I have lived a relatively pain-free life so far, at least physically. (Writing about emotional or spiritual pain would be a different subject…and post). But three years ago, my wife suffered what we came to call the “summer of pain.” One day she was leaning over to make a bed, a few weeks later she was crumpled on the bed in overwhelming sciatica pain. Watching someone you love endure great pain is its own kind of suffering.
“The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing” (Isaiah 51:3-4).
I recently Googled the trailer from the Julia Roberts movie “Eat, Pray, Love.” Julia’ s character had gone into her bathroom in the middle of the night, shut the door and prayed the only way she knew how. She said prayer was so remote to her that she started to say “Hello God I’m a big fan of your work!” Julia’s character was in pain.
In counting your blessings this year as you sit around the Thanksgiving table will painful times be on your list? It’s easy to be thankful for the things that bring us pleasure; like family, friends, good food, a roof over our heads, health. But often those things that bring us joy, also (and sometimes simultaneously) bring us pain. But, is it possible for the things that bring us pain to reveal a deeper or hidden joy?
On August 14, 2010 we said goodbye to my dear friend Claire, who died of brain cancer at age 35, after a ten-year battle.
The God I’ve come to know over my adult life is clearly more interested in my character formation than my happiness. Ugh. This God seems to care little about the outcomes or achievements of my life compared to who I am becoming; if I am becoming my true, Christ-like self.