Pain

Yesterday’s quote made me stop and think.

God works all things together for good to them that love Him. (Romans 8:28). The good that God gives, naturally seems good…they are undeserved blessings or things we’ve wished for, or things that appeal to us. Or the inevitable evils that are stayed by His hand – these seem like Him working all things for good because it is the desired outcome.

But what about the evils that do come and are allowed to dwell in our midst? What about the hurts that are experienced, the losses, disappointments, needs? How do these things fit into the “good” category?

My tenuous personal example is my health. My health is definitely not what most people consider good. In fact, not only does it not reach ideal, but it’s sick, broken, bad…evil. If God is good, if He works all things together for good, than why this allowed evil?

Evils in our lives, and the lives around us, cannot be ignored. There is no sand pit deep enough in which to hide our heads. Our world is too full of sin.

Why all of this evil?

Well, for one, I know a world of sin wasn’t His choice, it was ours. Adam chose evil for human-kind and so evil is inherently ours. Not to mention, thousands of years later, we still choose the same evil. But God in His great love for us chose to save us from this evil. So He paid sin’s debt on the cross.

But, as a child of God, even after accepting His salvation, evil still affects me. Why? I can’t escape it until I get out of this world…but there’s still the settling of the claim that “all things work together for good”.

Over the past 4 years I have been amazed at this lesson. I’ve learned that the “evil” that reaches me actually is good. My greatest “evil” is pain. I have learned to accept that pain isn’t proof that He doesn’t exist, or worse, that He doesn’t care – it’s part of life; the believer’s life as well as the lost’s. Anytime I have experienced pain He was there. No, He didn’t make it go away. But He made sure it wasn’t more than I could handle. He stood there and held my hand. He made sure it didn’t last longer than it had to. Who chooses pain’s intensity and length of time? We certainly don’t. If it were up to us, we would have none at all. Satan, on the other hand, would have it last an eternity. But thank God He is all-powerful and loves us enough to allow pain’s benefits while making a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13).

He takes the evils of this sin-sick world and changes it for my good. I wouldn’t trade pain for anything; it has been my sweetest experiences of Him. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” Psalm 119:71

Through my weaknesses and pain I have learned the secret source of perfect strength: God. “…Mostly gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Only God could bring healing through hurt. Only He could make tears cleansing and sorrow a song. There is peace in allowing Him to sing and just following his strange melody.

I wrote this while experiencing horrible pain:

Sing soul, sing

Yet when I try

a lilt of pain

Is all I cry

Sing soul, sing

I pause to hear

the tune He sings

Fills me with fear

Sing soul, sing

He sings a tune

Of unknowns dark

and gaping wound

Sing soul, sing

Oh follow me

Must dare to try

Dark harmony

Sing soul, sing

My dry lips part

It hurts, it hurts

This bleeding heart”

Sing soul, sing

Through gritted teeth

Fear not” He says

Oh God” I breathe

Sing soul sing

Praise Him and dare

To thank Hi for

All that’s unfair

Sing soul, sing

I dare believe

that He knows best

And best for me

Sing soul, sing

A song of pain

A healing hurt

A hum of rain

Sing soul, sing

Until He’s done

Sing on sing on

…I’ve finally sung.

To refine something doesn’t mean to punish it, but only to purify it. Could it be that I am being purified?

Man has a claim on God, a Divine claim for any pain, want, disappointment, or misery that will help to make him what he ought to be. He has a claim to be …spared not one pang that may urge him to repentance…to be hedged in on every side…to thwart him in any desire, foil him in any plan, frustrate him of any hope, until he comes to see at length that nothing will ease his pain, nothing make life a thing worth having, but the presence of the living God.” 

 – George MacDonald

I can claim pain as my bridge to His presence. Of course He is always there, pain or not, but in pain I need Him and through this dependence I learn who He is. I can accept pain as a way of life. There is peace in acceptance.

What is:

Freedom from disturbances

Freedom from war

Freedom from internal commotion

Freedom from agitation or disturbance of the passions, as from fear, terror, anxiety or the like; quietness of mind; tranquility, calmness; quiet or conscience.

That is Webster’s definition of peace. Peace is not an absence of these disturbances but a freedom from them. In acceptance I find peace, a freedom from my pain.

Job had every earthly right to wonder at the pain God allowed in his life. And he asks over and over – “Why?” But when God shows Himself to Job, Job has no thought of his pain but on God’s greatness. Job didn’t have to understand anything else. He didn’t need the answer to his “why”, Job could accept God as enough.

