"Sit in the pain." That is what a friend told me one day as we talked about a common loss we experienced. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Who wants to sit in their pain? Everything within us wants to avoid pain and run the other way!
There is a time, however, when it is good to face your pain. This time is when you are facing loss. The loss may cut to the core of who you are, like a death or a divorce. It may be less severe, but still painful, like the loss of a job, a close friend moving away, or even the death of a dream that appears will not be fulfilled. Experts say that when a person avoids the pain associated with these types of losses, it is just burying the discomfort for another day. It will eventually manifest itself in some way, as more intense pain when another loss occurs, or as anger, bitterness, depression, addiction or even physical health issues. You can put off the discomfort only for so long.
So what does one do when the pain is intense and you cannot imagine going “through” it? How can you face it when everything within you wants to escape, or to medicate with temporary fixes that may only make the problem worse in the long run? Many possibilities exist, like drawing strength from friends, attending a support group, journaling, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, or seeing a counselor. But as helpful as these may be, they only go so far. What can you do when you are by yourself again, and the pain lurks in the darkness of your alone-ness, waiting to devour you like a ravenous animal? Face it with the help of Someone who has promised to never leave or forsake you. Face it with the One who knows your pain better than you even do.
A wise man once said, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” It is in the deepest, rawest hours that I have come to know the sweetness of a Presence that I would not have otherwise known. The pain is still there, but there is a healing ointment that comes from another Source who is present in the pain with me. He does not go away and is not a temporary solution; He is a stable, abiding Presence, exuding healing, courage and strength to face another day.
“Wait a minute!” you say. “Don’t introduce God into this. He is the One who got me into this mess! He did not do a darn thing to protect me from it!” It is not my intention to solve the dilemma of how a good God can exist in the presence of suffering and evil. Many qualified people have addressed this, and we will not fully solve the conundrum until this life is finished. I do believe, however, that if you can find it in yourself to open your heart to Him, even just to crack the door, you will find that He is bigger than your doubts and your pain.
I am praying for you, whether you open that door or choose to keep it closed.