Lent, Joy and Pain
I’ve been in pain.
Excruciating, agonizing, unbearable, severe, all encompassing, pain.
It came on unexpectedly. I was sitting in my favorite space in the house, my place of comfort, just minding my own business and watching TV when all of a sudden my right shoulder started to hurt. And then as the evening went on it got worse until I could barely stand it. I went to bed hoping to sleep it off but the pain was so brutal I couldn’t sleep.
This acute pain lasted 5 days, and 5 long nights. I saw a chiropractor (thanks Keri), a massage therapist, physiotherapist and even did acupuncture. I lost work time and 5 nights of sleep. I was beside myself. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I was desperate.
In the midst of the torment I was also getting angry. Mainly with God. I felt like God and I had made a deal that I had settled in to. I have told God that I am ready for whatever comes my way with MS. God knows that I’d desperately love to be healed/cured of MS of course, but I’m ready to take on whatever happens (and that could get real ugly).
As long as there’s no pain. That’s the deal.
And then this shoulder thing happened. I felt sorry for myself. I cried out to God; “I feel like I’m bearing my fair share of suffering in my life. Why do I have to take on more? Don’t you think I’ve learned enough lessons with what I already have to deal with? What more could you possibly want me to learn?” I was pretty pissed off with God for letting down His side of the bargain. (Which I don’t think God actually committed to. I’m just once again playing God and putting words in His mouth)
Thankfully, on day 6, either the pain started to subside or the meds started to kick in. (Not a big pain med kind of guy but I was desperate) Either way, I started to feel better. And I started to get my wits back and was able to think more clearly. My anger began to subside as the pain faded away.
As I tried to process this, I began to link my little journey of pain to this season of Lent. I haven’t been doing well with intentionally entering into this sacred time this year. So now I’m thinking that this was a little ‘unintentional’, unsolicited and unwanted boost into a Lenten mindset. Pain and lament are part of the story of Easter. Good Friday is a story of agonizing pain. Jesus was so distraught by what was happening that even He cried out to God, “Why have you forsaken me?”
To have been reminded of that made me feel a little better about my anger and disillusionment with God.
If Jesus can feel it, so can I.
I think that’s what Good Friday and the cross are all about. It’s a reminder to us all that we are on a road that will include deep pain and suffering before we get to that glorious day we call Easter. Maybe the point of it all is that we each need to experience those things first so that we have a deeper appreciation of the freedom and new life that Easter brings.
For now, it’s Saturday morning, I had a good night’s sleep, my curling team from Newfoundland last night made their way to the final of the brier tomorrow, I’m sitting on my porch swing, the sun is shining, I’m wearing shorts, and I’m content. There’s a dull throb in my shoulder still, reminding me that there’s still a long road ahead yet, but I know without question that Easter is coming.