real purpose for me, it drives me to transformation and action. I don't want it erased and I don't want to short-change others away from their pain of how it might be used for greater healing. C.S. Lewis said that "pain is God's megaphone for a deaf world". Pain is a great attention getter. And if we are people that are teacheable, we ought to embrace these experiences, not avoid them. I believe its a mark of maturity for the Christ follower, how they deal with suffering. To read the N.T. and not see a huge theme of pain and suffering is to read with eyes wide shut. Jesus, Paul, Peter and John, the dominant authors make it a point to address it constantly and not avoid it. The O.T. is chock full of horrific painful stories of the tragic history of people.
Avoid pain? Seems a logical thought. But it might be the one that strays you from the story of God.


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