Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Pain was never meant to be a part of our lives. Such a statement feels a bit obvious when we find it difficult to cope with the depths of our sorrows. For all that we’ve known, we can still find ourselves stumbling upon unexpected situations. Although we try to identify with each other during the dark times, our journeys still take us to differing places. You see, pain is not a monolith, and our darkest hours can be quite exclusive to our own experiences. In times of plenty, we might find it easier to judge the journey of others, but we should be more concerned about what lies within. Each of us has parts that are unresolved and in desperate need of healing. Once we are able to face our own humanity and flaws, we’ll better respect this one simple truth – we all know pain.
Now, there are some of us that acknowledge this, yet feel the need to get into pain comparisons. We want to know whose trauma is “greater” or whose ability to overcome is “better”. This is of no use. It solves nothing other than stroking our own egos, which causes us to drift a bit further away from Christ. There are also those of us who see the sorrow in others, and simply expect for them to move on based on our timing and expectations. We fail to find compassion for those who are just too stuck or moving too slowly through the phases of their own grief. Even for those we love the most, we can’t always grasp the depths of their sorrow. It’s true that we all know pain, but pain has levels – and sometimes, we’re introduced to new ones.
To Journey Alone
When I think Biblically about the concept of levels, I think about the crucifixion of Christ. While on Earth, Christ knew sorrow. Yet when He arrived to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus experienced an unmatched level of pain and mourning. He was called to a role, only for Him – to be the perfect sacrifice to take away the sins of this world. Such a situation was not one for which the disciples, nor we, could show empathy. It wasn’t ours to overcome. Yet this concept does not differ by much today. Pain is not always as shared of an experience as we would like to make it. Instead, it can be quite lonely. You’ll try to find the words to express yourself, but they just won’t come. They can’t.
And that’s not to say that we can’t be supported, but it’s important to understand that some of us may come to mountains that those around us have never climbed. Even with the greatest amount of love surrounding us, we still will journey alone. Our grief and pain may be lessened, but we take those steps knowing that it remains ours to carry. In scripture we find this concept in Galatians 6:1-5. We are called to support one another. Nevertheless, God still expects us to bear our own load. We won’t always understand what other people are going through, and we won’t always be understood. That outcome, however, should not stop us from progressing. We must move forward, so that we are able to overcome.
Pain Must Be Addressed
When we see or experience pain, it’s easy to want others or ourselves to move on. In order for that action to take place, however, the pain must be addressed. And to address it, pain must first be expressed. If we look to scripture, we find the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead in John 11. During the beginning of the story, Jesus hears that Lazarus is sick and says this in verse 4: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead. Even so, when He arrived and saw Mary and the others weeping as He was brought to Lazarus’ grave, the scriptures state that Jesus wept. He still responded to that sorrow that was, although He knew glory was coming.
Today, we are expected to do the same – to respond to what is, while still believing that joy is achievable. Pain is not a monolith, and neither is healing. Our situations are different, so the timing, joy, and peace found will also be different. While coping, we should allow ourselves the freedom to express our pain in ways that are healthy, regardless of the judgement of others. On the other hand, we should respect the process of others as long as it’s not harmful or hurtful. Pain will always find a way to make it back out, so it’s better for us to have control over that output than to let the pain have control over us.
Pain Must Be Resolved
Once we face our pain, we must resolve it. To do this, we often look for closure. The book of Jonah, however, cautions us that sometimes the story stops before we want it to finish. Sometimes, we have to make do with what we have. When we tie resolution to endings, we’re left waiting and hoping, while feeling unsettled in the in-between. If we aren’t careful, the unknown will consume us. We’ll go from feeling secure to feeling completely undone. How then, do we emotionally prepare for the unexpected? We can’t. We can, however, build up our faith so that when needed, we’ll reach for healing. We’ll ask – what are the lessons to be learned? How do I move now? How do I place my trust in God when self is filled with such sorrow and fear?
darkness vs. light
Remember, darkness prefers for us to remain unresolved so that we choose living in fear, as opposed to living in God’s light. Yet one of the greatest gifts God gives us is that we can achieve healing in the midst of darkness. We don’t have to arrive at the end to find resolution; the strongest resolve comes when we find it in the midst of our storms. Pain changes us, but it doesn’t have to stop us.
Jesus taught us this lesson when He went through with the crucifixion. He knew of the pain that was coming, but went forward anyway. He even chose to keep His scars, serving as a reminder to us that we must submit to God’s will, no matter the pain involved. We can still achieve, even though darkness tries to convince us otherwise. With Christ, we overcome, no matter the level or the predicament. We may not find comfort in the solace of others, but we will with God. His consistency and love are built to carry us through this journey we call life. Pain is not a monolith. We won’t always be understood by others, but there is always gratitude to be found in knowing that we’ll always be understood by God.
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