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The Other Side of Pain
Light After Darkness by jhongdizon
Photo by jhongdizon.
Today, I got to experience the other side of pain.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NIV): "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion adn the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hoope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
For many years, I struggled through a difficult life. Earmarked by poverty, fear, lonliness, isolation. The list could go on. As I made my way through, I often railed against God.
Alone and crying, I would plead, "Why me Lord? Why are you testing me like this? Why must I endure this?"
And always the answer was the same. "So that you can share with others later." The response came from friends, pastors, counselors. They all believed that my suffering would some day help me to help others.
I listened to the pat response with cynicism, fear, scepticism, doubt. How could I ever help anyone? I couldn't even help myself. And, more importantly, why wasn't anyone "helping" me? Where were these people, who had experienced what I was going through? Where the compassion, where the comfort, where the understanding? The trials I endured seemed foreign to those around me, living in comfort and leisure.
That was the view I embraced. No one could possibly understand. No one could possibly help. No one really cared. It felt like their need to distance themselves from my pain resulted in a biblical, albeit unsettling response.
I remember one bible study leader telling me, "Consider it pure joy, Deborah, when you endure troubles of many kinds. For you will learn that the testing of your faith produces perserverence, and perservence leads to wisdom." His words, from the book of James, were intended to comfort, but I could not see the joy in my suffering. I could only feel the hurt.
When our family was asked to leave a church body, for the first time, the shame, fear, lonliness, anger, isolation and abandonment felt insurmountable. I could see no good. I could not see God. Before me, desolation, disgrace. Behind me, a church family who finally decided to expel the offending member from it's midst. And even as I cried out to God, begged, peaded and bargained, I could not see how any good would ever come of this.
God, in his infinite mercy, first comforted me. Although forsaken by my "family", he would never leave me. He let me know that I could always turn to him, alway talk to him, always cry out. And when I was ready to listen, I would hear the small still voice. A response to my anguished cries.
And now, many years later, God has given me a beautiful gift. He has, in a sense, restored the years the locusts have destroyed. The gift came in the form of a woman, from out of town. She stopped in my bookstore, looking for... something. She left, empty handed. Days later, she called, requesting a reiki treatment.
Before giving reiki, I always pray that God will use me as a conduit of his healing energy. I also ask that I simply share his love, in whatever form is needed. On this day, as she and I talked, I heard fear in her voice. As she described a church situation, and her decision to separate from a body in which she had worshipped for fifteen years, I suddenly realized how to help her.
I honestly shared from my own experience, telling her of the pain and lonliness that would result from her decision. Regardless of the reasons, when you leave a church, it is a painful separation.
After speaking, I laid my hands on her and felt Gods energy and love pouring through me, and into her. It was emotionally charged for both of us.
I can now honestly say that I understand the need to go through that devastating experience.
God's peace and joy filled me and flowed through me, finally, on the other side of pain.