Don't Run From Pain
Written by Mary Miller | ChattHOP Intern
As the last class of the semester came to an end, my professor made some closing remarks that will stick with me forever. We had spent months studying the relationships between women, art, and culture. Huge amounts of brokenness had been dredged up through class conversations and assigned readings; we learned about oppression and objectification of the female, perversion, devaluation, issues of the body, gender, and identity.
Early in the semester, we realized that the issues that face many of our generation are deep-rooted, and thousands throughout the years have suffered as a result. Lest you think I’m about to write a feminist blog post, don’t worry, my words have a different point. As most of the class was female, our professor knew that we would be tempted to carry anger and bitterness out of the classroom.
She closed the class with these words: “I don’t want you to become bitter or angry. When you think about this brokenness, I want you to realize how big your Jesus is; one day He will undo all of this.”
Pain and suffering have a different meaning when we view them through the lens of God’s final undoing of all that has gone terribly wrong in our world.
David marveled at the importance of our tears to God in Psalm 56:8.
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (emphasis mine).
Take a moment to meditate on the italicized words. Have you ever wondered at the truth that every single tear is precious to God? I like to think that when He catches every one, He takes note of exactly what caused that tear to be produced so that He can one day show the one who weeps exactly how that pain is redeemed. He cares so much more than we often give ourselves permission to believe.
In a day when media bombards us with news of unbelievable evils happening in our world, we can so easily choose to numb ourselves to pain. The depth of pain and trauma is simply too much to carry back into our everyday routines.
Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly (go read it if you haven’t!), gave a TED talk on the power of vulnerability. In this talk, she mentioned research that shows that a person cannot selectively numb emotion. If we numb our ability to feel pain, we will also numb our ability to feel joy. The habits we form to cope with trauma and broken relationships may get us by, but they will cause us to miss out on so much of life.
When we choose not to understand the depths of the pain in this world, we cannot fully appreciate how huge God’s redemption will be.
Later in the Psalms, David draws an analogy between the act of weeping and the act of sowing seed.
“Those who sow in tears shall reap in songs of joy.” Psalm 126:5
When a farmer sows a seed into the ground, the depth at which that seed comes to rest is the depth from which new life bursts forth and grows through the ground. The deep, dark soil is transformed as a green shoot fights its way through to the surface.
In your mind, imagine a seed being planted into the ground, and then visualize a tear in its place. Just as the depth at which a seed is planted is the depth from which life grows, so the depth of our tear-producing pain is the same depth from which redemption will spring forth.
The next time you are faced with a painful situation, I want to challenge you to something. Permit yourself to enter into that moment. Instead of running away, let yourself experience the feelings that come.
Mark the depth of the pain you feel, and then remember that from that very same place will come redemption, healing, and everlasting joy.