Read Lamentations 3:1-33. It is perfectly natural for us to want to avoid the pain and loss in our lives. It can feel sado-masochistic to turn into it! But when you stop to think about it, that is the way of the Christian. The way to life in Christ is through death. We cannot have resurrection without first experiencing crucifixion. I have to admit, of course, that’s much easier to say than it is to live!
When we are children, we learn to create defensive walls around us to shield us from pain. Blocking out pain when we are young helps us endure painful circumstances. Otherwise, we might not survive such pain and loss. However, to mature, we must let go of these defence mechanisms and face reality. Some of us continue building the wall. We refuse to acknowledge pain and loss. We tell everyone we’re fine when we’re not. We minimise what is going wrong in our lives, making it appear less serious than it is. We blame others for the pain and loss we feel, or we blame ourselves when others are responsible. We offer excuses or justification for what is going on. Some of us turn to generalities – “there are others worse off than me”, for example. We change the subject or use humour as a shield. Or we become angry and irritable when our pain or loss is mentioned.
Jeremiah shows another, healthier way. He pays attention to the pain and loss he feels. He screams out in pain. He shouts at God. He struggles. He wrestles. He tells God exactly how he’s feeling. He complains to God. He weeps. We would do well to follow his example. Paying attention to how we feel and processing our feelings before God help us to avoid stuffing them down and trying to forget them, only to have them “leak” on us through passive-aggressive behaviour like turning up late, making sarcastic remarks, using a nasty tone of voice, or doling out the silent treatment. Pay attention to yourself and to God. Choose to enter the pain and loss you feel. And like Jeremiah, you will rediscover your hope in the faithfulness of God.
THINK IT OVER
•Do you spin or cover up your pain and losses or can you deal honestly and prayerfully with them?
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