Friday, February 24, 2017

"The Place of Pain"

Numbers 11.11a, 14-15 “The Message”

“Moses said to God, ‘Why are you treating me this way? What did I ever do to you to deserve this?’ ‘I can’t do this by myself — it’s too much, all these people. 

If this is how you intend to treat me, do me a favor and kill me. I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough. Let me out of here.’

Sometimes you come to the end of your rope and the end of yourself. “I can’t do this by myself.” It’s a place of pain. Like Moses, your soul screams at God, “What did I ever do to you to deserve this? It’s too much.” Dark thoughts of personal demise float through your mind... Why doesn’t God just “do me a favor and kill me?”

“I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough.
Let me out of here.”

God called Moses to perform a task. Then He made it impossible for Moses to succeed. Moses cried out, “I can’t do this myself.” He was stuck between the absolute awareness of God’s calling and utter impossibility of its fulfillment. That’s a rough place to be. It’s the place of pain, hopelessness, despair. It’s worse than death. In fact, some reasonable people would opt to die rather than to suffer more pain. Unfortunately, God’s plan of redemptive suffering does not include an ‘easy way out.’ Moses was stuck. He felt betrayed by God.

“I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough. Let me out of here.”

Are you in the place of pain? Hang on. God reveals His purpose in time. Hold steady. It’s in the place of pain (and only this place) that one develops the depth of character necessary to carry out His will. You may not want to perform the will of the Lord at this price. You may not want this depth of character. But it was never really your choice. It’s God’s choice for you. Moses, Job, David, Elijah, Paul and many others survived the place of pain. They are not our only examples. Jesus also hit His personal bottom at the place of pain. He literally sweat blood there (Luke 22.44). Christ discovered His absolute alone-ness in the place of pain (John 16.32). He suffered the betrayal of His Heavenly Father and even died there.

“…Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying,
‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’”

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.”
Matthew 27.46, 50 NKJV

Pain does not last forever. It ends well. Though not immediately visible, there is a redemptive purpose for your suffering in the place of pain.

9 comments:

maffy said...

This passage certainly does challenge (ahd provide hope to) those of us in chronic pain. Thank you for offering this.

I have a lot of thoughts about it, but I think I have to mull it over.

One point here stands out--that Jesus himself asked why God had forsaken him. When we're awash in a cruel existence, you really do begin to wonder if anyone is looking out for us.

It makes him all the more human to me that he said this.

Thanks, Dave.

Dave Scriven said...

I agree. I love what Hebrews 4:15 says: "For we don't have a high priest [Jesus] who can't be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin." He can truly sympathize because He has endured suffering as a human like you and me.

maffy said...

I have one more thought about this great post and this comment: "Unfortunately suicide is never a legitimate option… God’s plan of redemptive suffering does not include an ‘easy way out.’"

I wince a bit when I read comments like this, because is suggests that in mental illness, we have a choice as to how we'll feel or behave, and we just don't. I wish it were that simple.

When I myself was in this state, the pain of this type of agony cannot be overstated. I was lucky enough to have responded to medication, but there are those who don't for reasons not fully understood. Very often, these people WANT to live, but the pain of clinical depression is just too unbearable.

It's like the guy you see in a Vietnam movie who's just had his leg blown off and is begging to die. Does anyone fault him for that? And would anyone fault him or his buddies if NO help was around anywhere, so they just morphined him to death?

Those who commit suicide don't see suicide as the easy way out; for most who take this road, it's the *only* way out at the time. Sometimes it's faulty thinking on their part, but sometimes it just may be true.

That's why I get so confused about these "higher power" issues. I love your post so much here--I'll probably print out the entire thing to re-read it--but I find it just so hard to BELIEVE it.

Thoughts like these certainly give meaning to our pain, but I just don't know that they're true. The fact that Jesus said what he did on the cross tells me that even he doubted at the end.

I, too, have felt God's abandonment, only I didn't die the moment I felt it. I've been feeling it a loooong time now.

