Simone Weil once said: “There are two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction.” If you are like me, you are ready, willing, and able to sign up for the beauty part right here and right now, but not so sure you are up for the affliction part. I mean, what kind of person would wish, or welcome, pain upon themselves, right?
Somehow we need to get over
the notion that pain is some kind of cosmic accident that is always bad and
should be avoided at all costs. This way
of thinking hinders our growth and maturity in significant ways, because pain always
has intent. God subjected us to
this kind of a life in order that we might be liberated from bondage to
decay and be brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21) Pain has purpose. Somehow it is through affliction that we come
to know real love, and it is through bondage that we come to know true
freedom. God uses our pain and sadness
to deepen and widen us, so that we might be able to receive even more of
him. Thus, avoiding pain is avoiding
God, and embracing pain is embracing what God is trying to do in and then
The crazy thing is that God
actually uses our pain and our unmet longing to arouse and expand us
within. Just listen to the words of Eugene
Peterson: “All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the
world are simply birth pangs. But it is
not only around us; it is within us. The
Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re
also feeling the birth pangs. These
sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any
more than it diminishes a pregnant mother.
We are enlarged in the waiting. We,
of course, don’t see what is enlarging us.
But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our
expectancy.” (Romans 8:22-25, The Message)
So help us, O God, to
stop running. Give us the grace and the
courage to stop trying to avoid and escape pain and suffering and brokenness at
every opportunity. Help us to actually
embrace it, so that we will receive the gifts that it has to offer—becoming more
like you in the process.