this side of exquisite
by Elizabeth de Barros
ENOUGH PAIN MAKES US HONEST, eventually. And pharmacy records don’t lie. We’re a sophisticated people wrapped in gauze, covered in a thousand tiny Band-aids, hiding behind the fact that we’re bleeding out all over, hoping nobody will notice.
If pain were not so shameful, we’d have no problem baring all. But it is. So we do a work around.
Minimize. Avoid. Deny.
“Look Ma, no pain!”
But Ma is smarter than that, and knows that pain is bigger than us all — a result of the Fall, part of sin’s curse. The Garden, birthplace of the mortal wound, where guilt, shame, fear, and every manner of pain was introduced by one man’s act of disobedience, sentencing men to death.
Can I say this? The sin of disobedience is the root of all pain. Too simplistic? Agreed. But it’s true. Hang with me. It gets better.
Theology doesn’t help much in a fire. Water does. But damage occurs either way. Theology, however, protects both left and right, front and center, behind, before, and after. A sound theology escorts, walks us through, helps us assess things when life strikes — perhaps not immediately, but, of course, that’s not how it works.
First, we hurt. Maybe hurt and run. Go numb. Fixate. Or protest. We manage pain rather poorly, usually by making things worse in our scurry to find a cure. We don’t want to admit the depth of our pain. It scares us. Dealing with death is a whole other matter. When the curtain looms final, we give pause to grieve, pay our respects. Sometimes oddly. We yell at doors — or chairs — and other inanimate objects. Pound our fist on the hard-packed earth. Seethe under our breath just enough for no one to notice. Some travel, others clean the basement or take up bowhunting. Complexity defines us, stares back at us — we want everything nice and simple.
But life isn’t like that.
Pain, at times, can be astounding — sets the world in a desperate frame, causes us to adopt strange ideologies, if only temporarily. There’s a time to hurt, be human. Rail. Retreat. But please don’t give the world the silent treatment. Be real. God has shouldered bigger burdens. When living on the brink of ruin gets to be too much, listen to the Teacher, find out the assignment.
The blood that flowed from Immanuel’s veins flowed for you. God’s wrath against sin and His love for men were eternally expressed by one man’s act of obedience in that historical, cataclysmic moment. There’s nothing trite about the cross.
Nor is there anything trite about our pain. It shouts, tears at us, reminds us that we’re fallen and need the kindness of a Savior to lead us to repentance. Healing is found in the cleansing blood of Christ’s own wounds, where peace is made and new life comes, borne in the marks of a blood-washed soul.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
-Colossians 1:19-20 (ESV)