Permit Your Pain to Become the Pain

 

“Your pain, deep as it is, is connected with specific circumstances. You do not suffer in the abstract. You suffer because someone hurts you at a specific time and in a specific place. Your feelings of rejection, abandonment, and uselessness are rooted in the most concrete events. In this way all suffering is unique. This is eminently true of the suffering of Jesus. His disciples left him, Roman soldiers tortured him and crucified him.

Still as long as you keep pointing to the specifics, you will miss the full meaning of your pain. You will deceive yourself into believing that if the people, circumstances, and events had been different, your pain would not exist. This might be partly true, but the deeper truth is that the situation which brought about your pain was simply the form in which you came in touch with the human condition of suffering. Your pain is the concrete way in which you participate in the pain of humanity.

Paradoxically, therefore, healing means moving your pain to the pain. When you keep focusing on the specific circumstances of your pain, you easily become angry, resentful, and even vindictive. You are inclined to do something about the externals of your pain in order to relieve it; this explains why you often seek revenge. But real healing comes from realizing that your own particular pain is a share in humanity’s pain. That realization allows you to forgive your enemies and enter into a truly compassionate life. That is the way of Jesus, who prayed on the cross: “Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus’ suffering, concrete as it was, was the suffering of all humanity. His pain was the pain.

Every time you can shift your attention away from the external situation that caused your pain and focus on the pain of humanity in which you participate, your suffering becomes easier to bear. It becomes a “light burden” and an “easy yoke” (Matthew 11:30). Once you discover that you are called to live in solidarity with the hungry, the homeless, the prisoners, the refugees, the sick, and the dying, your very personal pain begins to be converted into the pain and you find new strength to live it. Herein lies the hope of all Christians.”

~Henri  J.M. Nouwen

 

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Ashamed

I read a devotional today by Pastor Shane Wynn about being ashamed, and it gave me food for thought.

For we all know Romans 1:16
“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

But this bit grabbed me:
 “twice in Hebrews (2:11, 11:16) we read that God is not ashamed to be identified with us. Think about the power of that truth and rejoice. God is not ashamed of you and is not ashamed to be called your God. Hallelujah!!!”

 

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Let God Speak Through You

“You are confronted again and again with the choice of letting God speak or letting your wounded self cry out. Although there has to be a place where you can allow your wounded part to get the attention it needs, your vocation is to speak from the place in you where God dwells.

When you let your wounded self express itself in the form of apologies, arguments, or complaints–through which it cannot be truly heard–you will only grow frustrated and increasingly feel rejected. Claim the God, in you, and let God speak words of forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation, words calling to obedience, radical commitment and service.

People will constantly try to hook your wounded self. They will point out your needs, your character defects, your limitations and sins. That is how they attempt to dismiss what God, through you, is saying to them. Your temptation, arising from your great insecurity and doubt, is to begin believing their definition of you. But God has called you to speak the Word to the world and to speak it fearlessly. While acknowledging your woundedness, do not let go of the truth that lives in you and demands to be spoken.

It will take a great deal of time and patience to distinguish between the voice of your wounded self and the voice of God, but as you grow more and more faithful to your vocation, this will become easier. Do not despair; you are being prepared for a mission that will be hard but fruitful.”

~Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

Bloom where you are planted. For even if you are seen as a weed of little value, with the proper perspective, you increase the beauty of creation when you let the light of the Lord shine forth to be a contrast to those around you.

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Face the Enemy

“As you see more clearly that your vocation is to be a witness to God’s love in this world, and as you become more determined to live out that vocation, the attacks of the enemy will increase. You will hear voices saying, “You are worthless, you have nothing to offer, you are unattractive, undesirable, unlovable.” The more you sense God’s call, the more you will discover in your own soul the cosmic battle between God and Satan. Do not be afraid. Keep deepening your conviction that God’s love for you is enough, that you are in safe hands, and that you are being guided every step of the way. Don’t be surprised by the demonic attacks. They will increase, but as you face them without fear, you will discover that they are powerless.

     What is important is to keep clinging to the real lasting, and unambiguous love of Jesus. Whenever you doubt that love, return to your inner spiritual home and listen there to love’s voice. Only when you know in your deepest being that you are intimately loved can you face the dark voices of the enemy without being seduced by them.

    The love of Jesus will give you an ever-clearer vision of your call as well as of the many attempts to pull you away from that call. The more you are called to speak for God’s love, the more you will need to deepen the knowledge of that love in your own heart. The farther the outward journey takes you, the deeper the inward journey must be. Only when your roots are deep can your fruits be abundant. The enemy is there, waiting to destroy you, but you can face the enemy without fear when you know that you are held safe in the love of Jesus.”

~Henri J. M. Nouwen

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Immutable, Morning and Evening


THEN THE LORD SHOWED ME FOUR CRAFTSMEN.” ZECHARIAH 1:20 

“In the vision described in this chapter, the prophet saw four terrible horns. They were pushing this way and that way, dashing down the strongest and the mightiest; and the prophet asked, “What are these?” The answer was, “These are the horns that have scattered Judah.” He saw before him a representation of those powers that had oppressed the Church of God. There were four horns, for the church is attacked from all quarters. The prophet had good reason to feel dismayed; but suddenly there appeared before him “ four craftsmen .” He asked, “What are these coming to do?” These were the men whom God had found to break those horns in pieces. God will always find men for His work , and He will find them at the right time. The prophet did not see the craftsmen at first, when there was nothing to do, but first the “horns” and then the “craftsmen.” The Lord always finds enough men. He did not find three craftsmen, but four; there were four horns, and there must be four workmen. God finds the right men not four men with pens to write, not four architects to draw plans, but four craftsmen to do the work. Rest assured, you who tremble for the Church of God, that when the “horns” grow troublesome, the “craftsmen” will be found. You need not worry about the weakness of the Church of God at any moment; there may be growing up in obscurity the valiant reformer who will shake the nations. Chrysostoms may come forth from our Ragged Schools, and Augustines from the thickest darkness of London’s poverty. The Lord knows where to find His servants. He has in ambush a multitude of mighty men, and at His word they will take to the battle; “for the battle is the Lord’s,” and He will get to Himself the victory. So let us remain faithful to Christ, and He, in the right time, will raise up for us a defense, whether it be in the day of our personal need or in the season of peril to His Church.”

~Charles H. Spurgeon 

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Yesterday Today Tomorrow

Genesis 2:17. but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

“Living or dying. This is our same choice today. Christ came to show us what living truly is. Not self-determination, but self-sacrifice. Not independence, but dependence upon God’s grace. Not earning a good judgment by our good deeds, but receiving the judgment of Christ’s cross and the justification of his resurrected life. Not by trying to live as Jesus (another form of self-righteousness), but by receiving the love of Jesus. Then allowing Jesus to live out his love through you. That’s “to live is Christ.” ~ Brady Wolcott

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