Sunday, June 28, 2015

Getting Used To Pain

There are different types of pain:  physical and spiritual, one-time and on-going, and natural or man-made.
The pain in my shoulder began a few weeks ago.  Twist my arm in a certain way and an extremely sharp pain screams from the joint and down my arm.  At first I expected it would go away, as most pains do, but last week I had it prayed over in hopes it would not prevent my playing in a charity golf outing last Monday.  It didn’t (praise God!), but I think I shall soon visit a doctor to see if he can work some healing --- or tell me that I have to get used to this pain.
Losing a loved one brings a different sort of pain.  For some, there is continuing worry about their loved one --- are they in heaven?  For some, death of a loved one creates a pain which it seems won’t ever go away.  And for some, the death of a loved one is a death to a part of themselves, and they struggle with feeling partly dead and partly alive.  I’ve lost parents, siblings, and many friends.  Each loss was a sudden pain, no matter how much you prepare for it.  In my experience, however, I’ve come to appreciate the truth and inevitableness of death; each time is not without pain, but I think each time the pain is a little less deep, and quicker to heal.  In a way, I guess, that is getting used to the pain of death.  But that pain, which comes to everyone, I wish to no one.
I recall certain painful events in my life:  divorce, rejection, and a sudden feeling of the loss of God.  I’ve come to see physical death as “natural,” albeit a painful thing, but these other painful events are not meant to be normal, and they are a pain not meant to be gotten used to.  They are spiritual pains you never get used to.  I’ve come to see that physical death is part of God’s plan, and I’ve come to accept His plans, but these other things seem to be part of man’s plans, and they can hurt more deeply.  Perhaps in some bigger picture I cannot see, God will make good out of even these pains, but I find that physical pain or even death is easier to get used to.
This week with the unfolding of the legal events in our country, I’ve felt a pain.  These are man-made events, and I’m inclined to describe the pain I feel as similar to that of divorce:  this is not normal; this was not meant to be.  I can’t see getting used to this pain.  God created man and woman, not some amorphous beings which can choose their gender.  He blessed marriage of one man and one woman.  God defined why He created man and woman.
But now some of God’s creations, like the angels cast out of heaven, have said they will be as God, putting their own definition on His creation.  And even as God felt pain at the loss of His angels --- and later Adam and Eve --- He planned on sending His Son, to make things right in all eternity.  So I am sure God has plans to make right, with justice (and mercy, we pray), these plans of men who reject His ways.
Looking back, even Sodom had a purpose in God’s plans.  There was rejection of God and His ways; then there came suffering, but ultimately there came new life to God’s people.  And He said:  “I will always be with you.” 
I’ve come to see death, the pains of loss, as part of life.  And now perhaps like Sodom, the events of this country also are part of a bigger plan for our life which we cannot yet see.  Yes, we feel pain, and perhaps we will be made of feel even more intense pains, but I trust God will make it right.
As I write this, it is Sunday after mass.  And I look up at the large crucifix above the altar.  And I see great pain there, pain that was certainly not meant to be, and yet became necessary because of the sinful will of man.  And so that pain had great purpose, in the plan of God.
Who am I to judge?  Who am I to, like Lot, demand that God explain what is happening in our country, our culture?  Is the pain I feel over recent events something normal like death, or something to never be forgotten, like divorce?  Will the hurt go away, or get worse?  I don’t know.  I shall continue to pray for humility, and I shall continue to pray:  “Jesus, I trust in You.”
I shall continue to try and mean, in my heart, what I pray.
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Do well what depends on me, and endure well what does not.  – Maximilian Kolbe
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“Be ye all of one mind.”  (1Pt 3:8-15)  St. Peter realizes that with our weakness and frailty we cannot preserve peace if we have no compassion for the faults of others, if we do not know how to be kind to those who displease us, and if we cannot bear blame with humility.  Anyone who pretends that in achieving a life of perfect harmony with others, he need never suffer any annoyance or displeasure, and that he need never be contradicted or upset, has very little experience of the reality of life and forgets that, far from being pure spirits, we are limited by matter. 
It even happens that sometimes, without wishing it and without even the shadow of a bad intention, we work against one another.  The remedy for these inevitable failures, when the limitations of our nature are the cause of mutual distress, is that suggested by St. Augustine:  “Let more room be given to charity.”  … Let us likewise practice greater humility, in order to overcome the resentments of our self-love.  Even if someone does act against us with ill will, we should know how to forgive him.
                                    -- Divine Intimacy, P649, Fifth Sunday After Pentecost 

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