Endurance of pain

Received a really sad news yesterday. A distant relative of ours passed away the other day. We just attended his daughter’s wedding this Saturday, I shook his hand and uttered ‘Kiong Hee’, the next day he even attended the first birthday of his brother’s grandchild. I was deeply moved by their happiness on that special day despite the trials they had to face. Last week, I just finished reading “Where is God When It Hurts?” and it is something that many would ask in times of need. Philip Yancey said that there are many reactions to suffering. He offered many faces of pain and not feeling it like in the case of leprosy patients (in contrast to what is being shown in the films), and there are other conditions wherein people aren’t able to feel pain that they end up hurting themselves and still oblivious to it. I’m not one to take painkillers when in pain, I try to endure it when I can, but there are different threshold of pain as well as conditions that we are not in control of. The author stressed that pain is good, it signals us to stop what we are doing and pay attention to where the pain is coming from, to attend to our injuries or the source of it. In the midst of the suffering, we don’t know how to comfort people in the way that we could really reach them or hope that they’d experience healing. Because whatever happens we cannot feel for them. But God taught us to start with love and that is what we an offer to people who are experiencing pain. Just be there, be a listener, spare some time, love is the key.

“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels. I, myself, become the wounded person.” – Walt Whitman (Song of Myself)

The author discussed about the frontiers of recovery: fear, helplessness, meaning and hope.

“A wise sufferer will look not inward, but outward. There is no more effective healer than a wounded healer; and in the process the wounded healer’s own scars may fade away.”

“All that the downtrodden can do is go on hoping. After every disappointment they must find fresh reason for hope.”
– Alexander Solzhenistsyn

Where is God when it hurts? We might not directly ask this, but we grumble a lot about many things. Then suddenly, it strikes us. Something happens, and I feel that my worries are so small or that I’m letting that take over much of my time. We suffer in different ways and aspects, it might be physically or psychologically, but we have to overcome our fear and helplessness, gain meaning and hope for this life. At times, the picture is simpler if we don’t focus on just one detail. And then we’ll find that the portrait is bigger than we have imagined. When it is magnified, we get to see a different view.

“He has been there from the beginning, designing a pain system that, even in the midst of a fallen world, still bears the stamp of his genius and equips us for life on this planet.
He transforms pain, using it to teach and strengthen us, if we allow it to turn us toward him.
With great restraint, he watches this rebellious planet live on, in mercy allowing the human project to continue in its self-guided way.
He lets us cry out, like Job, in loud fits of anger against him, blaming him for a world we spoiled.
He allies himself with the poor and suffering, founding a kingdom tilted in their favor. He stoops to conquer.
He promises supernatural help to nourish the spirit, even if our phsyical suffering goes unrelieved.
He has joined us. He has hurt and bled and cried and suffered. He has dignified for all time those who suffer, by sharing their pain.
He is with us now, minsitering to us through his Spirit and through members of his body who are commissioned to bear us up and relieve our suffering for the sake of the head.
He is waiting, gathering the armies of good. One day he will unleash them, and the world will see one last terrifying moment of suffering before the full victory is ushered in. Then, God will create for us a new, incredible world. And pain shall be no more.

I’m thankful for this book, in that I learned a lot about pain. It is something that we avoid dealing with, like ignoring it or escaping it when we can. The threshold of pain…some are unbearable, unthinkable, unbelievable, surprising and would eat us up. It depends on how we respond to it that we won’t get lost in the way and still retain the faith. And every day we are still learning.

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