The Problem of Pain

Due to my recent heart inventory, I have discovered that I have a great “issue” with emotion. Whether good or bad, I don’t like it because I often times feel like I cannot control it. No matter how logical I am, my heart will not allow me to override it. So then I usually end up numbing myself to my emotions. I ignore them, shove them away or consume myself with something that I think will be a good enough distraction to keep me preoccupied.the journey back

It disgusts me that I have allowed myself to become so mechanical. And I am coming to realize that our Christian culture doesn’t help with this at all.

So I am currently allowing myself some anger with our misconstrued ideas on pain, suffering and emotions. I think as a Church we have done a lousy job with this over the years and I am ready to change myself.

I have found that in the midst of gut-wrenching heartache, daily trials and unending suffering we offer words that are full of hope yet completely devoid of empathy. We long to remind our fellow brothers and sisters of the hope that Jesus is bigger than our problems, that He is here for us and we ought to trust Him in the midst of our circumstances.

And while this all true, I believe we are missing the other half of the response to pain here.

I long for others to meet me in my pain, to see me in my pain and acknowledge just how much it hurts. I suppose I should only speak for myself, but I would take a gamble and guess that the vast majority of people feel the same.

David had an uncanny ability of pouring his heart out to God, of acknowledging the depths of his soul and allowing the Lord to walk with Him through the mine fields of his heart, maintaining a Kingdom focus beyond his current circumstances. One of my favorites, Psalm 42, remains a consistent prayer for my own heart and the many broken hearts  I continue to encounter. I think it really captures what I am trying to convey:

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Love it. I feel like David gets me. If he was still around today, he would probably be one of my kindred spirits. I have a few close people like this in my life, praise God, and unfortunately I know many, many people do not.

So what’s the issue? If we have denied our hearts the God-designed ability to feel, if we have  anesthetized ourselves to our own emotions, how in the world could we possibly enter into another’s pain? How could we truly be Christ-like to others in their darkest hour if we are unable to step into their shoes, cry with them, mourn their loss and acknowledge that even God’s heart breaks for their pain?

So it starts with me -with you, friend, and with God’s help.  We must first allow God to enter into our own hearts, cry with us and mourn our losses. We must allow Him to show us His broken heart for our current state,  to show us how He feels about sin, death and pain. I believe He longs to demonstrate the feelings we all-too-often cannot tap into ourselves. I believe He longs to enter into that pain and heal us. I believe He longs to bring streams of living waters through the most barren places of our hearts.

It is a brave task – exploring the depths of your heart – and He longs to do it with you. I’m in this time, friends… who’s with me?

This entry was published on December 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm. It’s filed under Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “The Problem of Pain

  1. Very good post, very true as well… after doing much counseling (or should I say being counseled), I have discovered how much our culture and especially myself struggles with emotion, whether that’s dealing with it on our own, or in the midst of others. We in america, like to be “ok” all the time and like to live “manageable” lives that can be done, all “by ourselves”… truth is, it was never meant to be done this way, and so many people are dying inside because they can’t deal or express their emotions!

  2. Amen! Too often we think that a Christian should grin and bear it — don’t let the world see that we are hurting. That is an enormous disservice and lost opportunity. Of course we hurt, and we should let that show — and acknowledge the hurt in others — all the while demonstrating that even though we hurt and grieve, our hope is still in God.

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