A couple of our authors have blogged in the past about pain, both emotional and physical. Henry Nouwen, who was a Dutch Catholic priest, writer and theologian believed that pain is something we can use. He said:
“Your pain is the concrete way in which you participate in the pain of humanity.”
According to Nouwen, we have two choices when it comes to pain.
- We can focus on the specific circumstances of our own pain, which can easily lead us into anger, resentment and even vindictiveness.
- We can move from my pain to the pain. We can realize that our particular pain is only a share in humanity’s pain. This view allows us to forgive and enter into a truly compassionate life. It makes our suffering easier to bear.
The second option is the way that Jesus took when he prayed on the cross:
“Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
If we are good stewards of our personal pain, we will come to understand and appreciate the pain of others. We can let pain teach us to be more like Jesus. He suffered pain to save us from the ultimate pain of separation from God. How are you using your pain? Have you let it make you bitter? Or better?