Monday, April 18, 2011
"Life is Pain"
"Life is pain." - Wesley in the movie "The Princess Bride."
As I begin my day stumbling towards my devotions (I'll get to them after writing) I have a cloud of fears, confusion and pain swirling through me. But hey, it's Monday.
Life as a Christian is no gum-drop-peachy-here-after-fairy-tale at present. My guess is it's not going to be in the future either. After all good fairy-tales point to something deeper than bliss, something deeper than this world can offer. Bad fairy-tales are simply empty promises of worldly pleasures revelled in without restraint.
This pain that resides in me, that resides in everyone, is a catalyst for a life of Godliness. Without it we wouldn't run too or from God. Those of us who run away, the prodigals, are, in a sense, practising a form of Godliness in their running. True they run toward empty promises, but they run with the passionate pain of unfulfillment beating in their chests: their miss-directed God hunger.
Whatever else beats in my chest, like my heart, ha, there is a an ache that beats to be away from pain in this life. For me right now it's the simple pain of waiting: waiting for ministry funding, and the pain spurred on as I wait by fears of inadequacy, irresponsibility and unworthiness. For others it could be a whole painter's pallet of pain - emotional, familial or vocational.
I want to get away from pain. I want the hurt to stop. I want life to be a little easier. Don't you? And here I sit in a coffee shop, surrounded by creature comforts and the most real physical pain I feel is a scrape on my ankle from biking. Do I know real pain?
Many experience deep pain beyond my comprehension. I see it in the mother talking about her prodigal son, stories of friends who have miscarried and now are having health difficulties with their most recent baby. I see it in those who hedge, hide and paint their life with make-up happiness masks.
Pain is everywhere, if we have the courage to look. But God is too. His hand blessing all of life, sustaining it, nurturing it, creating, always creating. And the resurrection whispers of pain bringing joy. Of the deepest pain bringing about the deepest joy. Perhaps God is in the pain as well.
We don't even know what this joy will look like. When I describe it to my kids I do sound like a the Sunday School Parrot. I know a tiny taste of it and for it my taste pallet craves.
To have everything made right. To have everything made well. To hear of no earthquakes, tsunamis, orphans, murders and lying politicians (I had to put this one in now that Trump is intending to run for the Presidency. I should have a kind heart towards Trump, but I'm not there yet in my sanctification. I could say I pity him, but that's not true Christian charity either. I've been vicariously fired over and over again by Trump as I watched "The Apprentice," and I'm having a hard time getting over it.)
But this "making everything right," everything back in right standing with it's Creator, true righteousness in the cosmos, this might be what Paul speaks of as the hope set before us. Creation groans for it. Being with God in the right. Or simply being with God. Everything being with God.
I believe God uses pain to get us to hope. To get us to peer beyond this reality and see the really real, the God reality of goodness and mercy. At least I know this is what he's doing in my life. He doesn't want my hopes set on me, he wants my hope set on him. And, hey, if it hurts to have my head ever tilted heavenward, it's worth a little pain in the neck (sorry I couldn't resist this really lame close).
Note on picture: If you haven't ever seen "The Princess Bride," you really need to.