We don't want to think that God could put someone in such an awful situation, but I live one every day. Sometimes, mental illness simply kills. Suicide due to depression shouldn't be seen as the act of the patient, but as a statistic of the disease.

Those who die of depression deserve the deepest compassion of all, in my book. It's no way to go.

Thanks again for all your good thoughts...

Mary Ann

Dave Scriven said...

Hi Mary Ann,

Thank you for this response that obviously comes straight from your heart. I am moved by the depth of your awareness and the compassion you feel for those in pain. I have nothing much to add. You make some strong points and I certainly agree with most of what you said.

Suicide is not an easy subject and there are no easy answers. In my core, however, I am convinced there is a place for redemptive suffering. I respect your feelings. That you have a hard time believing there is a divine purpose behind the pain you see and have felt makes me respect you even more. It helps me understand that your suffering is so much more than superficial. Your ability to identify with hurting people transcends the norm. In this sense, you have something very much in common with Jesus.

Thank you for sharing.
Dave

maffy said...

Dave--

Your compassion can bring tears to my eyes, and this is good for me. I'm not even aware of how much I bottle up until something breaks through, and then something releases. So thank you for that.

I've become a regular reader of your blog, so was happy to see the subscribe link. Is that new? I hadn't seen it before (or maybe it was just Atom and not RSS? not that I know what that even means), so I became a follower instead (a less effective means of following a blog, I've found). Now your blog listings pop up on my Google homepage!

One more thought: I've never heard the phrase "redemptive suffering," but it resonates for me, too. I have to admit that a LOT of useless character traits have been burned away by this experience, so something deep within me is happy, even though I'm freakin' miserable!

No wonder I'm so confused all the time. :)

Thanks again, Dave. I need this.

Mary Ann

Dave Scriven said...

Thanks for sharing again, Mary Ann. My wife's grandmother committed suicide. She loved her grandmother very much and has some beautiful memories of the intimate times they shared when Adonica was young. I think she will weigh in soon on this dialog with you and me.

Regarding the Atom and RSS feeds and my new "Subscribe to Word Traveler" option, I'm with you. I don't really know how it works. I added this Google 'gadget' in case others might want to use it. I like "Followers" better because it is less anonymous and feels more like a social network thing.

Jesus loves you so much, Mary Ann.

Dave

maffy said...

Dave--

I can't help but return to this post over and over. Here's another quote of yours: "He suffered the betrayal of His Heavenly Father and even died there."

Do you really believe God the Father betrayed him, or did you mean something else?

I had a cool conversation last night with a friend in recovery, and his feeling was that God *can't* intervene with natural law because that would interfere with our free will.

I must say, I envy your strong faith. I miss it.

Mary Ann

Dave Scriven said...

I think I may be stretching it a bit theologically to say that the Father actually betrayed His Son, Jesus. However, it would be safe to say Jesus, in His humaness, felt betrayed by His Father when He cried out, "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken Me?" It was apparently all part of a Divine Plan for Jesus, the pure and sinless lamb of God, to suffer and die for our sins. The greatest news ever is that He overcame death and, rising from His tomb, lives today as your advocate and mine.

By the way, I agree with your friend in recovery. God gave us a free will and will only intervene in my decision-making process by invitation. Otherwise, I'd be nothing more than a mindless and heartless Christian robot.

Thanks for sharing, Mary Ann. I love your comments.

Dave

Crown of Beauty said...

Hi, I am a new reader of your blog. There are very many blogs that are worth reading but I have decided to limit myself to those that write about the word of God with authority. Blogs that preach and teach don't appeal to me - I prefer to read those that are written from a heart to heart relationship with the Father. Yours obviously is.

Blogs with a personal touch, the "mixing His story with my story" kind of blog.

I have added you to my blog roll, for easy access on my part.

Blessings, and thanks. I appreciated my visit here today. Redemptive suffering is one thing I have personally discovered in my life. There is just something about the word "redemptive" that touches me at the core of my being.
Reading through this post made me feel like meeting someone else who speaks my language.

Again, thanks.

Lidia