I recently read C.S. Lewis’ “A Grief Observed” and something Lewis pointed out comforted me:

When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer’. It is not a locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace child; you don’t understand.’

Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that.” (69)

Why do I hurt? Why is this evil allowed? Could these questions actually be like asking if yellow is square or round? Most likely. It is not disinterest in me that He is often silent, but His infinite understanding matched to my ignorant questions. Love often allows His loved ones to hurt. But only for a time…and only for their good. I have found peace in acceptance without my circumstances changing. Only God.

How hard to hold a hurt

But sweet to take and trust

Bloody, blind in my unknowns

But held by One who loves

Sleep my be coveted

But this He chose for me

There’s peace in acceptance

That’s all the rest I need

This sweet kind of sunshine

Is high above my fears

A Presence with a name

A warmth that drys my tears

Pain may come and impale

Emotions surge or cease

But with Him a call away

I can go on – I’m free.

T.L.H.

Bleeding Hearts

 

Image result for Bleeding hearts

I’m sitting alone on the shore. I’m holding my heart in my hand and no-one notices. Or worse: they do, they just don’t care. A family member walks by and accidentally stomps on my raw and vulnerable emotions. I look around to find some way of numbing, but can’t find it. I’m bleeding inside out. Someone I look up to, passes by. I hang my heart on a clothes line – stark and obvious. Who wants to force people into acknowledging your heart? Who wants to demand that your needs must be met? They don’t even notice. I used to starve for someone to understand. I yearned to be wanted outside of my capabilities. But even that has become stale. I get up and walk away from the shoreline towards the rocks. I want to be left alone. I want people to stop hurting me. I want to cover up those exposed nerve endings. I want to stop caring and feeling. Someone close to me, walks by. I don’t even stop. To be ignored with your heart in your hand is insulting. I cry aloud and no one cares. But at least there’s dignity in silence.

A friend runs up to me and extends their hand. How unexpected! I suddenly feel self conscious – they want me to hand over my heart so they can peek into that deeper private place. Isn’t this what I’ve been waiting for? Why do I want to hide? Here’s my chance! I timidly open the door to my heart to let them in. Do they expect a cheerful welcome after such long abandonment? They don’t even look inside. They reach in and pull with one intrusive yank. “Look friend, see my heart? Listen to my hurts!”

I stare back. I used to sit, like a puppy on the other side of the glass door, expectantly watching; wagging my tail every time someone seemed to be approaching. It almost makes me angry that I was so foolish. With my back to the glass, somehow I will find healing.

I sit on the shore. Jesus walks by. He calls and I pat the sand next to me. Jesus sits down and I hand Him my heart. Gently He holds it. I open the door to it and He smiles. We talk a long time. I tell Him how hurt I am and He nods and understands.

“Why are you so hurt?” He finally asks.

Isn’t it obvious? I expect to be treated at least like a human being. And instead they treat me like dirt. “How do you plan on healing?”

I shrug. I guess I will just expect their unjust treatment.

“What if you chose not to expect anything?”

I look up into His kind but mysterious face. “You mean, not to expect them to treat me kindly?”

He nods.

“And not to expect them to treat me painfully?”

He nods again. “You’re expectations are molds you’ve made to cast people in…maybe try expecting nothing.”

I walk to the beach. I am quiet but not in despair. I cannot recast others. I have decided to hold no expectations of them. Not to expect them to reach out , and not to expect them to trompel me. I will not depend on others, but neither will I throw them away to embrace independence.

A friend waves to me from a distant path. My thoughts don’t travel down to what “should be”. I still face fear, but with no resentment. They quickly pass me by, without so much as a casual glance at my bleeding heart. I am effected but not undone. I have not given up on anyone.

Someone dear comes to me with extended arms. At first I wince…and then I remember – no expectations. She is smiling. I want to turn away — she doesn’t care about the bloody heart I hold. But that’s when I notice. In her hand she holds a bleeding heart. I ache for her. I ask. She sits down and I sit next to her and we cry over her bleeding heart. Somehow it washes a little of her blood away and we talk way into the night.

I finally get up to leave. I look around for my heart. Smiling, my friend hands it to me. I hadn’t even noticed that she had taken it. I hug her and start down the path for home. And there in the moonlight I suddenly realize my heart isn’t bleeding. I turn it over to make sure it’s mine. Yes, there are the old scars. But somehow, while I was caring about my friends heart, my own had stopped bleeding.