A while back, I started to read C.S. Lewis’ book, The Problem with Pain. But at the time, I wasn’t IN much pain, so I lost interest and moved on. The other day I was wishing I had read it.
This last week, I was in a great deal of pain. I had a four-day migraine. It came and went, and was super bad at the beginning. Like puke-in-the-sink my-head-might-explode bad.
All I could think of at first was, “whhhhy?”
“Why God, would you allow this to happen? I thought I was healed? I really was! I’m so disappointed!”
Also, I just told like the whole internet that you healed me, soooo, that’s pretty awkward. What am I suppos-to say?
Not like God is ruled by what goes onto the internet, that’s for sure, but I felt kinda crappy about the fact that I just finally announced my big healing news and was super stoked, and then I came back from a church retreat and I got a few headaches that week, and then one very enormous migraine the following week.
As my toddler would say, “supa lame.”
Here is what I do know, and why I am actually sharing this. Because my life trails are not all that important in your world, however, some of the stuff I learn during them has been life changing for me, so I want to share.
On Tuesday, after I got over my pity party, I took some ibuprofen and thanked Jesus that he helped people invent medicine to make me feel slightly better when I’m sick. I then ate, and took a nap and threw away any guilt I was feeling that I wasn’t healed, or didn’t trust God enough to heal me and not take medicine. I was able to go out to dinner that night with some friends, and felt mostly fine.
I woke up the next morning, at like 3:30 am, feeling nauseous and back in pain.
After praying for awhile for other stuff, I finally got the nerve to ask God what was up. And although he didn’t answer me why I had to go through the pain I was going through, he did tell me the following. It has changed how I see Jesus completely.
He showed it to me in a word picture, as he almost always does when he speaks to me outside of the bible or a sermon or whatever.
Here is the word picture followed by what I felt like was insight he gave me:
I am in like basically the visual of outer space, it’s black. There is a clear very large box. I am inside this box and it is able to seal completely, so nothing can get into it unless it is opened. I can’t open it. In the box, along with myself is what I call sunlight dust particles, the dust you see in the air when the sunlight hits it right. In this word picture, they are pain particles. Small particles, that God the Father allowed into my box, and is allowing me to feel. He is outside of my box. He said that he knows every single one, he knows the number, the size the weight of them all. He didn’t let one more speck into my box than necessary. He said he knows my pain better than I do, he can see it from top from bottom, from inside and out, every angle. In moments where I forget my pain, he still is aware of it. So I’m like, okay, but why? I hate this box.
Then, I see Jesus in my box.
He feels everything I feel. He feels the same exact pain I feel. We feel it together. He allows himself to feel the same pain, every ounce, every nanosecond of it, so that he is always acutely aware of what I am feeling. Even if I forget for a moment, he is always aware of it.
I have never thought of this before. I always thought when the bible says, “he was a man of many sorrows, he was a man of great pain” it was just talking about his physical life on earth, which was indeed full of pain and sorrow. I always thought he could relate to our pain, like, “yeah, there was this one time that one of my best friends totally betrayed me to death in front of all my bros, it was super lame, I got arrested and beat up so I TOTALLY know how you feel when you say that you can’t believe so-and-so tweeted blah, blah, blah about you and now everyone’s hatin’, I get it.” And sometimes I’d think, How DO you know what those little kids being trafficked actually feel like, you were never actually trafficked as a kid.
What this word picture was showing me, was that no, Jesus actually allows himself to feel my very exact pain. Now whether he really does or not, I do not know, this was a word picture to teach me something about how God works and who his son is. However, I am inclined to believe that this is an actual truth.
If my littlest one had to experience something painful to make her well, and it was in my ability to feel it to, I would. I would want to know exactly what it felt like, so I would know how to help her, how to console her, and give her the understanding that she was not alone, that truly, we were going through it together. Any loving parent would do this if they could.
When Jesus says he walks with us through our trails, I don’t think he is just walking alongside us in ease, although he is God, it seems more like he allows himself to experience the very thing we experience, however painful, however sad, however deep and cutting to our soul.
In this word picture, he and I were head to head, and all I could do was put my head next to his. At least we were together in this pain, I was not alone. It seemed the more I focused on him, the less painful it became, he was almost a distraction from the pain, and then just like that the box was gone, and we were out of it together.
Here is what I have learned so far, and it’s really early, but it’s what he is showing me.
Jesus knows my pain, because he goes through my pain alongside me, with me. He’s not drinking a slurpee while I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, just holding my hand. No, he’s walking alongside me, knowing my great suffering, we are suffering together. He is choosing to put aside any luxuries he is given and rights as God and walks alongside me through everything.
When I pray, and I ask for God the Father to take away the pain, he sees his own son, Jesus bearing that pain as well, and his heart is moved to action.
Also, when I looked back at that box, I could see that there were times I’d sit in the corner of it and scream. Totally unaware of Jesus’ presence. I bang the box with my fists hard. I cry and fight and yell at God, believing all the while that he is outside of my box feeling nothing.
Whether we want to recognize him or not, Jesus is still in our box. He’s always been in our box, it’s just that so many of us fail to look up and see him there. We are too busy looking at God the Father outside of our box and getting angry and feeling betrayed, doubting his goodness. But he didn’t have to send his son.
It also seems Jesus the only way out of that box.
If God allows suffering to bring us closer to Jesus, than this would be true. As we draw near to him, the one who knows our great pain, we can find ourselves rescued and delivered. And, although he may not ever take away all the pain here on earth, we can find rest in the son, because scripture says it is so.
So, I was in pain for four days. But I walked out of it seeing that Jesus is always with me. That is a gift I could never have hoped to have been given. I don’t know that I will ever walk through pain the same.
It’s one thing for someone to say, I can relate to your pain. At least that’s nice, and empathetic.
It’s another thing entirely for them to take it on themselves and walk through it alongside you, when they don’t owe you a thing.
He’s in your box y’all.