“The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering but a supernatural use for it” (Simone Weil, philosopher). Pain is an incredible tool in the hand of God.
Pain produces patient endurance (II Cor. 1:6). It produces a harvest of righteousness (Heb. 12:11). Pain works for our good (Rom. 8:28). And it brings the Lord near (Ps. 34:18).
But it occurred to me on Sunday that there is another great value to pain. Pain creates space in which the Lord can work.
Most of us in South County live incredibly busy lives. We fill our minutes, days and hours with STUFF. Admittedly, much of the STUFF in and of itself, has value. But when it is piled on top of fifty thousand other good things, it strangulates us. And the first thing to go is the opportunity or space for thinking and feeling.
We are so busy with the doing, that we never leave room for the randomness of thought or the wash of an unstructured set of emotions.
A friend and I were laughing a few days ago about the nasty habit of bringing our cell phones with us into the restroom. We are so afraid to miss out on anything, that we haul that little computer everywhere.
That kind of overcrowded life is not contemplative. It does not mull over truth or consider carefully the mysteries outlined in scripture. We just don’t allow ourselves to feel deeply, or it may hurt.
But there’s the rub. We need that space to think and feel. We need those opportunities to just be in the moment and reflect. We need space to meet with the triune God without an agenda or prayer list.
And that’s where pain can be a great blessing. Pain pauses things. We stop when we hurt. The usual routines are set aside if we have a physical issue. Work is missed. Play is set aside. Others haul our kids around while we sit and suffer.
That space can be an incredible blessing. Those hours or days or even months of unrelenting pain can create opportunities to do NOTHING but consider Him who made all things. And as we consider Him, we are drawn into an amazing relationship that transcends suffering.
Those wonderful opportunities may be fleeting and frankly when I am hurting, I am glad they are fleeting. But at least the discomfort made a way for a moment or two of intense fellowship with the One who knows us best. That space is precious.