I have experienced two sides to pain. There’s the pain you feel in your body from cancer, a migraine, pneumonia, or injuries from a car accident. These are stabbing, achy, stomach-churning pains, but there’s another kind of pain. It’s the pain you can’t point to on your body, but if you had to choose a place you’d point to your heart–but really it’s your whole being. It’s the pain of seeing those you love hurting.
I’m watching one of my friends hurting, and the worst part is to see him making it harder on himself. He is often choosing to look at his circumstances negatively, which makes him angry and depressed. He has days he’d like to give up on all he once put faith and value in, and it’s hard for him listen to those close to him remind him of the truth. He’s losing the strong conviction he once had, and the love of life that so marked him only a few months ago. I pray that through his pain he’ll remain steadfast to what his heart knows to be the truth and that he’ll cry for help to his Savior who loves him.
I asked him this evening if he’s found any enjoyment at all in the changes the accident has brought to his life (hoping to cause him to look for the good). I asked specifically if he’s enjoyed living slower, in a more day-to-day kind of way. He was pretty quiet for a little bit, and then said he hadn’t really thought about it that way. Mostly no, he’s just frustrated because he knows what he used to be capable of and he’s comparing himself to that now. He can see how it is nice living more in-the-moment than he used to though. I think living a little slower is good for him. He used to be such a lively, energetic, life-of-the-party young man—and there’s so much good in that lifestyle sometimes, but I’m hoping for this time to teach him some beautiful qualities of a quiet life. Maybe through his pain he’ll learn peace.
I hope he holds onto what it feels like to go through what he’s going through, as if he’s someone else looking in on his life so that he’s able to relate to others in the future when they’re hurting. If he’s so caught up in his frustration now, he will most likely remember little but his anger later. He needs to focus on the good now, to make not only his life better, but to know how to encourage and help others when the time comes for him to be on the other side of the pain. Maybe through his pain then he’ll also learn a deeper kind of patience and understanding for life.
I pray he keeps heart, remaining steadfast to Christ–allowing his suffering to development his character and his relationship with Jesus. Jesus does use trials in our lives to bring about our good character and to refine our faith.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. –James 1:2-4
So we do no lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the thing that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. –2 Corinthians 8:7
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.
(Isaiah 48:10-11 ESV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV)