This morning I'm getting ready to go to a funeral for the third person I knew that died last week. Death brings... pain.It seems as though I've had more conversations about pain in the last two months than I ever thought would occur in such a short period of time or maybe in my entire life. Conversations with others as they struggle through pain, conversations about my own pain, talking to Holy Spirit about pain, and even the trauma counselor saying pain, pain, pain. All of us discussing how do we get through this pain, or how do we help so and so out of their pain, plainly... what do we do with pain?
So many times we don't know how to deal with the issue of pain for ourselves or for others. In life it's an issue that is completely unavoidable and yet at the same time, often quite disregarded. Pain will come. Physical pain, emotional pain, mental pain. I wish we could snap our fingers and make the pain leave, but unfortunately that's not how it works and often not even how Jesus chooses for it to work.
In the midst of trials we have a God who says, "come hide in me". CS lewis says in his book, "The Problem of Pain" that God whispers in our pleasure, but shouts in our pain. What He's meaning is when you need Him the most, He's there, and He makes His presence real and tangible for you, if you just COME.
No one wants to hurt and we try to do what we can to avoid it at all costs, however, the truth is we have a God who wants to deal with the root of our pain, then heal our pain, and not just pretend like it's not there.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all. (Psalm 34:17-19)
"You can't always help what happens to you, but you can help what happens in you" -Kris Vallaton "Walking Out of Pain" (an awesome sermon on dealing with pain if you ever get the chance to listen to it)
It's an amazing paradox that James would tell us to "count it all joy" when trials come our way. I mean let's be real for a minute here, how many of you when a trial comes the first reaction you have is, "YES SWEET, THIS IS GREAT, I'M GOING TO BE SO MUCH MORE LIKE JESUS WHEN THIS IS OVER?!?!" The truth is trials often bring pain and James doesn't say that you won't feel pain, he doesn't say to ignore your pain or even swallow your pain down, he simply says COUNT IT JOY! You can't always help that the trial came, but you can choose how you deal with it.
When pain comes go to the Hiding Place. Go to your Shelter. Go to your Comforter. Even if it's your fault. Even if you were treated unfairly. Even if you can't explain it. Even if you don't understand it. Even if you just want to ignore it. Even if you think you know the answer for how to stop it. Run to the Lord because He is near the brokenhearted and He saves the crushed in Spirit. He rescues you from all your afflictions. Be honest with Him, be open with Him, be vulnerable with Him, and then listen. Listen for Him to speak and then trust Him to bring healing.
Pain isn't fun. It isn't easy. But it does come. Sometimes we think we've gotten over it and then it creeps back up again. Sometimes we think we can bury it enough to not effect us, but that's a lie. Sometimes we think we can handle it ourselves and we can't. BUT trust Him. Trust Him. Trust Him. Use the tools He's given you such as the Word, prayer, JOY, community, worship, etc. and watch Him be faithful.
Often I find that the worse pain for me is when those I love are in pain. When my kids, my friends, my family, are hurting I want to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to fix their pain, but just as in my life, God wants them to run to Him and be healed. He can do what I can't do. All I can do is point them to Him. So when dealing with pain in others, trust the Word. Mourn with those who mourn. Encourage them with the Word. Take 1 Corinthians 13 and make it your mantra, endure long, be patient and be kind.
God is faithful. He will heal you and those you love. He will bring you through your trials, His Word says He delivers us from them ALL.