“Pain demands to be felt.” –John Green
“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.” –Chuck Palahniuk
“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” –JK Rowling
Pain is inescapable. Grief is unavoidable. Loneliness, where the echoes of both pain and grief resound against empty walls, is inevitable. The expressions of these feelings are even more hard to understand–likely because pain is like anger in that it drowns out any other voice but its own.
Not only is pain inevitable and complex, but it is defining. People remember their scars, wearing them like tattoos on their arms for all the world to see. Their eyes betray their demons; even when there are no physical manifestations of pain, the signs are all too common. And it is widespread, whether the pain-bearer wears a scowl or a fake smile or tries to hide the tears with sunglasses.
It is inescapable. Complicated. Defining. The answer then is why?
Most would agree that there is no definite answer. But I can at least find a semblance of one in Lamentations 3:31-33.
“For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”
When I think of the reasoning behind this verse, I imagine a dad who gives his teenage daughter the privilege of using the family car to go out with her friends. But then he finds out that last Friday night, she wasn’t at her friend’s house, but instead was at a party with a boy whose idea of morals revolves around the words “don’t get caught.” The dad is worried to death about his daughter, and he tells her that she can’t use the family car for awhile. Understandably, the daughter is grieved. She feels isolated. She doesn’t understand why her father is being so cruel. Little does she know that he didn’t willingly take away her privilege. He did it to protect her from the things she couldn’t see .
Yes, pain is inescapable. Pain is complicated. It is defining. But according to God, I would argue that it is also necessary.
For the shaping of our character…
For our dependance upon the one who made us…
For protection from unimaginable woes….
And for many, many things that none of us can understand or make any sense of.
Still, nothing I have written or that anyone has written will make sense of your grief in a moment of despair. Pain is senseless. And everything about it screams, “why this? why me? WHY?”
But as senseless as pain is, maybe it is not worthless. Maybe it is not meaningless.
(picture taken by me looking out over the fields and hills of Monquecagua, Honduras)