This is just so spot on, I get a word from david each week, they always get to me!!
Life would be much nicer without cuts, bruises, and headaches. Broken limbs, burnt skin, aching teeth, and blistered feet don’t delight any of us. There’s no joy in injury. It hurts. But the physical fails to compare with the social, emotional, or spiritual. We experience the deepest wounds in those areas.
When our bed is awash with tears during the night; when our stomachs knot tighter and tighter; when our hearts feel ready to break with the agony of grief or conflict – what can we do?
For my head, I take a capsule and expect relief within 30 minutes. But for my spirit, what fast fix exists?
The broken marriage, the drug-dazed child, and the down-sized workplace flay our hearts. When others criticize or reject us, what fast-acting relief can ease our pain? When we fail in a task, a ministry, or a relationship, what instant balm exists for our tenderized feelings?
In a culture that avidly avoids pain, we gravitate towards one-minute theology and microwaved spirituality.
None of us is eager to accept the assertion that “God loves you and has a difficult plan for your life.” When Henri Nouwen wrote about the power of the “wounded healer”, surely he didn’t mean that we ought embrace being perpetually or repeatedly wounded. Who’d sign up for that? Our woundedness belongs to our past, not our present – surely.
Yet historically, suffering has been the doorway to meaningful ministry. It’s the paradox of the gospel that life comes from death, that purpose arises from pain, and meaning from misery. Larry Crabb (The Pressure’s Off) rebukes the crass happiness syndrome of modern evangelicalism by writing: “I have no strategies in mind to give you a better marriage, better kids, a more complete recovery from sexual abuse, or quicker healing after your divorce…. Nor, I believe, does God.”
Crabb’s conclusions don’t fit the “successful” faith I want.
Can’t the gospel liberate me from all my blindness, captivity, and pain? Does God not desire my immediate healing and happiness? Is there no simple formula by which I can discard my past baggage, erase my past mistakes, and quickly repair my brokenness? I can accept a cross, provided the resurrection comes quickly.
It hurts. Yes. But there’s hope. St. John of the Cross described it as “the dark night of the soul.” It’s first stage is desolation. It’s last stage is consolation. Inbetween, God holds our hand, purifies our heart, and prepares us for eternity.