Redeeming pain.

October 23, 2010

After dropping my cousin off this morning, I perused through my iPod, looking for a sermon for the drive home.  I’d been reading through Jeremiah, so I hit “play” when I saw Rick Holland’s The Sovereignty of Jeremiah’s God.  And usually, if a sermon goes longer than my drive, I’ll hit “pause” and resume it on the next drive; but not this time.  The car stopped.  The iPod didn’t.

In the sermon, Rick Holland read a letter he wrote on Christmas Eve of 1999 to his then 3-weeks old son, Mark.  Mark had contracted a deadly staph infection through his umbilical cord and was fighting for his life.  In the torment of hearing Mark’s cries of pain from the infection, needles, and various medical procedures, Rick wrote:

Lots of questions reverberating in my mind, Mark.  Why?  Why now?  Why you?  Why us? But I’ve known our Father for too long to demand any answers.  The reality is, you’ll never remember any of this, but your mother and I will never forget it.  It won’t just be the facts about this event that will linger, but rather a parabolic insight that will resonate from Christmas ‘99.

In this parable, I see myself and you, vulnerable, susceptible, sick, need life-saving help, all the while clueless to either condition or cure.  All you sense is discomfort, pain – the pain that escapes reason or reasonableness … Though language does not yet grace your consideration, Mark, these pains most certainly do.  You’re growing to hate the nurses’ presence and disdain your parents’ absence.  Simply put, Mark, you’re not getting your way.  Yet it’s in the very presences and absences that the healing can find residence.  The nurses and doctors mean you no harm in their dreadful trade.  The pain and discomfort you sense are not mean and meaningless but rather the only way that you’ll live.  And as I watch you struggle against the doctors’ healing hands, I recognize that I also fight and struggle against my Physician’s hand – and His is the hand of God.  The wonder of this picture or parable is that the healing so many times involves intentional pain by the healer. If there were no initial pain, we would never know the problem, and the pain of healing forces us to look past the hurt and ask questions of the healer.  And that, my little son, is good.

Well, my tired ramblings are really a sermon to myself to never distrust God and to love Him in the middle and even because of the pain.  No matter how much life hurts, He is the great Physician, healing my sinful flesh to be conformed more to the image of Christ. And in that, your pain, Mark, is my pain is God’s pain, to help me become more worthy, for the pain of our dear Savior to heal all pain.

There is a Redeemer. He is working out His unchanged plan of redemption, not merely in spite of but even through pain.

And His shall be the last word.


2 Responses to “Redeeming pain.”

  1. AJ Lee Says:

    ahhh! how did i wait so long to read this! What an amazing picture or description of our own trials/struggles in life. We fight against the healing hand time and time again, but the amazing things is His hand never goes away.

    Thanks for the encouraging post.

  2. tia Says:

    yea dude … so thankful His determination to sanctify and conform us to Christ’s image doesn’t fluctuate with ours. our Rock rocks. :]

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