Last week we had something very tragic happen in my extended family. It has caused so much pain for so many people and it has been heavy on my heart all week. It got me thinking about pain, and why it is a part of life.
My brother and I were talking a couple weeks ago about how our 20's were so full of hope. Who would we fall in love with? How many children would we have? We couldn't wait for our perfect lives to begin. Our 30's have been a realization of how difficult and painful life can be. It is saddening to look at life suddenly and realize the pain that we are surrounded by. Those perfect lives that we all dreamed about when we were young and full of hope seems a tad "off" from what reality has been. Don't get me wrong, I truly love life. But I have a different understanding of what life is all about. It is as much about pain and suffering and hardship as it is about joy and love and happiness. I can take one look at my grandmother and rattle off dozens of painful, sorrowful things that she has lived through in her long life. She is no stranger to pain, and still not immune to it, although she has certainly had her share. Yet she is smiling every time I see her. Yes, I have seen the tears fall from her eyes as she watches her children and grandchildren suffering in this life, but she knows how to push through and find the joy. I suppose it is because she knows that we have to seek out and live with joy, despite the pain this life brings to our door. Otherwise we would be a very sad group of people, wouldn't we?
I am no stranger to pain, although I have never experienced true loss. The kind that makes a hole in your heart. The kind where you would give anything to touch someone once again, or look into their eyes, or see their smile. That is my greatest fear in this life, a fear that surely will someday come to my door. There are a lot of people I love dearly. But as my mom said to me today, to take the pain out of death would be to take the love out of life. A trade that few people would be willing to make.
How are we to get through this life? As I looked at the faces of those in my family who are in such pain, I was reminded once again that Jesus suffered it all. The pain I see in their faces, He has felt. The sorrow that I know weighs down their hearts, He has felt. He willingly felt it so that He could understand our pain and help us through this life of suffering. Because don't we all have to pass this test to gain eternal life, the greatest of all gifts? So we have been given a mentor, an example, to see how he suffered, and endured, and was exalted. He not only suffered for our sins, but had to experience every sorrow and pain known to man. No wonder He bled from every pore. There was much to suffer. This He did freely out of love for us.
And so with the pain I see around me the last few years also comes an understanding of life that I am grateful for. Yes, it is hard. And beautiful. And oh so short. And after this life comes the reward that will make it all worth it. And we will leave the sorrow behind us, and there will only be joy, and we will know the beauty of that joy because of the pain and the sorrow we had to endure.
Love and prayers going out to my family in their sorrow. I am in awe of your strength despite the pain.