Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Shattered Dreams: Part 2

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ~ C.S. Lewis; The Problem of Pain

Shattered dreams hurt. It is painful to watch your marriage crumble. It hurts to know the job you love is no longer needed. It aches to have to move from the home you have grown to love. It stings to be rejected by a person you adore. When our dreams shatter we feel it in the very depths of our heart.

It is a great understatement to say that we hate pain. Pain makes our lives uncomfortable whether it is physical or emotional, because it constantly throbs reminding us of its presence. We might be able to find brief moments when we can get away from the pain, but it always seems to come back.

Life, we think, would be so much better if we didn’t have to feel pain. The reality is that pain is a necessity of life. Take for example Ashlyn Blocker. Ashlyn is a young kindergarten girl and she has CIPA (congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis); a rare genetic disorder that makes it impossible for her to feel pain. Her parents and teachers have to be constantly aware of what she is doing. She will eat hot food and not know it is burning her mouth. She can be cut and bleed and not realize she is hurt. Pain serves as a reminder that things are not what they should be. Pain tells us that something is wrong with our body. Without it we wouldn’t know something is wrong.

Our emotional pain serves the same kind of purpose. Emotional pain tells us things are not what they should be. The big reason for this is because we live in a fallen world and the reality of sin and death means pain is going to be our companion at least some of the time. Pain reminds us that we are not in Heaven yet and that things are not how they should be. God is able to use pain to get out attention to think about the deeper issues of life. Without pain most of us would never take the time to think about the reason for life. God wants us to live the life He has dreamed for us, but we will never find that life when we are so focused on our dreams. Painful circumstances are often what it takes to get us to focus our dreams on God.

We can understand that pain serves a purpose, but we still do not like it. We don’t understand how God can care for us so much, yet do nothing when excruciating pain is present in our lives. After all, if we saw a person we love in pain we would do whatever we could to make the pain go away. God can make the pain go away, but He doesn’t. Instead, in the midst of our pain, we hear nothing from God.

That is what makes the problem of pain so hard to understand. Is God ignorant of what pain feels like? Does He understand the feelings of sorrow, hurt, loneliness, and a host of other feelings that penetrate our hearts when our dreams shatter? God doesn’t seem to care about us the way we would care for our loved ones.

God is not ignorant of the feeling of pain! Jesus Christ is a testimony to the fact that God knows what pain is. Jesus, the Son of God, experienced the pain of rejection, physical beatings, and crucifixion. God experienced the emotional pain as the fellowship the Trinity was torn apart as Jesus took on our sin. Jesus, His life and death, reminds us that God knows all about pain.

When we experience pain it might seem like God does not care, but the testimony of Jesus tells us otherwise. God cares about us, and when we forget this the pain of shattered dreams will be unbearable. Knowing God loves us will help us bear enormous pain. The millions of Christians who have been persecuted and martyred are proof of what a person can endure when they are certain of God’s love.

The pain of shattered dreams doesn’t mean God has abandoned us. It is through this pain that God is able to show us the temporary nature of our dreams and how much better His dreams are for our lives. Pain is not proof that God doesn’t love us; rather it is proof that life is not what it should be.



Joy in the Journey said...

One challenging aspect to being a parent is not always going to the rescue of one of our children.

All three kids were playing in the vacant lot across the street yesterday. The two younger ones came home separately, both with scrapes and scratches from climbing evergreen trees.

One option would have been to be very sympathetic, asking them what happened, cooing over their (very small) scrapes. Instead, Big Old Mean Mom said, "Maybe you shouldn't do that anymore?"

Our oldest child (11) is coming across more and more pain in the emotional sense. This type of pain is even more difficult to watch happen to our child. For example, this past spring, her junior choir went on a road trip to the suburbs of Chicago. She was assigned to ride with a group of girls who weren't her friends. However, she was going to be staying overnight in the same hotel room with her friends.

I could have read the choir director the riot act, but I didn't. He knows enough about all of the girls to know who is friends with whom. I told my daughter that this was an excellent opportunity to get to know some girls that she didn't normally see.

Amazingly enough, everything turned out fine. What was initially a great source of stress for her turned out to be an enjoyable experience.

Becoming a parent has taught us so much as to how God views us as His children. When we experience pain, it tears at His heart. He wants to take it all away, but He chooses not to because He knows there is no other way to learn about some aspect of Him.

I heard a concept in a sermon last weekend: faith is built upon experiences. I started thinking about that. . .if we never experience times where we need to lean heavily upon God and watch how He saves us, our faith would be tiny and untested. God has rescued me from the pit SO MANY times--I KNOW that when I fall into the next pit, He will save me again. His timing will be perfect. His methodology will be perfect. His love will be perfect.

Praise and glory be to God who teaches us about Him and His love for our own good.

Darius said...

Or maybe pain is proof that life is what it has to be, at least at this point in the movement toward, "that one far-off divine event to which creation moves."

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