We hide much of our pain, shame, guilt, and brokenness that needs to be brought out into the light.I've been thinking about this the past couple of days and I realize that it's clearly a mis-statement. Some of us respond to pain by hiding it. But a quick tour through the blogosphere reveals that this is not always true. There's plenty of pain out there, and plenty of people willing to put it on display.
It seems that there are a couple of equal and opposite errors in regards to how we process our pain. The first is to hide it. The second is to enshrine it. We can become so attached and defined by what the crap has happened to us that our identity can become wrapped up in our pain. I've been hurt, and I'm angry about it, and you can't tell me that I can't be or shouldn't be.
Our tendency towards either of these errors is probably a combination of temperament, culture and family factors.
Jesus encountered people on both ends of the pain-relating spectrum. One woman was so eager to hide that she quickly changed the subject to a politics. One man was so deeply enmeshed in his pain that when Jesus asked him if he wanted to be made well he couldn't answer him.
It would seem that the answer to the important question of what will we do with our pain in many ways dictates what kind of human being we become.
And the Christian answer, it would seem, is a combination of activities all designed to free us from pain becoming our Lord and Master: prayer--honest prayer before God, sharing appropriately in community, asking and extending forgiveness where it is needed, repentance where we sin in response to our pain, walking in obedience as the doctor's prescription for the healing of our souls. Pain makes for a terrible life-orientation. It's a life barely lived.
It is very popular currently to say that pain and suffering is "God's Problem." Nothing could be further from the truth. Suffering is our problem. But the good news about the Christmas story is that God has made it his problem. He comes to get us in the middle of our pain to free us from our pain having the last word on us. He comes to free us from a life barely lived.
That's good news, but it requires decisions on our part. What will you do with your pain?