One of my favorite authors, Jane Kirkpatrick, writes about “focus” in her Kinship and Courage Series novels. She uses it to describe more than clarity, looking at the Latin root meaning “hearth”, that which warms a person to the center of their being.
I like thinking about that in terms of God, how He is my focus. Not just helping me see more clearly, but to feel more clearly. His warmth comforts and energizes. Food prepared at the hearth fire nourishes. He feeds me.
Even with that comfort, pain is a constant. Somewhere I saw a quote indicating that the pain in the past lessens when we face forward. I’m not sure that’s true. Why is it, anyway, that we want the people around us to be pain free? Maybe pain is a constant, never-ending reality in this life. And our desire for the absence of pain in others is to avoid admitting our powerlessness in eradicating it.
According to Genesis there’s no maybe about it. God told Adam he’d have pain all his life. Maybe we’re not supposed to seek the absence of pain. Maybe we’re supposed to continue on in the pain. Maybe the triumph is in persevering in spite of the pain. Physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, whatever and wherever the pain, or the cause. Accept the pain instead of trying to escape it.
But I’m not to let pain define me. I am not this painful shoulder that wakes me in the night. Or the fingers that allow me to drop things. Or the wounded heart that pangs with memories. They belong to me, but I don’t belong to them. They might restrict my movements but I don’t have to let them restrict my attitudes or let them be an excuse to hurt the people around me.
In the midst of my greatest difficulties, my belief in God develops. That’s where my faith really begins—in my pain and anxiety and angst. I found this verse one day when I was wondering if my pains were from a lack of faith. “I believed in you, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, Lord.” (Psalm 116:10, NLT) It is because I believe in Him that I can tell Him about my struggles.
Pain will have an end, to be sure. God’s going to handle that. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelations 21:3-5, NLT) Well, hurray for that! Makes me want to put on my red hat and do the happy dance!