There are days when I wake up and it is hard just to get out of bed. Do you ever feel that way? And I don’t mean just because you feel lazy, but legitimately, it is labor intensive to get out of bed. Some people may relate in different ways. We all have different reasons whether they be emotional, psychological, physical, mental or spiritual. If we examine and know ourselves, we know that life at various times brings pain, and we long for a solution.
For me, I have a combination of all these dimensions from time to time. Some days, I will be mentally exhausted, emotionally drained or spiritually low. Today, the pain has manifested physically. Over the past week I have been dealing with crippling pain in my elbow. Last night, the pain was so intense that it was difficult to make the drive home. At various times I have had leg pain, arm pain, back pain, that have knocked me out from doing stuff. Basically, any day I can wake up and something can be wrong. It is always present and some days are worse than others. There are no warning signs and very little reasoning behind it.
When one of these days comes, every time I fear, “Is this going to be the time when I will no longer be able to live independently.” That is a real fear for me and a constant unknown. For those that don’t know I was born with a degenerative bone disorder that has been a constant source of pain. It has kept me from being of normal size, kept me from doing sports, kept me from dating. I have been blessed with many things in life, but my experience has been without those adventures. The joys withheld produce difficulties beyond physical pain and extend into other aspects of life as well.
I am left,
with a deep longing
and a question…
Where do we go when pain grows astounding?
Pain is not something foreign to any of us. In the words of Wesley from the Princess Bride, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” Having pain and being in this world are part of life and no one or thing is able to escape it. As hard as we have tried the great American dream has been tried and tested and has been found wanting. Despite our pursuit of happiness, we are not happy; despite our plenty, we are not filled; despite our armies, we are not secure. We consume and consume from limited resources all the while believing that our suffering will somehow diminish. Instead, we find that our attempts to curb our suffering do not satiate and only result in more pain for us and for those around us.
This is dark stuff. I won’t try to hide it or sugar coat it… and I don’t think that I should. Steve Brown says, “There is a direct correlation between most Christian depression and an inappropriate effort to avoid the dark side of the Christian faith.” Ironic and disarming. When I first heard this I wanted to protest but no arguments could be said against it.
I took an inventory of my life.
When I run from the pain, when I try to escape it, it redoubles and overwhelms.
However, I have found as a theme and constant comfort that when I press into pain I receive joy.
I wrote this poem this morning as I was meditating on these things:
Where is The Lord when pain grows astounding?
When the road is treacherous, where has he gone?
For you feel far from me, yet closer than my skin.
Have mercy on me o God,
For times when I am ungrateful.
Have patience with me o God,
When I spit and curse your name.
How easily I forget that you are faithful
How easily I forget that you are true
For every day that the sun rises and sets
Is a day for me to bring you glory
Who am I that you owe anything?
What should I expect from a Thing so grand?
You have never promised me honor,
You have never said my name will last.
And yet, you are the God of mercy everlasting
For you have given Christ who overcomes the past.
Indeed, You are the God of pain astounding,
Redeem my soul, transform my heart, hold me fast.
I have found that when I press into the pain, when I push where it hurts, when I take off my mask before Jesus and look at his wounded face, I experience joy and together we laugh. Malcolm Muggeridge a famous British personality wrote “I can say that I never knew what joy was like until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden to Jesus.”
I do not understand it, I cannot explain why, but when I live with this understanding, I become more satisfied, more grateful, more hopeful and more engaged with life than before. From this post, some might express concern for my well being.
I assure you:
I have never laughed more
than I do right now.
And this is all because I have encountered the healing from my Father who loves me, my Brother who died for me, and the Spirit who ministers to me.
Steve Brown “Joy in the Mourning” August 4th, 2013, Perimeter Church.