This Curiosity Called Pain

I’ve been contemplating this driving force of nature that simultaneously wrenches the earth and fuses it together. Pain, an anomaly that both constructs the heart into a watchtower and shrinks it into a hardened lump of matter until all that matters is the pain.

I know a man who drowns himself at the bottom of a bottle because of his pain.

I know a woman who is wounded with barbs, but instead of plucking them out so she may heal, she bristles like a porcupine to ward off future barbs.

You can get sucked into despair like a black hole and turn endlessly with no gravity to pull you back to ground.

I’ve been thinking that the solution to pain is not its absence, but hope. Hope, also an anomaly, is some sense of tangible intangibility that the pain will end. Pain becomes your greatest foe when there is not hope, because when pleasure is sucked from your surroundings and you are left with hopeless pain, what else is left to do but check out, or drink, or put a gun to your head?

I am grappling with my own pain. I let it in by the lake, when the sun glittered on the water and my eyes stung with tears and cold wind, and somehow I knew it would lead me to wholeness. Right now it follows me around, riding shotgun while I drive, keeping me awake at night, hovering while I clean and ever-looking for moments to thrust darts at my heart.

It’s been a long time since I experienced pain like this, but I embrace it afresh, because it makes me feel alive. It doesn’t make me grow resilient, or feel diminished. Rather, it heightens my awareness of the blood running through my veins, the throbbing of my heart.

Why does pain make me aware that I am living? Why do I feel a strange sense of thriving amidst it?

I’ve been surmising that the reason I have never been to the hole of despair is because of an eternal hope burning in my belly, a ball of light that never goes out, of which pain can never loom large enough to snuff. I’ve been imagining a world where pain didn’t exist, a world prior to sin’s birth. Pain was never the intention of God. He promises to come back and restore us to the perfection of Eden, to conquer pain with finality. I think this must be the eternal hope.

I stopped thinking. I asked Jesus why I feel alive in pain, why it doesn’t make me want to die.

You always say that where there is life, there I am. The life you feel in pain is me.

Of course. Isn’t that the first thing I do in my pain, cry out to God to come to me? I never realized, all those times I encountered pain, that he came to be in it. Life. Hope.

I am musing about a God who comes to dwell in my pain. Jesus, after all, is not unacquainted with it. He is the life in my sorrow of this world, and the hope of a world restored.

 

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