A month ago when I blogged on the “Will of God” I began with just a small insight to some of my thoughts on pain and suffering, because it was a relevant topic that I was researching a lot about, in order to write certain chapters in the book. Little did I know though, that this issue would expand much more in my life and would force me to evaluate and look at my life in certain regards I had neglected for so long.

Over the last few months something has opened up inside of me, almost in a freeing sense, allowing me to see how my fear of pain has held me back from enjoying certain aspects of life. Because I have been hurt or burned in certain past experiences, it has made me reluctant to get involved again with those types of people, relationships or even certain friendships. This was because I was scared to get hurt again. So the more I tried to change this area of my live and take down the walls created by fear, the more stuff started to surface. Some of you know more of my past experiences than others, but this extends not just to past relationships I suffered pain from, but to the investing group I was a part of that got burned to friendships that have really hurt me. But, in light of all this, I have seen that the pain has caused me to be more sensitive to these areas and create a defense mechanism in order to protect myself against further pain. I think the key thing I have learned in all of this is to understand how as humans we don’t expose ourselves to the possibility and chance of experience and love, for fear of pain. So as I look over my last few years, it is sometimes a dark experience to see all the times I held back in friendships and relationships, because I feared getting hurt. The upside though, is that this understanding and awareness has really been a freeing experience. No longer do I fear pain, because I understand the pain comes from something so good and so wonderful. Let me explain, this is a few thoughts from a recent journal entry.

Pain and Suffering – Life is full of pain and hurt; it is unavoidable. But that pain can mature you into a man, if you let it. Too often I have just covered it up and turned to things that would numb its existence. Who wants to feel pain? But that is not why pain exists. The happiness we experience now, will be the pain we feel then, in the future. We feel pain over a lost one, because of the memorable moments with them. Without these moments much of the pain would be negated. But this is all dependent upon a choice. Will I chose to fell the pain. If I chose to process it and let it run its due course as I walk in full awareness of it, it will refine me. This suffering is a refining process. Unfortunately, too often I have shied from my pain, putting up walls and barriers in order to eradicate it from my life. In the process it has squelched vulnerability, transparency and love. I have put up safety nets to hold others out, therefore minimizing the chance of pain. But this is not what God wants. Pain and suffering show us the good, the reasons and the purpose. CS Lewis said “We love to know we are not alone.” In my immaturity I chose safety, but I must learn to choose suffering instead. As I reflect on my life I can see how unprocessed pain, I was unaware of, has held me back in the fear of pain. I feel in previous years I have missed out on much, because of my safety nets. But it is clear the refinement of suffering has its redemption. A friend of mine once wrote – “The healing can not begin until our waters are disturbed.”

In regards to that, I am ready for my waters to be disturbed and my life to be interrupted.

Laslty, one of my favorite authors, Henry Nouwen wrote – “Your pain, deep as it is, is connected with specific circumstances. You do not suffer in the abstract. You suffer because someone hurts you at a specific time and in a specific place. Your feelings of abandonment, rejection and uselessness are rooted in the most concrete events. In this way all suffering is unique. This is eminently true of Jesus. His disciples left him, Pilate condemned him, Roman soldiers tortured and crucified him.
Still as long as you keep pointing to the specifics you will miss the full meaning of your pain. You will deceive yourself into believing that if the people, circumstances and events had been different your pain would not exist. This might be partly true, but the deeper truth is that the situation which brought about my pain was simply the form in which I came in touch with the human condition of suffering. My pain is the concrete way in which I participate in the pain of humanity.
Paradoxically therefore, healing means moving from my pain to the pain. When I keep focusing on the specific circumstances of my pain I easily become angry, resentful and even vindictive. I am inclined to do something about the externals of my pain in order to relieve it. But real healing comes from realising that my own particular pain is a share in humanity’s pain. This realisation allows me to forgive my enemies and enter into a true compassionate life.
Jesus’ suffering, concrete as it was, was the suffering of all humanity. His pain was the pain.
Every time I shift the my attention away from the external situation that caused my pain and focus on the pain of humanity in which I participate, my suffering becomes easier to bear. It becomes a light burden and an easy yoke. Once I discover that I am called to live in solidarity with the hungry, the homeless, the prisoners, the refugees, the sick, and the dying, my very personal pain begins to be converted into the pain and I find new strength to live it. Herein lies the hope of all Christians”