"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
~ Isaiah 43:2
I wish that I could say that we could live our entire lives without knowing pain. When our son and his wife recently lost their child, as my son shared that the doctor, "Could not find a heart beat," my first words to him were, "One thing is for certain. This child only knew love."
Hiding our pain is something we all seem to know something about. Each day we encounter people who have experienced spiritual, emotional, physical and even mental pain. Finding a way to make our pain a source of healing for others, takes time, understanding, and the allowing of our own pain to be worked through.
Even in our own sacred texts, the narratives of loss, pain, woundedness and suffering serve as reminders to us that life is simply not easy at times.
As living instruments of a God who has known pain, through the wounds of Christ, we are reminded that healing can take place, even when we are experiencing loss. The man hanging on the cross beside a dying Jesus is assured that, "Today you shall be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
Yesterday as I spent time with a daughter of a patient of mine who is beginning her transition from this life to the next, she shared of the painful milestones the person had experienced in her life. She became tearful as she spoke of her mother finally being able to, "be at peace," after a lifetime of pain that came from physical disabilities, the infidelity of a spouse, to the loss of a child. Her experiences had become a source of strength, but at the end of life, being able to talk of these moments had become a source of healing as the daughter realized that her mother would finally be healed of these experiences and be made whole in her dying.
It is in pain that we discover the strength we possess as both one who has experienced pain and one who has become a source of healing to others. It is almost as if our pain makes us one with each other. In our pain and woundedness, we can be brought to a place where we are able to share our humanity with one another, and even find joy in the midst of our own experiences.
There was some comfort for the daughter who realized that her mother would never again experience pain, and for me to able to tell her it was, "Okay," to express these words also empowered her to move forward, even as her mother dying.
Even in our pain we can experience the quiet joy of being there for someone else, while reminding us that we are connected in more ways than we can name.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.