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Pain…

I know people in incredible pain right this moment.  

What do you do besides being broken along side of them?

How is it that we can talk so much within the church about how to love, without also sharing about how to grieve?  

How is it that there can be such a fine line between tremendous joy and deep mourning?  Life can turn on a dime and the whole world seems upside down.  

what do you do, and who are you to be, in crazy times like these?

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Parke September 30, 2008, 5:38 pm

    Life is a crazy thing sometimes isn’t it? There’s so much that, like Job, we don’t know and trust God for. I don’t have a ton of new things, but I try to do the basics that I largely adjust in each situation.
    – verbally appreciate how painful this must be as appropriate
    – physically be with the person as much as appropriate
    – make a strong effort to be aware of what things must happen in the midst of crisis that they may not be thinking of. (help plan the funeral, keep the person focused on the job search they must start the next day, make sure they have the rides, food and help they need)
    – encourage younger friends around the person to be aware of these things
    – volunteer to take their place or do what can be done
    – gently shoo away some folks who ask all the wrong questions
    – in the passing of a loved one look for opportunities to talk about how peacefully they died, how great it was to have their family around or how much of a difference they made when appropriate

    and sometimes

    – just stay out of the way since i’m the guy asking all the wrong questions. usually more than one or two close friends helping in a crisis is hard for a hurting person to manage.

  • Jeremy Cox September 30, 2008, 6:27 pm

    “For many sacrificial years physician Dr. Paul Brand had been working with Leprosy patients in India , seeking to at least discover ways of reducing the effects of the disease if not finding a cure for them. What he discovered was almost as revolutionary as a cure: One of the oldest known and perhaps most notorious diseases in history has been misunderstood for thousands of years.

    Until Dr. Brand’s work (the most ground breaking fruits of which occurred in the fifties) physicians had thought that the deformed limbs, blindness, gangrene, etc. of Lepers were all directly caused by the disease. Dr. Brand discovered, however, that the disease attacks only the millions of pain receptors in our body, while leaving the rest of our tissue undamaged. Because they do not feel any pain, the leper will regularly place their hands on hot stoves, or allow a paper cut to become infected until gangrene sets in and the foot or hand must be amputated.”

    “Leprosy strips the victim of the gift of pain that acts as an alarm system blaring incessantly until it is heard. When a healthy person catches the flu or gets a cut, their pain receptors force them to drop everything else that they are doing and deal with the situation until the pain goes away and the body returns to health. Conversely, Lepers have no insistent alarm system, and will therefore allow minor infections to develop into horrifically debilitating catastrophes even though they may be aware of the problem. Yet because it does not hurt they allow the infection to continue. They may see the problem but they do not feel it.”

    He goes on to discuss how when Jesus would heal lepers, they would be healed by being able to feel pain again. I think in our culture pain is demonized and we do all we can to avoid it, but this just causes us to suffer greater injury. Pain can be a gift because it can indicate something subsurface or visible that we are ignoring that needs attention. This also has great implications when we who are in the body of Christ and are privileged see but ignore (because we don’t want to feel) the pain of the body in other parts of the world or even our own neghborhoods.

    Check out Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants by Philip Yancey and Dr Paul Brand. Also In the Image of God (by the same two) foes into quite a bit of detail about how pain helps maintain the connectedness of the body (both a physical body and the Church body).

  • Steve OKC September 30, 2008, 10:19 pm

    It’s easy to stay in the “Christian ghetto” and talk about serving and never go serve. For too long “the Church” has made spectators and philosophers, instead of disciples/followers of Jesus.

    To simply follow Jesus, right here – right now. That’s what matters.
    http://www.livewickmedia.com/

  • Lon October 1, 2008, 7:49 am

    Parke – thanks for the practical advice!

    Jeremy – thanks for the helpful reminder, i’ve been introduced to paul brand’s work before, and there are definitely lots of insights to work through there!

    steve – thanks for dropping a comment!

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