For the past few days I’ve contemplated suffering. Not the pain in and of itself, but rather what role pain plays in my life – my decisions, ideas, plans, relationships, etc. As I move through each day in the aftermath of Don’s passing, the pain of missing him moves with me. It changes me.
I read somewhere that pain is what changes us. We are (generally speaking) creatures who like comfort and take the path of least resistance. The article I read posited that pain was the only catalyst for true and lasting change in our person. I think that might be true. In particular – and my own personal experience – I think that pain is the catalyst for changing how we view the world.
Before God saved me, I reacted to pain and suffering in my life with rage against Him. And fueled by that rage, I would vow not to break. I was as ridiculous and insane as the Black Knight in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. “Ha, God! It’s only a flesh wound! I’ll bite your legs off!” I chose defiance and bitterness with God as my reaction to pain and it changed the way I saw everything. I viewed people cynically and with suspicion – everything was broken and everyone had an angle. My vision dimmed and blurred until I saw nothing and no one and didn’t even realize I had become blind.
Now that I’m His, I react differently to suffering. I let the pain break me, and I bring Him my brokenness and say “Help me. I can’t bear it and I can’t fix it and I hurt.” I let my Father hold me, and He lets me cry in His arms. Then the Comforter comes and dries my eyes. When I open them, I find that I see a little clearer than I did the day before. I see Jesus. I see Him in other people. I see the Father’s hand and heart in the world around me. I choose to thank Him and praise Him for allowing the pain that breaks me. And I feel the healing of my broken heart take place – one piece at a time, one day at a time.
The pain I feel now is sharper than any before, but so is my vision. I see more clearly every day that while my world is dimmer without Don, my God shines brighter all the time.