FaithVillage recently hosted its first writing contest, asking FV Charter Members and FV Contributors to answer the questions: What experience recently moved your faith? How did it change you? Five winners were chosen, and each winner will receive a FaithVillage T-shirt. A winning contest entry will be posted each day this week. Thanks to all who entered!
Today’s entry comes from Lisa Bonnett, a FaithVillage Charter Member.
Pain is a part of life. Deep, emotional pain is something that all humans experience. So why does it seem to always catch us off guard?
It seems to me that we never expect to experience deep, searing pain in our lives. When we start out on our own – we think we’ll experience a couple of breakups and a few traffic tickets, but overall we’ll have smooth sailing. At least, that’s what I expected. What we don’t expect is to experience job loss, the death of a loved one, divorce, a child in serious trouble, addiction issues – and we certainly don’t expect war, terror attacks, or random violence.
When I was in Sierra Leone last summer I saw a people who have lived through a 10+ year civil war, death of multiple family members, poverty, sickness, and injury. I was completely blown away by the joy they had. To show you their joy, let me tell you of the day I fell in love with the Sierra Leonean people.
The second to last day we were in Sierra Leone we went to a Thanksgiving service. It was for the end of the school year – a way to publicly give thanks to God for that year. The first thing that Pastor Kargbo said was, “Lord, thank you that none of the children died this year.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t thank God that none of the kids died at my sons’ school. (I thank God that they didn’t get bullied, I’m thankful that we made it through the year without a broken arm, but death? Wow.) Then, after the service, we – the women, the men, the students, and the honored guests – danced through the streets for two miles singing praises to God. The women all danced together and we were really having a party! Singing loud and gettin’ down!
Now, I love hot weather, but I wasn’t prepared for dancing through the streets in 90 degree heat with 99% humidity. I was soaked with sweat and my muscles were aching from dancing for so long. At one point David (my hubby) came back to the women’s section to give me some water. The ladies around me asked, “Is that your man?” I answered, “yes, he’s my man” then they grabbed my left hand and looked at my ring. On my ring is a diamond that may or may not have funded the civil war that they survived (click here to find out more about blood diamonds). Did they get upset with me? Did they move away from me because I was a rich white woman with a husband? No. They hung on to me and jumped up and down and rejoiced with me because I. Have. A. Husband. Most of those women didn’t have husbands. Most of those women were caring for multiple children with little or no income to buy food or clothing or shelter. But they danced with me and shouted thanks to God because I have a husband. Pain is a part of their lives – oh, but so is joy!
In my experience we normally get jealous if someone has something that we used to have or have desired for a long time but have never attained it (confession: I still get a twinge of jealously when I see an iPhone 4s). I think part of the reason we get jealous is because we expect that things will go well for us. We expect to be blessed materially, familially, and spiritually. But anyone who has lived just a little bit of life knows that things never go as expected. And as the loss and the pain become overwhelming we get angry with people around us and we get angry with God because how could He let this happen to us? We are supposed to be blessed!
I think we need to expect deep emotional pain in our lives. Not in a fatalistic, Eeyore kind of way. But in a balanced way that says, “I expect that there will be joy and sorrow in my life, pain and healing, sadness and laughter. Through everything God is my rock and my salvation. I will rejoice in Him during the good times and rest in His strength in the bad times. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Easier said than done, I know. But, if we prepare ourselves by developing a vibrant relationship with God, seek His wisdom in all things, and recognize/accept the brokenness of the world we live in, I think we’ll be better prepared when the pain comes.
Life isn’t pain, dear sweet Wesley is wrong on that one. But joy, pain, trials and blessing are all a part of life. What do you think?