The Problem of Pain

But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!    Matthew 6:23

Beauty Beyond Bones posted a podcast on May 4, 2017 entitled, “Permission to Let Go.” She also has it in writing at her WordPress blog site.  Click Beauty Beyond Bones to see her work at WordPress.

If you are not familiar with her, Caralyn has just celebrated her 10th anniversary of recovery from anorexia.  She has blogged about her recovery since 2015 and is inspirational.  25,000+ followers think so.  I wrote an article about her IN January 2016, Beauty and the (ED) Beast, in case you’d like a fuller description.  If you really want the full impact of her ministry, start at the beginning.

But let’s get to the point and start with her podcast itself:

PODCAST – Permission to Let Go

As I listened to this, I didn’t have an immediate response. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a situation like what she describes, having a problem letting go of pain.  Or maybe I’m not self-aware enough!

After some time, an analogous situation came to mind. It was the opening scene from Star Trek: The Final Frontier.  Briefly, An alien man is digging holes in a windswept desert. He hears, then sees another man approaching on horseback. He runs for a gun of some sort, and faces the intruder, who we learn is a Vulcan named Sybok. Sybok dismounts and strides up to him and says he can’t believe the man would kill him over a field of empty holes. The pitiful answer comes: “It’s all I have!”

For Caralyn, and so many more, the pain is all they have. The pain is nothing more than a desert field, pockmarked with empty holes we keep drilling into it.  You might even say we are drilling those holes into our very selves.

We tend to be pretty tolerant folks, as was mentioned in America’s Declaration of independence:

“…experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

In other words, we’ll put up with pain so long as we perceive the cost of removing it is greater than the pain itself.

But what if the pain becomes our comfort?  What if, like a dog who lives most of his life in a kennel, we fear the open spaces and suffer voluntarily inside our cage?

Here is where the last part of that opening scene tells us so much, and yet so tragically misdirects us:

“Your pain runs deep. Let us explore it together.  Each man hides a secret pain.  It must be exposed and reckoned with.  It must be dragged from the darkness and forced into the light.  Share your pain.  Share your pain with me, and gain strength from the sharing.”

“Where did you get this power?”

“The power was within you.”

“The power was within you. You can save yourself.  You can do it.  You always could; I just showed you how.”

This happens so often in our modern culture. We are seduced by the pleasant-sounding reasoning which contains truth and yet uses it to support a lie.  The power to save us does not lie within us.  Eons of human history are ample proof of that.  We’ve found multiple ways to fly like birds, cross ground faster than a cheetah, harnessed the atom, and gone to the moon.  Several times.

You’d think that, somewhere in the last 6000 years, SOMEONE would have discovered the most elemental, simple answer to human misery: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  And while you’re at it, love your neighbor as yourself.  Period.  That’s it.  No muss, no fuss, don’t even add water.

But we don’t love ourselves. No, indeed.  We find ourselves comfy in our muck of pain.  Or maybe we’re so blinded by it that we can’t see any way out if it and are resigned to our “fate.”

Jesus is the only One who has the power to remove pain…and the sin that ensnares us. Jesus is the only One who could live a perfect life, never sin, and offer Himself up to one of the most gruesome  deaths ever concocted by man; His back flogged down to the bone, and then hung naked on a cross to suffocate under his own weight.  He took our punishment for us, even complete separation from God, the ultimate punishment.

Sybok was spot on right up till the end: “Each man hides a secret pain. It must be exposed and reckoned with.  It must be dragged from the darkness and forced into the light.  Share your pain.  Share your pain with me…”  says Jesus.  “…and gain strength from Me in the sharing.  Confess your sins, and bring your darkness to be exposed and defeated by My light.”

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.    Matthew 4:16

Caralyn really is the Beauty Beyond those Bones. But her Beauty is not her own.  It is a Light that shines from within.  Even on the written page.  Her witness, her ministry point relentlessly to Jesus as the One who took away her pain after she held into it for so terribly long.  Literally with a death grip.  She was 78 pounds when admitted to recovery and was within hours of death, so close that the nurses kept her in their nurses’ station her first night instead of her room.

How many bloggers garner 25,000+ followers at all, let alone in such a short time? And the growth is not slowing down.  It’s happening because Jesus shines through everything she does.

I won’t tell you that accepting Jesus will get you a successful blog! I will tell you that accepting His forgiveness and light into your life will make you a light yourself.  The pain/sin that you cling to – or that clings to you – can be vanquished.  The power is within…Jesus!

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3 thoughts on “The Problem of Pain

  1. Wow, Jeff. I am so humbled and grateful for these generous words. Thank you so much! Gosh, you are a great friend. I found myself nodding along to this post, saying “yes!” to all of what you wrote: Jesus *is* the only one who has the power to remove the pain. Amen amen amen! And I am so grateful for that healing and grace that He poured over my life when I was at that point of desperation. God is so good. And I love the Star Trek reference. We must expose and reckon with the pain. Such wisdom from such an unusual place. Thanks again for sharing my post and your reflection with your readers. I hope you have an awesome evening! hugs to you and julie!

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