Personally, I know no one who’s suffered more or paid more for the allowance of sin than Christ. And certainly, no one has had more grief of a race gone bad. But in the real world, how could one worship a God who seems so immune to that of His followers? Can a follower really look at the cross, see Christ and His tortured figure, and say, ‘This is the God for me.’
One can’t help but notice pain’s prevalence while walking the medical center hallways. A man in room 204 received a catheter. How does Christ empathize with a patient having a small tube shoved up his urinary track? The woman in room 314 was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. So how would Christ share someone’s slow loss of mental capacity? How does Christ understand death from an Ebola virus, cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, HIV or any number of alignments the human body is destined to experience?
Of course there are other scenarios. Christ never died in a 13 car pile-up somewhere near Small Ville, USA. ISIS did not force God to renounce His faith, convert Him to Islam at gunpoint and then behead Him. It’s never been recorded that Christ ever experienced a loved one dying from an earthquake, Tsunami, being blown from the sky by a BUK missile or suffering from a building collapse while sewing clothes for paltry few bucks a day. Christ did not die from starvation and was never bought, sold and smuggled by human traffickers.
How do we respond when someone says, “Jesus loves you and knows your very pain?‘
I pass room 652. I look upon a solitary man whose lungs are periodically pumped full air from a pneumatic ventilator. “How would Jesus feel this?” I query. Ironically, following with, “How can I feel His?“
Every instance of pain is different and every person faces pain differently. And while none really understands how God experiences our suffering, most of us want to be the savior of someone’s pain versus the one who will share their burden.
When contemplating pain, it may be helpful to know the artist. We need to lift our head from faith-based Biblical readings and grasp what’s happening. For instance, one cannot find catheter insertion in any Scripture Index. But by becoming humble, we can understand scripture’s uniformity of love – something more powerful and beautiful than anything ever created.
We’re never told the reason for pain. Outside of two celestial God’s playing a childish game of ‘… my people are better than yours,’ Job never learned of the reason for His pain. Neither men in rooms 652 or 204 nor the woman in room 314 will never know theirs. Accordingly, most will never discern what good, if any, our discomfort will create.
A monk said his chronic pain helped him to become more compassionate, courageous, and patient. For me, my personal potential for dignity is dependent upon experiencing that of others. My pain allows me an ability to cultivate awareness in a world in which many reside in shaded and textured lives, hiding from and in petty snits and anguish.
When we fall ill, we have unnoticed opportunities. By releasing the shadows of our life, we can present our body unto one another’s faith and become flooded with healing energy of love. This is the world I go willingly – where love’s purification penetrates and washes the soul. Only from within this lush canyon can I stare death in the face and annihilate it.
This form of living is very Buddhist and very Christian.