“Even if it wounds him.”
That was the prayer that I prayed several years ago on behalf of one of my sons who was going through a particularly difficult time in his life.
It was a hard prayer to pray. No good parent wants to invite unnecessary pain into the lives of their children. Pain is a difficult teacher; still and yet, pain is sometimes the most precise, shaping tool in God’s sanctifying toolbelt.
Pain is diagnostic. When allowed its probing investigation, pain brings us to the mirror of self-examination, a closer look inward at the condition of our hearts … the foundation of our thoughts. How we feel, what we believe, and the truth underlying both considerations, … yes, this is the good, diagnostic work behind a painful wounding. To settle for less–to run and hide–would be to stop short of pain’s potential.
Woundings deserve a good look, don’t you think?
In recent days, the church has been wounded … my church … the United Methodist church. We are a global denomination and in this last week, I gathered (via livestream with thousands of others who were tuning in) alongside 864 on-site delegates to watch the already festering wound among us open up in such a way that all who were watching could not escape the pain. In many ways, albeit odd, the severity of the wounding kept us attached to the festering until the clock ran out, the mics were silenced, and the screen went black. And there we were … there I was … released, dismissed into the night with a bleeding heart that needs both a dressing and addressing–a covering and a closer look. I imagine I am not alone.
The wound belongs to all of us. The pain is ours to hold. Perhaps, at the end of the day, this is the one issue upon which we can all agree. This is a collective sorrow.
As an eye-witness to the wounding and now a heart-holder of an aching discomfort that cannot be unseen or easily mended, it only seems best for me to come to the mirror, to allow my very good parent, my Father, to probe the depths of my feelings and the strength of my thinking.
Pain in the hands of a Masterful Surgeon offers cleansing.
Pain in the hands of a Masterful Surgeon offers conviction.
Pain in the hands of a Masterful Surgeon offers clarity.
Pain in the hands of a Masterful Surgeon is, indeed, diagnostic. And therein, friends, lies the rub.
For pain to work its potential, pain must be given over for examination to the only Surgeon who is completely holy and wholly skilled for the job. Not many will be able to arrive at this place of deep trust, of letting go and letting God. But I can go nowhere else because I have learned that God’s hands are the safest place for me to reside. He is my only hope for holiness.
So friends, those whom I know and those who are strangers to me but who have found themselves (like me) entangled within the reach of this tremendous pain, I make an invitation to you even as I am making it to myself. If we want this wounding to matter eternally, if we want it to do more for us other than to momentarily wreck us, then we must surrender our heart-hurts to the nail-scarred hands of the Master Surgeon. This is our first and best step. He is our only way forward.
Let’s not let this be for nothing. Let us, instead, allow this to be a time of deep, soul reflection. In doing so, a better “us” just might emerge.
Even so, I love you deeply. Even so, I pray for you each one God’s …
Peace for the journey,
PS – This blog has always been a safe place for dialogue, prayers, healing, and peace. I welcome your thoughts, but I humbly ask you to not let this be the time for debate. Shalom.