Archives For God

Rethinking Pain

August 4, 2014

pain1There’s the story of a Rabbi who told his students that if they studied the Torah it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?” The Rabbi answered, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your hearts, and then when your hearts break, the holy words fall inside.” *

This I know: Truth doesn’t crack my heart. Pain does. Truth doesn’t bring wisdom. Pain that awakens me to Truth, does. I once believed a great sermon, a Christian best-seller, and a study on “Humility” would make me more humble, more forgiving, and more loving. It was never enough. It has taken pain to break my heart so God’s Truth would fall inside.

Celebrity actor Rob Lowe wrote, “You stop growing emotionally the very moment you become famous.” ** How so? Many celebrities spend millions to shield themselves from pain. They surround themselves with “yes” people. Yet, when the emptiness of celebrity sets in, or when they reach the point of near self-destruction, they take off to the Near East to sit at the feet of a Guru. They hope for a fast-track to wisdom, meaning, “truth,” or maturity.  But it never works. At least not for long….

This I’ve learned: Wisdom is not about avoiding or numbing pain. Wisdom is learning from it, growing in it, becoming stronger for it, and more dependent on Jesus because of it. Wisdom is using pain to build more wisdom into my life and make Jesus more glorious through my life. In many ways it still takes pain not only to break my heart so that the Truth would fall inside, but more so that Jesus would forever reign there. 

 

* As shared by Anne Lamott in her book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

** Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe

 

refinersfire1aThere was a little figurine on a pedestal in a shop. A spotlight shined upon it. It was a glorious figurine. It was the centerpiece of the shop. People would come by all day and marvel at its beauty.

One night a lonely young boy going through great hardship was the last to leave the shop. He paused on the way out to wonder at the figurine. The boy began to cry. The figurine came to life! It said, “What’s wrong my young friend?” The boy replied: “I’d give anything to be like you. I’m a mess-up. I feel broken. I can’t take it anymore. I wish I could be just like you.”

The figurine shook his head and said, “You don’t understand. If up to me, I would be like everything else in this shop. Or, I’d still be a lump of metal in a pile of rubble. You see, my maker found me. He chose me from all the other metal and rubble. He said, “Hello, little one. I love you. You’re mine.”

I was so thrilled! Until… he put me in a furnace!   It hurt so badly! I cried out, “What are you doing? I thought you loved me! This hurts! Stop it!” He whispered, “Shhhhh, little one. Trust Me. I’m not done with you yet.”

Then He started hammering on me this way and that! I said, “I can’t take it! Please stop. How could you love me?! This hurts!” He said, “Trust Me. I’m not done with you yet.”

Then, he put me in the furnace, again! I could see through the flames and the window on the furnace door all the other rubble and metals. They did not have a care in the world. And here I am… IN THE FIRE? I shouted through the flames, “How could you? I thought you were going to take care of me? What kind of maker are you? You are cruel! This is unbearable.” He spoke to me again: “I know you doubt me right now, little one. You doubt my heart for you. Trust me. I’m not done with you yet.”

Out of the fire, and into more hammering, more grinding, more scouring, more bending. I nearly hated him for it. And as I looked at him speechless now, too far gone for words, He smiled at me, but it was a pained smile; a smile with tears running down his face. He whispered: “I know it hurts. But I promise you it is going to be worth it. I’m not done with you yet.”

And then one day… it was over. It was dark. Suddenly, the lights blazed on. And all the lights were fixed on… me.  My maker gazed at me in awe. Then he laughed out. Tears filled his eyes, but this time tears of joy. Then he danced. He clapped. He clapped as he danced. He stood still again and just marveled at me. It was then I saw my reflection in His eyes. I could not believe it. That was… me? Now, I understood.

He saw his reflection in my eyes. He laughed out. He said, “Little one, did I not promise you it was going to be worth it?” And he placed me on this pedestal in the center of his shop for all to see.

So don’t wonder at me. My maker is the wonder. He is the marvel. My maker loved me so much that he did whatever it took to bring me to this place of glory and joy.

My young friend, your Maker is doing the same with you. What you are going through is going to be worth it. So trust Him…

He’s not done with you yet.

 

 

*  I heard a version of this parable back in the 90’s in a college chapel by a speaker whose name I have since forgotten. His version involved a “tea cup.”  I took the parable and reworked it to share in my sermon “Fire” in the “Going through the motions series” at Grace Community Church. You can listen to the sermon, HERE

** Malachi 3:3; Romans 8:28-29

A gift two times over: One, the adoption of our girls, Marni Veronika and Jubilee Larissa, from an orphanage in Ukraine a tad over a year ago; and two, our dear and incredibly talented friend, Austin Abbott, who was waiting at our home with other friends and family to capture the girls homecoming on film. Thank you, Austin, for this wonderful gift to our family this Christmas!

And thank you, family and friends, for taking the time to watch this six minute film and enjoy this gift with us. If you want the back story, details, struggles, joys, tears, and miracles of God as we experienced it during our adoption journey, click HERE

(To view more of Austin’s work go HERE.)