monkey-fishI’m working through three questions from Dave Gibbons from the book the Monkey and the Fish (I posted question #1 on Sunday night) “What is my pain” is the second question that Gibbons suggests that we ask as we seek direction for our lives and for our church. He writes about how some of the most important moments in our lives come through pain. The easiest example is that of Jesus. Salvation came through brutal death on the cross.

Our world of comfort however, seems to not like or value pain so much and we would do well to consider it more carefully.

He writes,

“I think South American and Easter countries can help us with our theology and lifestyle. They not only think of resurrection day but also have a theology of suffering and pain. It’s not just about the resurrection; its about Via Dolorosa – the way of suffering. Its about the journey of pain to the cross.

It seems that we’ve done a good job of domesticating the gospel in the west by thinking that following Jesus is all about the good life, being fulfilled and being happy (overstatement i know, but there is some truth to this).

But, Dave is getting at the fact that the pain that we carry with us is often the very thing that God uses to bring hope to others.

He writes,

“Personally, as I’ve periodically inventoried my life, I’ve listed all the painful moments, the moments of sadness and suffering involving the people in my life. My parent’s divorce. My mom’s death at the hands of a drunken driver. My being told in college at a Christian University that i couldn’t see my girlfriend because I was Asian-American and she was Caucasian. Friends who’ve left me feeling betrayed or disillusioned. I’ve realized again and again that my pain was a gift from God. As I’ve met people around the world and shared my pain with them, it is the pain that draws people in, far more so than my limited talents, skills, and accomplishments. It disarms all the things that can be used to divide us – race, economics, culture, politics, nationalism, dogma, language.”

he finishes this section by saying,

“It’s worth remembering ourselves that Jesus didn’t come from a line of professional clergy and had no social pedigree. He came from real, flawed people who weren’t necessarily proud of their past and didn’t like their pain, but he embraced them and, by faith, saw something far better come from them.”

Amen to that.

So, what is your pain?