So Much Pain
Afghanistan, Haiti, Lytton; three headlines that get progressively closer to us. We witness the end of a 20 year war and the beginning uncertainty and chaos. We see the devastation and death of a second major earthquake to convulse Haiti in the last decade. The evidence of rampaging fires in BC is in our eyes and lungs. These events are tragic. Each one shatters the routine of life. They all are weighted with sorrow and tears. Yet, they do not affect us in the same manner. We are prayerful and concerned for each, but proximity matters.
The closer I am to a hardship, the more it envelopes my view. Those who stare at a scorched foundation and bare chimney, feel compassion for lost lives in Haiti, but have just enough capacity for what’s in front of them. Haitians who must find clean water or prepare a funeral cannot also carry the grief of the Afghan nation. Afghan women hiding from the Taliban are unaware of evacuated BC families running from flames. Pain is common - too common. Each crisis can overwhelm the souls who carry it. They have no room to carry more. That’s why comparing pain is a pointless exercise.
Sometimes when our hurts are spoken, we quickly add, “But there are many who have it worse than me!” The statement may be true. Sorrow is not dealt in equal measure. But comparing our hurt to the hurt of others does nothing to ease our wounds. Our pain is not less simply because the pain of others is greater. Delivered by flame, earthquake or soldiers, each grief is real and cries out for comfort.
The Psalmist promises that, “God is close to the brokenhearted. ”(Ps.34:18) He is magnetized to it. Our Lord does not rank the level of pain or triage us in sequence of need. Afghanistan, Haiti, Lytton - God is present to all. He is present to the injuries of life. There are no forgotten tears. He is not dismissive of those hurts which seem minor, temporary, self inflicted or “an act of God.” If proximity focuses awareness or sensitivity to misery, our omnipresent Lord sees and feels all suffering. Jesus proves it.
Jesus interrupts a funeral procession and returns a dead son to his mother, alive and well. Jesus sees the crowd and feels their hunger pangs. He nourishes and satisfies them. A woman sick for decades, is healed by a touch of his garment. Power and compassion flow from Jesus, like a surplus released by faith. Peter’s mother in law is down with a fever - but not for long. Look at the list of pains Jesus responded to. High temperature. Lightless eyes. Impotent legs. Souls tortured by demonic power. Sisters crying at the grave of their brother. Nothing too small. Nothing too big. Jesus’ heart is moved by the bumps, bruises and blows of life. He even laid down upon a cross to suffer the agony of dying and death. His life and resurrected life whisper there will be an end to all pain and tears. Comfort for now. Promise for glory to come. Speak that hope in Afghanistan, Haiti and Lytton.