Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsThursday 11 Jun 2020Morning Devotions with Chris Witts
Why is there so much pain? This is the question that arises within most of us when we view the bewilderment on the faces of the world’s victims. We see the faces in the newspapers—a gypsy orphan child from Romania is puzzled by the disinterest and lack of love shown by his adult counterparts.
He is a gypsy. He is different to those around him, hence his compatriots find it difficult to care. A Palestinian teenager shows bitterness in her face, she feels dispossessed as her environment constantly reminds her that she has no homeland. A mother too, in a Middle East country weeps loudly at the loss of her child—an innocent victim of war.
Pain Is Everywhere
Pain is all around us, but most of us don’t want to talk about it. We would prefer to talk about winning—at the cricket, the footy, or even, for that matter, the Gulf War.
In his book Counselling the Dying, Edgar N. Jackson tells of a doctor’s obsession in a large general hospital in New York. He classified the patients on one floor according to their nearness to death. Then he took his place, watch in hand, at the visitor’s alcove at the end of the corridor where he could observe the light over the door of each room. He timed the interval between the appearance of the light over the door and the time the nurse took to enter the room of the patient. For several days he kept track of the time intervals, and correlated with these the condition of the patient. He found that the nurses consistently hurried to the rooms of the patients who were near less to death, and just as consistently dragged their feet in response to the summons of those who were at death’s door.
For some of us the tragedy of human pain and despair is too much to bear, so we unconsciously, turn aside from others rather than helping them through the pain. Pain is part of our humanity. Pain, came about as a result of man’s sinfulness when Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden. It is unfortunate that an attitude which emanates from this belief causes some people to place blame on those who have become the victims in our world.
The disciples of Jesus had such a point of view when they observed a man who had been born blind as they were walking along a thoroughfare. They asked Jesus, “Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents’?”
Jesus answered, “His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents’ sins” (John 9:1-3 – TEV). On this occasion Jesus reached out to the man and healed him.
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We Need to Reach Out
There is much recorded about Jesus’ life on earth which indicated his feelings towards those in pain. Always we see him reaching out to those who were experiencing its misery in various forms. He also brought healing to those who suffered.
On the other hand, Jesus did not opt to take away all pain. In fact, he once challenged his would-be followers: “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must forget himself, take up his cross every day and follow Me” (Luke 9:23 – TEV). Jesus said this after telling them that “the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected….He will be put to death, but three days later He will be raised to life.”
It should be said that while sorrow and pain are part of humanity, joy and lack of pain are God’s eternal plan. The Apostle Paul looked forward to this future glory which the creation longs for, and made the usual statement: “For we know that up to the present time all of creation groans with pain, like the pain of childbirth” (Romans 8:22 – TEV).
The Christian keeps the hope of the hereafter with Christ before him always. Even though he is called to ‘carry a cross’ he can say with George Bennard in the words of the old familiar song: “I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.” He is reminded that ”God will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more……grief or crying or pain. The old things have disappeared” (Revelation 21:4 – TEV).
Meanwhile there is still a lot of pain in our world, much of it caused by the hands of men and women in conflict. The challenge is for all believers, and indeed all men and women of goodwill, to follow the example of Jesus, and make an effort to be involved with the injured and the wounded, despite the heavy cost on themselves. Theirs efforts will surely relieve some of the pain in our world as well as bringing people restoration and reconciliation.
Miriam Richards saw the Christian’s purpose as being to ease the pain. Her verse presents a challenge:
What can I do to ease life’s heavy burdens?
What can I do to help mankind in need?
Just where I am I’ll share my neighbour’s hardship?
Lighten his load and prove a friend indeed.
Captain Harry Webb, War Cry