I hate being in pain. Candidly, I do not know many people who like the experience. I walked out the front door of my apartment to stumble into the path of a man shuffling along in dirty scrubs. He was clearly in pain. His matted hair, dirty ill fitting clothes, and gait spoke of a hardship I could not even begin to appreciate. As I stood in that brief instant side by side, I wonder if the angst and gap could be any greater than it was. I was overwhelmed with a sense of not being able to do anything relevant to the events in his life. I had no idea of the particulars. Any response would have been insufficient, yet I felt I should do something. In that moment in time, I looked away and rushed towards the subway, work, and an escape.
I wish I could say that in that moment I acted differently. I wish I had, even in hindsight, an answer to the conundrum of responding to an overwhelming situation. I wish I could change or even eliminate the pain in at least one life.
I have no profound answers. I do know that I have found myself going to God, raising an old question, asking and demanding answers. To date, the conversation continues. In the midst of unanswered questions, “God also says: ‘When the time's ripe, I answer you. When victory's due, I help you. I form you and use you to reconnect the people with me, to put the land in order, to resettle families on the ruined properties.” (Isaiah 49.8)
I find myself living with a pain that God has not chosen to take away, at least for now. Death is a part of living. Pain is a part of our existence. Fear is a companion we know well. For many it ends here. Yet for others, because of you and me, they know compassion. They understand mercy. They find themselves part of a community. We may not be able to erase pain, but we can make a difference.
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