The Great Escape
November 12, 2018
Verse for the Week: Revelation 21:4; “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
Pain. Pain is all around us. It is present and pervasive. It has a pulse and beats hard and fast through our culture with an undercurrent of restlessness.
Additionally, pain wears different hats and dons many faces. Physical pain can be chronic and crippling. Emotional pain can be shaming and devastating. And I believe we are also seeing an influx of spiritual pain canvasing our country as we battle barbaric evil in the form of school shootings, Holy wars, and a steep moral decline with each new generation.
Taken unaware, we have come to a dangerous place of silence. We react allergically to the product of pain. We shun it, ignore it, and avoid it at all costs. We sense the presence of pain, yet fear its power. In response, most of us spend an inordinate amount of time seeking escape routes.
Unfortunately, though, pain is a reality. One in which we will not successfully escape here on earth. Although we continue to seek escape, there is only one true escape from this present pain—it’s the Great Escape, and is found upon our transition into Providence.
I attended a fundraiser this weekend acknowledging the current epidemic of heroin. Among fun costumes, fancy food, and dancing—money was raised, as was awareness. And yet, I can’t help but wonder how we got here. A place where kids and adults alike—regardless of race and station—die from an inability to manage their pain.
Pain is not a new problem. However, we are more equipped than ever before to avoid it, numb it, and bury it under busyness. Although heroin is an extreme example, we are surrounded by people suffering in silence confirming we’ve become masters of mismanaged pain.
We wrestle with questions and paradigms that tell us we have a right to live without pain. But do we?
I’m sure the answer is no. We are hard pressed to find anywhere in Scripture that tells us we can exist without pain. In fact, the presence of pain is splayed across every book of the Bible. We are even told to expect it (John 16:33).
Like it or not, pain is intrinsic to the human experience. It has a purpose. It sounds the alarm. It alerts us to dis-ease in our body, mind, and soul.
There’s no denying it; we have a very real problem of pain. And we are not managing it well at all.
Take a moment, and ask yourself: What is my response to pain?
For many of us, pain has become very personal, and we protect our pain at all costs. Selfishly, we hide it and numb it, all the while it is mutating and multiplying like a virus, taking over more territory than ever before in our thoughts.
To share our pain is to risk. Yet when carried alone, pain grows.
To make matters worse, pain makes people do some crazy things. We’ve all experienced this in one way or another. In ourselves or a loved one. And it is a helpless feeling watching a train wreck happen, and be unable to stop it.
Even so, we as fellow human beings and Christ followers, have a responsibility to seek comfort for our pain and extend comfort to others in pain. This call to comfort is found in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV):
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Clearly, we are called to comfort. We are called to carry a banner of compassion as an example to those around us. There’s no room for selfishness in the Christ-centered culture. We need to make a choice before it’s too late. Lives are at stake.
I need you. You need me. We need each other. It’s time to stand in the gap and extend ourselves. Extend a hand; your heart; your self for another. This life is too short to waste away in the abyss of mismanaged pain.
I, for one, have sulked in the silence for too long. Let’s learn from the ‘greats’ of the faith—Moses, Joshua, Ester, and Paul—they stood in their fear and reached for their fellow man anyway.
Learn by example; lead by example.
Although we are tempted to escape the pain of this life, it’s not until the Great Escape when our feet tread the pavement of heaven will pain cease to exist. Until then, we can learn to manage the pain through shared comfort—for we are comforted in order to comfort others. It is fundamental to our faith. Let’s show this world how it’s done!
Lord God, You are the great Comforter. Teach me how to extend myself to be part of the solution to this overwhelming problem of pain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
If you are in pain, take the risk today and share it. And if you’ve learned the lesson of pain and have received the gift of comfort, look to your right and left, find someone in pain and extend yourself.
Pain shared is cut in half, and joy shared is doubled. Let’s be examples of this faith fact!
Click this link to listen: I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me
Hugs for a great week and remember, you are not alone. Be blessed and participate in the compassion of comfort as you await the Great Escape.