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Three Possible Responses to Great Pain

Three possible responses to great pain:

My own tend to be an uneven mixture of these, and not just one to the exclusion of the others (I think the same is likely true of most of us) 😃

FIRST: Do everything we can to NUMB, salve or eclipse the pain, whether by drugs, alcohol, intense pleasure-seeking, self-indulgence (including more innocent "comfort food," "my tunes," etc.), or more positive, "therapeutic" approaches of various kinds.

SECOND: Draw more and more inward, throwing all focus on the pain; which may lead to extreme self-protectiveness, a "martyr complex," an obsessive exaltation of one's own "rights," a tendency to lash out quickly at others over any perceived threat (desperately striving to fortify ourselves against further pain of any kind).

THIRD: "Run towards the roar" (Levi Lusko; "Through the Eyes of a Lion"); Face the pain, head-on; EXPERIENCE the pain, BUT WITH our Precious Savior, the Great Shepherd (Psalm 23:1-4) RIGHT beside us, KNOWING that He has allowed this for His eternal purpose (II Timothy 1:8-9; Romans 5:3-5; 8:28-30), and it is ours to be "exercised" by (Hebrews 12:11) that His perfect intent might be realized in us to the fullest degree.

Certainly, our Lord's preference (by an epic El Nino landslide!) is the THIRD.

A great part of that perfect intent is the very opposite of response two. Rather than insulate ourselves by fleeing into our own self-made fortress ("I am a Rock; I am an Island;" Paul Simon, 1966), we let our own intimate acquaintance with pain make us more acutely aware of and sensitive to the suffering OF OTHERS.

This is the Great Onus of II Corinthians 1:3-7 (quoting only verse 3-4 here, but do take the time to mull over all of it, at your leisure!): "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, THE FATHER OF MERCIES, AND THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."

This does not occur automatically. We must find the courage to choose it.

The negative half of this is eloquently and succinctly put by Karen Armstrong:

"Look into your own heart; Discover what it is that gives you pain. And then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, To inflict that pain on anybody else."

Of course, the principle is even better stated in Holy Writ:

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12).

"Let NOTHING be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other BETTER than themselves.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Philippians 2:3-4).

May we find our sufficiency IN HIM for these things (II Corinthians 3:5)!

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