Friday, December 21, 2012

The Reality of Pain

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15, NIV

A week ago today, the unthinkable happened.  Twenty precious, young school children were brutally murdered along with six of their faithful faculty in Newtown, Connecticut.  Among the dead were a young boy with special needs who perished along with his aid as she cradled him in her armsNo matter how you look at it, even taking into account that it happened so close to Christmas, words can barely express the depth of heartbreak.

Not quick to write about the tragedy, I pondered this massacre throughout the week. I found myself feeling or being made to feel notably guilty about my own grief in recent days.  Every-other person's comments seemed to be punctuated with, "Well, at least YOUR child is still alive!" or "At least you'll have YOUR child with you for Christmas."  I got the distinct impression that I was wrong to have pain in my heart from the suffering of my own child over the last month.  I dare not express the grief I revisit over the fact that life will never be as we had hoped for our children.  The exhaustion, mental confusion and stress that are a natural byproduct of our unrelenting doctor's visits, hospital visits and trauma over the past month dare not be revealed.

It suddenly occurred to me, Why do we humans think our pain or suffering is any less because another suffers?  I do not intend to diminish the agony of having a loved one suddenly ripped away from us without notice.  I know that pain too well.  But is the pain of watching the child you love suffer for decades any less serious a pain?  Are those dreams that will never come to past any less grieved?

Anyone who understands grief knows that it isn't in the immediate term that one lacks for the care and compassion of others.  It is the long haul that becomes so isolating.  When the perceived trauma grows more distant, so seemingly is the concern and tenderness of others.  Well-wishes end.  Meals stop coming.  Others expect the grieving to "get over it."  Sadly, there are some things that we can only move on from, but never get over.

What if, as special needs parents, that understanding of grief, the reality of pain in our lives, made us better soldiers of Christ to comfort parents like those in Newtown?  The organization I have the privilege to run believes that we are blessed to be a blessing.  We are firm believers in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 which proclaims, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (NIV)  

The loss of a child is an incomprehensible pain, especially near the Christmas holiday.  What if rather than feeling guilty about the reality of our own pain or diminishing the pain of another, we invested the comfort and compassion God has given us into comforting another?  What if we realized our own suffering or the suffering of another is a significant burden.  If we are tenderly ministered to by another, then pass that same kindness on, God can complete His magnificent recycling of our sorrow for good.  Now THAT would be a gift that would last far beyond Christmas!

PRAY:  Lord, I regret having added to the pain of another person by diminishing their grief.  With Your Holy Spirit power alone, I commit to comforting others in their sorrow with the same compassion I have been given, so that Your glory may be on display for all to see.

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