Pain power, number two.
Welcome to Welling for Your Spiritual Health and Growth.
And since this is a new year, it comes with new year greetings and blessings as well along with these wellings. And hope it’s going to be a great new year. Like you, over the last two years, I’ve been on many a Zoom call, speaking to colleagues from all over the world.
When I usually ask about how are you doing, is the connection good? Can everybody see me all right? And the English speaker says, yes, sir. And the Spanish speaker says, “Si, Senor!” the French speaker says “Oui Monsieur”
The Hebrew speaker says “כן אדוני”
The German speakers says “Jawohl”
In one of these calls, a friend prayed this way. She used the word paining as a verb, that there’s a paining in the world. I liked that comment because it got my attention. There’s a paining in the world. It seemed like something is paining the world.
You’ve experienced it. I’ve experienced it. We don’t know if the pandemic is going to be endemic, if this is going to be the lot and the future of the world, or the world is going to be continuously pained. Life is painful.
Our series is called pain power, that pain points are transformed and translated into power points. The last time we talked about the benefits of pain as a clarifier. Today we speak about pain as a connector, pain connects. A connector brings two things, many things together, whether it’s ideas, people, events.
Sometimes these have to be held in tension and all the time in position. That’s what pain does to us. It connects me and connects you to our limitations. It reminds us that, by definition, human beings are limited. We’re limited in our monetary resources in early life, to our time resources in middle life, and energy resources in our elite life.
We’re limited. Pain connects us to our limitations, as frail. All flesh is like grass, it’s the standard treatment of the Bible, both in the Old and the New Testament. So much so, Johannes Brahms’ second movement, which was featured by the BBC documentary on the Nazis, who were once so great and mighty and killed millions of people, who no longer exist. They too were frail, even though they thought they were mighty.
Brahms’ second movement, sometimes called a German requiem, says, all flesh is as grass.
Somebody said it’s not just a German requiem, it is a human requiem, isn’t it? We are frail. We are finite. Last night, a very dear friend died even as I was preparing this talk. She was proof of it.
Why is it that, even though we anticipate death all along, when it really happens, we are surprised? Because death is an enemy. Death was not supposed to be our future and our destiny. It’s an intruder. Death still bites. Pain connects us to our limitations, frailty and finitude. But also life is fickle.
You can’t predict tomorrow. I can’t predict later today. I can prepare for it. I can project. But I really don’t know. The world did not expect the last two years. We were hit, every layer of life and reality.
Philosophies which says that everything is impermanent, that everything is in flux, there are exceptions to their own principle, because that principle is not in flux. You do not want to hold that as true. Everything is not in flux, because underneath the impermanence and the flux, there is a reality to whom we can connect because of pain.
So pain connects us to ourselves and human limitations. Pain also connects us to others who are feeling pain, isn’t it, to fellow sufferers. Entire theologies and thoughts are built on this given, that all humanity is suffering. They try to distinguish between sufferings or problems and suffering as a reality.
We never want to run to pain as though, because of its cathartic effect, there’s some benefit. But we don’t want to run away from pain. You’ll fall into great denial.
If there’s a problem, we solve it. If it’s a reality, we work around it. Pain connects us to other sufferers and helps us to help others accept pain when it’s a problem to find solutions but when it’s a reality, to embrace it and see what can be a benefit from it.
So don’t go around looking for suffering. Don’t run away from it. We suffer with others. That’s the actual meaning of the word compassion, to suffer with. Pain connects us.
By the way, this is not a remote connection, a socially distanced connection, a virtual connection. It is a face-to-face, life-on-life connection, but not before you’ve understood it yourself. Can you experientially give others wisdom?
That’s what happens to the God we have embraced, the God of pain who experienced it himself. Didn’t sit in his heavens, virtually, remotely, and give us principles. He entered pain and answered the question of pain and gives us now the strength of victory over pain, so that pain will connect us to victory.
That’s the biography of the Lord Jesus it’s also the biography of his disciples. It’s also the biography of people who have served him well. Somehow, we will experience pain. But we can move through it in His power.
One such biography is found in the Psalms. I want you to stay in the Psalms when it comes to pain. It’s the pain journal of the Bible. I remember when I was crushed and tenderized, a couple of verses stood out to me and grabbed my heart. It comes at the end of Psalm 27, which begins with, the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? And then it says at the very end, I would have despaired unless I believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Pain causes us to despair. It connects us to despair. But it can also connect us to courage. The latter part of the Psalm says, wait, wait, and God’s courage be strong. God’s courage will be yours. God’s victory will be yours. God’s power will be yours.
Pain points are translated and transformed into power points. When pain connects us not only with our limitations and others who are suffering but with a God who suffered and conquered pain and gives you not only perspective but his power made perfect in our weakness.