I don’t like pain. It makes me grumpy, distracted, and it messes up my plans. But pain is in my life, in all of our lives, because sin is in our lives. Not the “naughtiness” idea of sin, but rather the rejection, the disdain, the spurning of the pure, free, brilliant life offered by God.
I want to avoid (ideally, eliminate) my pain and suffering, so I seek and pursue what, in this world, appears to offer the opposite – though I’ll settle for neutral if I can get it. All the while, the one who conceived of my heart and entire being – who gave everything and suffered more than I am capable of fully understanding to rescue me from the doom I ignored – he calls to me, draws me into his strong arms to rest and be restored. He calls out for me to follow him, to walk with him, to learn to see reality without running away, to enjoy his love, and to love him. Painlessness is not part of the invitation but the promised reality when this world is in my past; in fact, I’m warned there are unavoidable agonies ahead.
It’s a little bit like physical therapy. If you’ve ever had the experience, pain from therapeutic routines can rival the pain of the injury that made them necessary. Some might even say they are worse since they continue on excruciatingly for minutes or hours. Still, there is no compromise or easier alternative route; the truth is, healing hurts. As unpleasant and merciless as physical therapy feels, it is the only real path to restoring the injured part of the body.
Jesus is all about restoring me, undoing the damage that’s been done to his creation. While I walk with him, he sets about removing the poisonous slivers in my mind and soul that have accumulated over the years, carving away disease and healing me. And when I cringe and grit my teeth and cry out at the deep cuts from his hand, pleading with him to end it, to deliver me from the pain, he weeps and tenderly sings his love while he kisses my wounds. In time, the dark squall of loss and suffering begins to recede, and still I hear his intimate words and feel his heartbeat. He stays, holding me as light returns, and I can finally see that he truly is raising me to life.