Pain. It’s unpleasant. Uncomfortable. And we all experience it. Christians. Atheists. Moralists. Post-modernists. The real question is what do we do with our pain? Who or what will soothe our pain? My attempt today is to show that any attempts to soothe our pain outside of Jesus Christ is the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. It just does not last or deal with the true heart of the matter.
What soothes your pain? What eases your disappointments, hurts, and failures? Maybe it’s a drink. A person. Money. An activity. A distraction. An event. In one way or another, we look for an escape from our pain. A fall back plan.
Many religions of the world teach that if we can empty ourselves of all the bad, we can find inner peace. That the pain will go away and we can finally experience joy and freedom. That our pain is bad and that we must get rid of it. Once we get rid of it, be more positive, we will experience true life.
Others say, to distract yourself. Have a drink. Binge on Netflix. Mass text your friends. Bury your feelings deep.
But is this the true path to peace? To empty oneself? To escape? To Distract?
I know I have tried this approach most of my life. That when pain comes in, I try to go to a behavior that I know will soothe and it is does…for a little while. But I always come back hungrier. Less content. Angrier. More frustrated. I am never fulfilled through my escapism.
In Genesis 25:29-34, we have the story of two brothers, Jacob and Esau. In this story, Esau comes in from working in the field, and he is exhausted. He sees that his brother Jacob is cooking a stew and he begs him for some. So Jacob uses Esau’s desperate state to get Esau to give him his birthright. Listen to Esau’s response: “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32). So Jacob made Esau swear to him on it, and then Esau ate, and drank, and rose, and went on his way.
What was the significance of a birthright?
According to GotQuestions.org “The birthright is emphasized in the Bible because it honored the rights or privileges of the family’s firstborn son. After the father died, or in the father’s absence, the firstborn son assumed the father’s authority and responsibilities. In addition to assuming the leadership role in the family, the recipient of the birthright inherited twice that received by the other sons.”
So let’s summarize. Esau exchanged honor, future authority, family leadership, and double the blessings for…..a bowl of stew.
How foolish! How short-sighted! We would never do something like that, right?
Wrong. Everyday we in the midst of our pain in essence pick our bowl of soup over our birthright. We exchange long lasting peace and life for a quick fix. We do that when we drink to numb our pain. We do that when we look at an image on a computer because we are lonely. We do that when we curl up in bed and binge watch netflix for hours on end because we are too afraid and too hurt to face the day. We do that when we rant on social media about injustices. We do this all day everyday. We end up satisfied in the moment, but in the long term, we exchange wholeness, life, and true acceptance for a bowl of soup. In essence, our short term, quick fix, is like placing a band-aid on a bullet wound. It doesn’t fix anything. It just covers up the problem. The problem continues to fester beneath the surface until the next time pain comes around.
So what is the alternative? If escaping, distracting, and numbing our pain away doesn’t work, what does?
Enduring it with Jesus. As my counselor puts it, “sitting in the pit with Jesus.”
Pain is a part of what it means to be human. Pain is a good thing in a lot of ways. Without pain, one willingly puts their hand on a hot stove. Without suffering, we would not know joy. Without loss, we would not know comfort. Without hardships, we would not gain strength. We grow more through our pain than without it.
Jesus says this in John 16:33 and Matthew 11:28:
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Right there plain as day. We will have trials and sorrows. Hurts and Disappointments. But….the good new is that Jesus has overcome the world!
We struggle to deal with our pain because we are short-sighted. We need an eternal perspective to deal with pain. That only Jesus can deal with our pain, and that our pain, if we are Christians, will not last forever.
So when you are hurting, disappointed, feeling rejection, don’t turn on netflix, put down that drink, turn off your computer, and turn to Jesus. He is the only one that can remove that bullet and clean the wound properly. He will give you rest in the hard times. He will be your comfort in the lonely times. He will be your strength in the times of sadness and loss. He will be your joy.
Take heart weary soul, for Jesus has overcome the world. He will clean your wounds if you let Him.