One of my friends has a loved one who suffers from chronic, unrelenting pain, a physical issue that rarely ebbs and can’t be controlled by medications (since the guy chooses to remain aware of and active in the world around him). The man has a family and wants to hold onto his job, even though working sometimes pushes the limit of his capabilities. When his pain – on the scale of 1 to 10 – reaches 11, relief won’t come with pat answers or “I feel your pain” catchphrases. Impossible as it is to adequately understand someone else’s pain, we’ve all had occasions where our own pain has seemed momentarily unendurable. A woman in labor for thirty hours knows the pain and exhaustion that are usually relieved upon delivery. But even a minuscule splinter can cause terrible and unremitting pain which one might consider unendurable … until the splinter is removed. (I suppose in that sense we must conclude pain is relative.) Continue reading “A Devouring Angel of Light”
The anniversary of 9/11 … there are few people in the country unaware of the significance of this date. I touched on the anniversary in a post earlier this month and there are media presentations and blog posts aplenty to commemorate this day, so I won’t presume an ability to outshine them. I simply pay tribute to the heroes, both men and women, who ran toward danger. I honor their courage and heroism.
The human mind has an amazing facility to distance itself (almost immediately) from horrific events. Yes, we remember where we were on certain dates, what we were doing, and specifically, how awful we felt watching the drama of 9/11 unfold before our eyes, but our minds are driven to minimize painful details. When it comes to the 9/11 attack, a paternalistic media abets the mind’s intense inclination to forget; they mostly refused to replay any videos related to that day.
In my view, pain – even the pain of unpleasant events being replayed – is important. I’m reminded of a book Philip Yancey wrote back in 1977 titled Where Is God When It Hurts? Yancey related his experiences in a leper colony where people suffering from leprosy lost their normal ability to feel pain. Absent the natural ability to feel pain, their bodies deteriorated and became distorted. As Yancey described the diseased people with whom he worked, he asserted that pain is a gift from God, part of the way we were created and terribly important to our survival. Continue reading “The Gift Nobody Longs For”