Coming back to India always increases my awareness to enveloping pain. India has more on display yet the pain so visible here is just as present anywhere I turn. Families are struggling to cope with tragedies and debilitating life shortening diseases with cycles measured in days and weeks instead of lifetimes. Individuals buckle under the strain of over commitment and the toll that it extracts physically, mentally, and in the relationships that they touch. Society lurches from one tragedy to another, everyone a little more insensitive with each experience.
It is as if one cannot escape pain! Even if I ignore yesterday I know tomorrow is just waiting! Bliss comes with ignorance and avoidance. Happiness is often wrapped in denial. Joy laced with sorrow. It would be so easy to lose hope.
Yet everywhere I look around me in India I find hope. Kids are laughing amid the trash and rumors of impending strife. People carry genuine smiles on their person with an ease that defies understanding. In the midst of the sadness there are moment and instances of awesome compassion, mercy, and love.
So what can and should we do about the reality that bites? Is resignation the only viable alternative? God didn’t think so. His advice is as applicable in the past as it is today.
“Fear nothing in the things you’re about to suffer—but stay on guard! Fear nothing!” (Revelation 2.9)
God didn’t say ignore the pain but to be aware. God didn’t suggest that we should run from life. God didn’t even comment on the fairness or validity of what we are about to suffer. God did say to engage and stay on guard.
I cannot fathom how some cope in the midst of their pain. I cannot see things getting less painful; on the contrary, everything is getting progressively worse. To this I can only say that God was, is, and will be with us. Fear not. We have a mission to accomplish! At its heart is the task of bringing compassion, mercy, and love to a world dying.