There is too much pain in this world. There will be people reading this who are in the depths of pain right now, those who have felt it deeply and who are learning to live with it, those who have experienced it a long time ago and have come out the other side and those who have never really felt much deep pain. Of course there are levels of it, and really we shouldn’t compare pain, there are stories behind every situation and the people who know those stories intimately.
Pain is an unbearably powerful source. It takes your breath away. When we found out our third baby had died I walked out of the hospital and almost collapsed under the weight of the pain. I felt like I was having some kind of heart attack because there was a physical pain in my heart and as the pain anchored itself in me, I dragged it around for months desperate to feel light again.
During this time, my mum gave me a quote. It says,
“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” Aeschylus.
No-one would ever choose pain. Sometimes people make choices that cause deep pain, but they would never choose the pain. It is against our will, but even then comes wisdom to us if we let it. Pain is powerful but so is wisdom.
For me wisdom comes through a whisper from God. In the midst of the grief, anger, disappointment, anxiety and noise, is a quiet voice that says, “What are you going to do now?” This voice can be silenced easily, drowned out by hurt and fear, but if you listen, really listen, you can hear hope, love, peace, and joy. And if you wait and learn, there is uncontrollable power: power that undermines the darkness and brings light to someone just when they need it most.
Our response gives ‘power’ permission to be expressed. You can choose to do nothing, to move on from your pain and forget how others are still suffering but if you let the pain in your story change your response to others you open the door for the power of God to invade their lives and in fact yours too. If you see a situation unfolding that you can relate to in some way, you have power to lighten someone else’s experience. A kind word is powerful. An acknowledgement that hearing good news might be a difficult reminder for someone who has lived through the opposite outcome or lost something that has been freely given to someone else. A text that says, ‘that must be hard for you, we remember’ removes the isolation surrounding pain. A gesture of love says ‘you are not on your own’. Isolation is undone by love. Fear and anxiety is disempowered by a voice of hope. Wisdom shouts loudly at ignorance and for the one who is suffering, it matters. It matters that you remember how you felt in ‘that’ situation. It matters that you don’t forget the things that hurt you in order that you can help protect others from the same feelings. Our stories are a way of unlocking power if we share them and go back in to them in order to lighten someone’s load.
The resurrection says ‘even when the worst happens, you can get up’ and Jesus walks into our pain with hope, peace, love and light. Let’s be people who do the same, who overthrow the things that can destroy us by acknowledging the power of solidarity, seeking it out and expressing it whenever we need to.