Wednesday, March 12, 2008

heavy reading: I've read some heavy stuff this year!

To some, the image of a pale body glimmering on a dark night whispers of defeat. What good is a God who does not control his Son's suffering? But another sound can be heard: the shout of a God crying out to human beings, "I LOVE YOU." Love was compressed for all history in that lonely figure on the cross, who said that he could call down angels at any moment on a rescue mission, but chose not to - because of us. At Calvary, God accepted his own unbreakable terms of justice.

Any discussion of how pain and suffering fit into God's scheme ultimately leads back to the cross.

Philip Yancey: Where is God When it Hurts

In ancient civilizations and cultures of India and to Southeast Asia where pain and hunger, disease and death, have been for centuries a part of every day life and where easy relief of pain by medication has not been available the people have developed a realistic attitude towards pain. The personal mastery of pain has become an important part of yoga and other forms of discipline. In the West we have come to think of pain as an unwarranted intrusion into our lives. Above all we have come to think of it as something that should be immediately suppressed. The whole thrust of television advertising repeatedly asks only one question about pain. How quickly can it be relieved. Product A relieves it 20 seconds faster than Product B. There is no hint that before the pain is relieved it should be understood and its message should be listened to.

Paul Brand: The Gift of Pain

I thought I am kissing pain and pain belongs to You as happiness never does. I love You in Your pain. I could almost taste metal and salt in the skin, and I thought, How good you are. You might have killed us with happiness, but You let us be with You in pain.

Graham Greene: The End of the Affair


  1. I was going to comment and then decided not to, then decided what the heck.

    I will say that a constant, grinding, unrelenting, entire body filled with pain is physically tiring. This type of pain causes one to realize that they are sitting with clenched teeth, and tightened muscles. It robs you of your humor, energy, and even the ability to interact with others in a civilized manner.

    However, it also gives one the opportunity to dig deep within their inner-self, finding gifts and resources they never realized they had. And gives a person the ability to talk to and understand what a person who is new to the concept of this type of pain is going through

  2. I am glad you did. Of the two I prefer Brand over Yancey. I think His appreciation of the physicality of humans and how it reflects God's creation and design is much deeper. Yet even Brand can't seem to come up with anything useful regarding persistent, grinding, damaging pain such as Brian Sternberg or yourself or someone with severe RA deals with.

    He talks a bit about RA and Yancey talks about ALS but neither of them offer up much for the two diseases. They use them as examples of an extremity that few go through.

    I also think you are very, very right about the levels of empathy it creates.

    My severe outbreak last November was short and I am sure nothing compared to what others go through and yet it has changed my attitude towards people who deal with so-called invisible diseases. Good Dutchman that I am, I often figured they just needed to get it together and toughen up.

    I know better now. For whatever reason, I have not had another attack on the scale of the one in November. Now my attacks are persistent aches and a deep weariness that wear one out but do not cause anything resembling excruciating pain.