Quick question before we start. What would you like to read in February? We’ve got the memoir When I Fell Down by Kay Brunner for January and will be reading Expectations and Burnout in March and April. I was thinking about something light and fun. A novel maybe? Anything you’ve been wanting to read? Or think would be good for a group discussion?
Or does it have to be awkward? Have I just done what comes naturally to most of us? Put pain over there and fun over here, keeping them tidily separate. But life isn’t so tidy, is it?
Frankly, I’d rather park here and talk about birth than turn and lean into the topic of pain. Pain hurts and so often I feel helpless in the face of it, whether my own physical pain or the pain of others. I also feel annoyed and, truth be told, taken advantage of (by God? by the enemy? by just the realities of living in a fallen world? Not sure.) because of the inconvenience of pain and her results. Who likes to have to alter plans and ways I want to do life or spend my time?
After a fairly severe car accident in Beijing years ago the European doctor’s words have stuck with me and stood the test of time and memory. “You haven’t broken anything, but tomorrow you’re going to feel like (colorful language).” Though he used a word I don’t tend to use, I wanted to say, “Thank you.” Thank you for calling it like it is and not down playing what had happened.
In this chapter I appreciated the amount of time Barbara camped on Job. What have you found helpful or confusing in Job or her take on Job and God?
I starred where Barbara distinguished between pain and suffering. “Pain originates in the body. Pain happens in the flesh. Suffering, on the other hand, happens in the mind. The mind decides what pain means and whether it is deserved. the mind notices who comes to visit and who does not. The mind remembers how good things used to be and are not likely to be again. The mind makes judgments, measures loss, takes blame, and assigns guilt.”
Before you went to the field or during your orientation to the field, how much time was invested in developing or exploring your theology of suffering? Based on your experiences (good, bad, ugly, all welcome!) what suggestions do you have? We can begin to be the change we want to see happen.
Maybe more importantly to pre-field orientation is now, where you are, on the field or on home assignment or wherever. How has what you’ve experienced informed and shaped your understanding and relationship with suffering?
This is hard for me to engage with right now. A person I love got shocking news Friday and instead of their suffering being relieved, it is worse then we ever imagined. I was standing in a store when the text came and I started to shake. And then cry. And then reach out to people for support and prayer.
“There will always be people who run from every kind of pain and suffering, just as there will always be religions that promise to put them to sleep. For those willing to stay awake, pain remains a reliable altar in the world, a place to discover that life can be as full of meaning as it is of hurt. The two have never canceled each other out and I doubt they ever will, at least not until each of us- or all of us together — find the way through.”
Instead of running from it, let’s run to each other. I have a lot to say on pain and suffering :), but I’d like to talk with you about it. How does pain and suffering interact with your ability to trust God, others, and yourself? When you were a kid could you cry when you were hurt? What kind of messages did you get about pain and suffering and how did they prepare you for adulthood and the field?
Grab a cup and let’s chat. I enjoy these talks, thanks for commenting :),
P.S. Next week we’ll looking at the Practice of Being Present to God
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