Wednesday, January 11, 2012


we are often tempted to “explain” suffering in terms of “the will of God.”  not only can this evoke anger and frustration, but also it is false.  “God’s will” is not a label that can be put on unhappy situations.  God wants to bring joy not pain, peace not war, healing not suffering.  therefore, instead of declaring anything and everything to be the will of God, we must be willing to ask ourselves where in the midst of our pains and suffering we can discern the loving presence of God…thus, when we pay careful attention to the loving presence of God, the suffering to which we might be led will never darken our hearts or paralyze our movements.  we will find that we will never be asked to suffer more than we can bear and never be tested beyond our strength.  when we are led by love instead of driven by fear, we can enter the places of the greatest darkness and pain and experience in a unique way the power of God’s care.

consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that testing of your faith produces perseverance. let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
~james 1:2-4~ 

to defeat pain he had to separate it from time
~a soldier of the great war

all revelations come to us in recovery
~sleeping at last~ 

in italy for 30 years under the borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced michelangelo, leonardo da vinci, and the renaissance. in switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? the cuckoo clock."
~the third man~

"we are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. here again we come up against what i have called the “intolerable compliment.” over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. but over the great picture of his life—the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child—he will take endless trouble—and would doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. one can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less." 
~c.s. lewis [aka 'master of metaphor']~

that is why we never give up.  though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  for our present troubles are small and won't last very long. yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. so we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  for the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
~2 corinthians 4:16-18~ 

pain has always been something very hard to rationalize with the concept of a merciful God, which i believe in.  pain of the most painful variety always feels unjust, unwarranted.  if it were the type of suffering that is the consequence of poor choices made, then it is simpler to heal from. but hurt gained for unknown, unjustified reasons leaves a wound that tends to heal slowly, re-open frequently, or in some cases never close up at all.

that being said, i choose to believe that pain has a purpose.  i see suffering, many times, as a the Refiner's fire...just like metal, we must be put through a bit of unpleasant 'heat' and pressure in order to become something pure, beautiful, and reflective of our Creator. the best version of ourselves.

its still hard to understand pain, its purpose.  and when we are in it it is almost impossible to try to see from the perspective of the Almighty...who is not limited by time.  for we are so fixated with time, and the here-and-now...which makes our momentary or longer-term hurts completely consuming, impossible to see around.  it becomes a haze we live each day in because we cannot see the meaning of it, see through it.

the quotes above are things that have played into my ponderings of late regarding pain, and also helped me comprehend a bit of the mysterious harmony of pain and mercy as part of God's plan for our lives.