New Idea

Pain is a terrible master, but more so if there is no purpose found in it’s existance. Perhaps pain is God’s way of turning us outward- despite the fact that it is experienced in such excruciating solitude. Bearing witness to another person’s pain is just as important as medical palliation, and in some cases may in itself lift the burden of suffering. God is described as “Adonai ro’ee” (‘God sees’). To bear witness is a powerful act. Job’s friends watched his suffering- but from a standpoint of judgement rather than from a place of compassion. Perhaps Job HAD had it too easy. Perhaps in his comfortable state he had forgotten or grown indifferent to the sorrows and trials of those around him. We cannot know the whole story- but the hidden, shadowy aspect of what appears to be the deliberate inflicting of suffering flies against everything we believe and embrace about the goodness of God. Unless we can trust that His goodness works in the dark, much like the germination of a seed under frozen soil, we tremble with fear. But from the death of seed springs forth the life of leaf, stem, and flower. So maybe the thing that I fear is not so much the pain itself, but the possibility that I might be crushed by it, lose control, lose face, and sit under the judgement of Job’s friends. The potency of suffering may swallow the end by its means. But He has promised not to break the bruised reed or quench the smoking flax. If pain has a purpose, then bring it on in it’s pre-determined measure. Surely if Jesus prayed “let this cup pass from me”, I am permitted to request reprieve (for myself and others) if it be God’s will. Job’s tribulation-from heaven’s perspective- was not for his sake alone. Nor was Job ever granted the satisfaction of a ‘why’. To look for reasons why only wastes time that might be spent providing much needed solace.

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