Pain and Hope

I think that hoping is one of the hardest things to keep doing. In life it is the thing that keeps us reaching out for beauty, for love, for healing and so often the hand that is extended in hope is withdrawn, burnt. I feel like, in my life, I am tormented and inspired by a vision of the world (and a vision of my life) that could have so much more joy in it yet so often seems to retreat from me as I run toward it.

I remember hearing Chris Marchall speak once on the Beatitudes.  In particular one thing he said that has moved me deeply ever since is his understanding of what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are those who mourn…” Chris felt that this is the call to stay present to the world that isn’t. That is the world that isn’t all it could be, all it should be. Chris felt that part of following Jesus is being open to feeling the injustice and pain that weighs down the world and grieving for it.

It seems to me that in some ways it is easier to lie down and accept the world we find ourselves in as it is. The option is certainly there. The anaesthetic sleep of fitting in with “the way things are” such as how our culture trains us to be good little units of economic production is, I feel, the less painful path. It is however the path of a slow and painless death.

And here I find a truth that is core to my life. That when I make ANY decision out of a desire to avoid pain instead of out a desire to follow love than I die a little bit. I was going to say, “I would not say that the decision to follow love always takes us down a path where pain lives but it does a significant part of the time.” but I as I consider this I realise that pain always follows love. Whenever we make a decision to care it becomes inevitable that somewhere down this part we will suffer heartache.

I think it is worth it. When I am sick or tired, when I am in the midst of pain, it is easy to lose sight of hope but I find that most of the time the beauty that I see through the door that hope and love opens is worth all the pain it necessitates. I suspect in fact that the decision to stay open to the grief for a world in pain (and our own pain) is the thing that opens us to joy. I believe that Jesus’ promise is not for the future but for now.

“Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted”


One Response to “Pain and Hope”

  1. Heather Says:

    I so agree!!

    Sometimes I’ve had to dip out of loving as the pain is too much. E.g. after a patch of many losses – my mum became clinically depressed and needed my care, my brother left NZ permanently, a lifelong friend killed himself, another friend was brain-damaged to the point of not being ‘there’ any more, several other friends died or went overseas etc. – I made no new friends for some years. Love became loss, and loss became crippling pain.

    But over time I was able to open up and care again. I know profoundly that to love and to care is to hurt. And I limit my exposure to knowledge of others’ pain (my restricted ‘use’ of the news again, in particular) in order that I will be able to respond in caring.

    Jesus walks with us in this pain, and gives us strength to hope and love and carry on.

    –Heather 🙂

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