THIS is a simple philosophy and possibly with its faults; there are exceptions, ironies, paradoxes, and mysteries all through life.
But the Lord showed me something watching a recent YouTube clip. What I was shown is the untenable anger in a great portion of humanity – those who live completely to satisfy their own foolish desires, and on a continual collision course with authority.
We all battle somewhat, but there is a narcissism in some that proves a point: they have suffered – at the hands of dysfunctional family structures and/or abusive societal contexts – but they have suffered without learning. They have resented their suffering. They have blamed instead of being sustained. They have resisted the world instead of resisting themselves.
They haven’t been shown the ways of Jesus to a life-transforming effect.
The reason there is so much pain in the world is pain is not handled as it should be: honestly, truthfully, humbly, courageously, and as an input for learning. Of course, this is counterintuitive. It makes no sense until we’ve tried it, but it is entirely consistent with the Gospel imperative.
There is nothing courageous about getting angry with others in our pain, but anger, of itself, can be a healthy reaction – because the anger abides as a response to the truth regarding the injustice of the pain. Much pain is not brought on as a consequence of a person’s sin. Much pain is totally illogical.
There is nothing humble about complaining without a sense for wanting to find a way – the right way – through the pain. The person that suffers well journeys courageously, in seeking and searching for an answer to restore their peace, their joy, their hope. They get beyond their complaint. They are never happy complaining; there is something more to be gleaned and learned.
There is nothing truthful or honourable in denying our pain, by either pretending everything’s better than it is or getting angry by many forms of transferring our anger onto others for the things we, internally, are deeply dissatisfied, and even possibly very depressed or anxious, about.
The reason there’s so much pain in the world is there are too many people who have suffered incorrectly. There are not enough models of the true Christian life, yet every modern day hero – and those of history – have applied the Gospel principle to overcome their nemesis. Even within Christianity there are the majority who do not still know how to suffer well. They have taken the easy-hard way; the lazy and unlearning way. The diligent way is patient longsuffering, which leads inevitably to learning and growth.
Learning and growth are the purposes behind pain. All pain can be meaningful, but we should lament that the world does not know how to suffer well – which is to fully rely on God.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.