Create by: Hungsu Lim December 12, 2015 at 2:29 pm
[Advent Devotion] Day 12 “God With Us” in Our Pain
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. . . . Jesus wept.” (John 11:33, 35 NIV)
Most of us have aspects of our lives, whether past or present, that we would prefer to remain in the darkness and shadows. Depending on the secret, we may go to great lengths to conceal or forget it.
I remember meeting with a friend I had come to know through the twelve-step program. We met in a local park so that I could listen to his story, which was related to the written inventory of the fourth step. Sharing the inventory is similar to the Catholic tradition of reconciliation in which you confess your sins to another person, thereby pulling the sins out of the shadows and into the light. Persons completing the fourth step must catalog the resentments they hold in their hearts toward others, list the ways in which they participated or nurtured those resentments, write any fears they have, and painstakingly inventory their past sinful conduct. It is not for the faint of heart!
I had known this friend for several years and knew that he had significant pain and wreckage in his past. I sensed it because he carried his mistrust, apprehension, and pain in his demeanor. As a result, he had major uneasiness with regard to God and difficulty staying sober. After sitting down and saying a prayer, I remarked, “Why don’t you start with something that you either weren’t planning on telling me or that you were going to save for last?”
He went on to expose a number of deep, painful violations and memories that he had never shared with anyone. As he recounted his stories, he reluctantly shed tears of pain, grief, and anger that had been bottled up for years.
It isn’t easy shining a light in darkness, especially on the secrets in our own lives. The journeys of our lives mandate that we encounter, engage, and navigate pain. We create pain, and we receive pain. We can’t escape it, despite our efforts to stuff it. That’s what was happening with my friend. He had stuffed his pain deep inside, and that day it was boiling over—pain that was fracturing his relationships with God, himself, and many others around him.
Though the pain and grief we experience varies in kind and degree, the fact is that we all have it. Whether it comes from others, our own actions, or unavoidable life circumstances that are nobody’s fault, pain is part of the human experience. Regardless of our backgrounds or experiences, shining a light on our pain is an important step in our transformation. If we don’t allow God to transform our pain, we surely will project it onto others.
Today’s Scripture is simple and profound. Jesus was deeply moved and troubled by the grief of Mary and those gathered to mourn the death of her brother—and his friend—Lazarus. His response was to identify and enter their pain.
Jesus was sent to be God with us in our pain. He was sent for Mary and her friends. He was sent for my friend. He was sent for me. He was sent for you. Allow him to enter your pain today.
PRAYER: God of light, shine your grace, mercy, and love in the places of my pain—and the places of pain for all those of this world. Give each of us the wisdom to know how to allow you to transform our pain. Amen.
(from “SENT: Devotion” Week 3 – Jesus is God with Us by Justin LaRosa)
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