Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Living with Lewis: Another's Pain

The only thing worse than being in pain is watching someone you love in pain. Or at least that’s how it is for me. And now I’m dating someone with a chronic illness that sometimes flares up, causing incredible pain and agony. It’s excruciating to watch, to sit there and not be able to do anything except hold a hand and pray. Another flare means another trip to the unfortunately-familiar local emergency room. And as I sit there, I know I would do just about anything so that I could take the pain away. I wish I could take it myself. But I can’t.
One thing I’ve found is that sometimes it’s not your own pain but the pain of others’ that is hardest to bear. From the midst of pain, I may cry out in frustration, I may question God’s goodness, but I can endure. I know that good will come from it. I trust that this too shall pass. But when it’s another, someone else, not me, and I sit there, wishing I could take the pain and crying out to God for relief on their behalf, trust is harder. The small voice in the back of my mind cries out, “God, if you are good, how can you bear this? I am selfish, imperfect, and not good, and yet I would give anything to take this pain, but I can’t. You can. How do you not act? If you are good, why don’t you do something?”
I came across this the other day in A Grief Observed:
“Yet this is unendurable. And then one babbles- ‘If only I could bear it, or the worst of it, or any of it instead of her (Lewis’ wife).’ But one can’t tell how serious that bid is, for nothing is staked on it. If it suddenly became a real possibility, then, for the first time, we should discover how seriously we had meant it. But is it ever allowed?
It was allowed to the One, we are told, and I find I can now believe again, that He has done vicariously whatever can be so done. He replies to our babble, ‘You cannot and you dare not. I could and dared.”
I think sometimes that he has done more than we will ever be able to imagine.

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