Don’t be Afraid to Feel the Pain

When calamity strikes, either through drastic or gradual bummer things, Christians feel they need to be happy about it. We “console” those who suffer by telling them to “give God glory through it all.”

I certainly can’t argue with the advice, but I can argue with what that advice usually means and what it usually leads to.

Christians feel they need to be unrealistic about pain, to put on a happy face, ignore the limitations and praise Jesus while tip-toeing through tulips, “and quit that whining about how your toes got cut off, find a way! Jesus would for you.”

Ah yes, the classic, “Jesus died on a cross so quit your whining” Christian advice. Niiiiice.

Many years ago there was a person dying slowly from cancer who had a family that didn’t think you could ever show struggle or sadness as that showed doubt. This person called me in tears, “I just can’t do it any more. Everyone keeps telling me to be strong, not to cry, to give God glory by fighting the cancer. I can’t. I can’t try to be happy anymore.”

I think most Christians feel they need to be happy about suffering so they act happy, which leads others to believe they have to hilariously endure pain.

I know the verses from Paul about rejoicing in suffering, not my point. My point is that rejoicing in suffering, in being weak, does not equal acting happy, denying reality, trying to be strong in our human power to show how strong we are.

Christian platitudes about being strong are nothing but humanistic cheers. Most Christians can’t rejoice in their weakness because they aren’t allowed to be weak. We have a hard time weeping with those who weep because

1) They’re too afraid to weep near us
2) If they did weep, we’d be quick to judge them rather than weep with them
3) We’re so busy trying to maintain our own happy facade, weeping with others makes us unhappy and that means bad things so take your whine somewhere else lest ye spoil my Pharisaic imperviousness.

It’s a twisted thing. Perhaps you don’t understand what I’m even talking about. I hope you don’t. I’ve been around this happy Christian suffering jibberish for a long time and it drives me crazy. You not admitting you’re hurting, not crying, not struggling with reality is not a sign you are strong in Jesus; it’s a sign you think you don’t need Him.

At the same time, we’re not to go around whining about all our troubles, there is a balance, one that must be struck if you want to be led to Christlikeness. Jesus cried several times. He was realistic enough to admit it when it hurt.

4 thoughts on “Don’t be Afraid to Feel the Pain”

  1. Hi. I just discovered your blog a few days ago via facebook. Actually your mom & sister are fb friends as we used to attend CBC when your dad was pastor. Anyway, I love reading your blog. I get it in my email each morning and it is a real encouragement to me. I tend to struggle a lot in everything, from my walk with the Lord, to relationships, to myself! I like that you are very real in what you say. It is a great help to have something to read, to think on, first thing in the morning…something to get me warmed up for my Bible & prayer time. :) All blessings in Christ! Heather Fisher

  2. What you are talking about is the difference between righteousness by works and righteousness by faith. Are we trying to put on a good show, or is God working through us to reveal Himself?

    Job’s wife had enough of “putting on a good show” when all her children were swept away. Then she said “curse God and die.” This revealed what was in her heart. It was a moment of honesty, when she could have realized that her Christian experience was not deep enough.

    Job, on the other hand, was willing to receive the suffering with faith. He didn’t sing and dance under the trial, it was too painful for that. But he did not murmur against God. He had laid the foundation of his faith deep, and his spiritual house was not swept away in the storm.

    Laying a deep foundation means thinking and meditating on the actions and words of God as recorded in the Bible, until we are convinced and inspired by His unwavering righteousness and faithfulness, and desire nothing else than to share in that character and that kingdom.

    There is treasure to be gained in that study, but it requires the sacrifice of the artificial pleasures of the artificial paradise of this modern world in order to gain them. We can’t have a foot in the world and a foot in God’s kingdom. That is too superficial and the pasted-on smile will fade in the severe trials that are coming quickly to this old world.

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