If we don’t feel pain, we run the risk of being unfeeling, insensitive, cold & apathetic. But for the people who live with chronic pain, feeling pain isn’t good. It’s also difficult to see people who are in pain. So what do we do with pain? Anesthetizing pain with entertainment, booze, exercise & other stuff turns out to be a very destructive way to cope w pain. So rather than anesthetize pain or run from it, let’s consider that we can ask Jesus to take away the pain & help us know Him better through the pain & suffering. Consider what Paul says in Phil 3:10-11, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
skme of the greatest potential for intimacy can happen through the shared experiences of pain & suffering. Even though we don’t like the idea, it’s true nonetheless. Think Gethsemane. Pray when there’s pain & watch what God does.
In Bangledesh today, I met a group of floating sexworkers, in contrast to the brothel sexworkers I visited yesterday. Sometimes I think it’s human nature to quantify or qualify bad, worse & worst. So we think that one kind or quantity of suffering is worse than another. I’m not sure that I think this entirely accurate. Suffering hurts, full stop.
Can we find it in our hearts to express compassion regardless of who is suffering or how much is being suffered?
I hugged each woman that I met this afternoon deeply & wholly, feeling that I wanted more love to pour through me for them. None of these experiences are easy to process but the worst thing for me that could happen would be to ignore my feelings & disregard the eyes with whom I met with deep affection & connection.
Nothing seems to repel us like suffering. Indeed, if we had our way, we’d entirely skip the whole crucifixion thing & leap straight to resurrection.
Maybe that’s why Peter, James & John slept in Gethsemane when Jesus told them to watch & pray, while He travailed in prayer with sweat like drops of blood. I would likely chose to sleep as well rather than watch my Invincible Hero suffer & appear frail & unraveled.
But here’s the best kept secret: there’s tremendous intimacy potential in sharing with suffering. While we follow & admire strength, nothing connects us with someone more than seeing & even sharing in weakness & pain. Some of my best friends have been through the most abysmal experiences with me – we’ve shared in suffering & the bond between us from those experiences has been immensely strengthened.
In Holy Week, today is Maunday Thursday. This is the day when Jesus shared the last supper with His disciples, washed their feet & travailed in Gethsemane. Jesus understands suffering & wants to connect deeply with us, not only in resurrection life, but also in struggles & suffering – the fellowship of suffering: Philippians 3:10-11
I’ve tried a few times today to write this blog & found myself relatively speechless – an unusual experience for sure ,)
Obviously, something happened because I’m writing now. Actually, nothing happened, except that I remembered Job’s friends. Whenever I read this book, I’m not just a little disappointed or pt off with his buddies. Their words seem harsh, condemning & altogether insensitive. Indeed, the last verse of Job 2 seems to be the high point of their contribution to consoling Job. In this verse it says, “Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”
Sometimes the best thing we can do for a friend who is suffering is just to quietly be present with them. Sometimes our words can be unhelpful, particularly when we don’t know what to say. Sometimes, silence is golden 🙂
In many ways, gory seems to be the antonym of glory and I don’t commonly associate these words together besides the rhyming sound they make. But there’s a stark and startling place where these words converge into one place and that would be Jesus when He was crucified.
If you saw the movie by Mel Gibson, “The Passion of the Christ”, it showed with disturbing clarity the gory nature of Jesus’ death on the cross. I’ll never forget how deeply moved I was to the core of my soul when I saw this movie the first time. As I watched, I found myself repeatedly thinking, “please stop, that’s enough!” And at the end of the movie, I was entirely unraveled because I couldn’t escape the reality that Jesus endured this excrutiating experience entirely on the pure motivation of genuine love, full stop.
Jesus was glorified in the gory mess of human suffering, sin and sacrifice. And this continues to give me the assurance that Jesus can redeem human gore and transform it into divine glory, a truth that we would be wise to ponder throughout this weekend 🙂
“Eat My flesh and drink My blood.” As we come into the Easter season (a little early for my Orthodox friends), we are often reminded of these words of Jesus at the Last Supper.
This statement about eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood has raised many questions over the centuries:
Was Jesus anti-vegan or opposed to a vegetarian lifestyle?
Was this Jesus’ way of promoting a gluten-free lifestyle, emphasizing the consumption of meat & blood?
Was Jesus advocating a type of divine cannibalism?
As you read these questions & probably think of a few more, please don’t think that I’ve suddenly lost the plot & become obsessed with some new type of eating lifestyle. My goal with this post is to raise your awareness that we are coming into Holy Week, when we celebrate Jesus’ death & resurrection, around Jesus’ central words at the Last Supper, with His closest followers.
From my point of veiw, Jesus’ words about eating His flesh & drinking His blood show us in a really powerful way that Jesus love for us runs so deep that He invites us to not only revel in His strength & resurrection, but also to fellowship with Him in His suffering, pain & death – Phil 3:10. Let’s fully enjoy all of Who Jesus is during this Easter season!