Turning Pain into a Parable


I have been giving some thought to the ways that God reveals himself in our lives and remembered this blog post from a couple of years back. As I reread it I decided it might be worth re-posting. Let me know if it resonates with you:

Yesterday was one of those days marked by pain. In my heart. All the day. For reasons and circumstances utterly beyond my own doing yet simply common to Everyman. The stuff of life taking the toll on my life. And, you know, it is no different than your day, or your tomorrow, or some day you had awhile back. It’s not unique, nor is it just me.

It’s all of us.

But when such days come how might one endure, particularly when in the most general terms the hurt has absolutely nothing to do with any personal volition, but is simply the result of things beyond your control, things you can’t manage, things that catch you completely off guard?

For me—and I honestly cannot remember where I picked up on this—the experience becomes a parable, as if I were caught up in one of the stories of old, told by Jesus, along some dusty trail, with a crowd gathered. Here is my life, my day, my joys or conflicts or hurts, and as I watch myself in the midst of the story I learn some things, hopefully good things; things that ideally will motivate me to be conformed even a little more to the very image of my Master (Romans 8:29).

I’m reminded first and foremost what it must have been like and be like still for the heart of God to break when I offend Him. If this alone is a reason for the wounds of any day, then it is worthwhile, for frankly, apart from such moments, my life is generally so easy that I take for granted God’s grief over my own sin. Like some parabolic, petty servant taking advantage of a rich landowner, cheating him out of what he is due, so I no doubt hurt the heart of my King with my own pettiness or foolishness or malice. When I in my own hurt identify even for a moment with that of the Righteous One, then suddenly I realize that the crucifixion really was costly, and my own wounds—whatever they may be—really are deserved, however unjustified they may be in the actual moment.

Another thing I’m reminded of is that all of us—everyone—the wounded and the wounders—really do live in a broken world, with our own broken hearts, and the insecurities and the tactics of self-preservation commonplace to such a reality. Again, like the seemingly bland characters of some poignant story told by the Lord to a captivated crowd, we’re on a journey, and journeys by nature make us road weary and in need of rest at the waysides that we hope and pray are along the path. Of course the great advantage of this is that it is easier to then give away that which hardness or blindness would keep us from giving, and that is . . . grace.

One more thing, at least for now, that I’m reminded of when I turn my pain into a parable, is that painful moments become marvelous opportunities to model the best things in the midst of hurtful stuff. Patience, a tongue that is bitten hard, an intentional movement of love towardthe wounders, who themselves are really already wounded, thus their own wounding of others—these things can be powerfully instructive to everyone, and perhaps most of all to those on the sidelines observing the unfolding traumas of human hearts, wondering what to do, what to say, and how to endure. Not to be a masochist, but it is in some way a privilege to suffer, to lose face, to be the object of uninformed accusation or, as the psalmist writes, to be one against whom some “open wide their mouths” and “say, ‘Aha, Aha!'” (Psalm 35:21). Maybe this is one of the reasons why Jesus says “Blessed are you. . . .” when such things happen (Matthew 5:10-11). He sees beyond the moment to the great opportunity, an opportunity wherein those on the sidelines learn how to live, the wounded learn how to give, and the ones wounding experience even a moment’s worth of healing.


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