What Virgil and Longfellow Can Teach Us About Pain

Through pain I’ve learned to comfort suffering men.” Virgil, The Aeneid.
footprints-in-sand1

Sometimes rocky roads can leave us feeling broken and alone, not knowing all the while that they are shaping us to be better men and women for those the Lord puts before us. As Longfellow says:

 

Footprints, that perhaps another, 
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, 
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, 
Seeing, shall take heart again.” Longfellow, A Psalm of Life

The Practicality of Being Genuine

Simplicity can be therapeutic, especially when we are hurt or angry. In our dramatic human natures it can be very tempting to build things up and then blow up. And yet, in the end, we are the ones more hurt than the one who afflicts us and worse, we will likely bring our loved ones down with us. I wonder if sometimes, in our dramatic responses, we detach ourselves from the fundamental vulnerability of what we actually feel. When someone hurts our feeling, we need to be able to simply say, “My feelings are hurt.” When we are angry, we need to simply say, “I am angry.” And most importantly, since this is at the root of it all, when we are scared, we need to be able to say, “Jesus, I am scared.” For, when we attempt to resolve these emotions without this simple acknowledgement, it is so easy to slip into an “I Must Resolve” mentality where we believe that it is up to us to fix it. And this is such a slippery slope. When we are not genuine about what we feel, we are simply working our way towards self-dependency, building up agendas and masks of behavior. This is not the way the Bible outlines Christ-centered dependency. If we are going to, in anyway, live on this earth as tools for the Kingdom of God, then we have to put ourselves out there and be genuine. We have to risk being vulnerable and risk being burned. So let me encourage you with four buzzwords to remember when you face the temptation to spin or to back-peddle:

1)      RELAX! There is nothing wrong with taking a moment to step back or away from a circumstance to “Be still and know that [HE is] God.” (Ps 46:10)

2)      EXAMINE your most basic emotions in the circumstance. Look within and ask yourself, “What am I really feeling?

3)      ACKNOWLEDGE verbally these emotions you are feeling. This doesn’t have to be an announcement to everyone in the room. Make the declaration in prayerful openness to the Lord.

4)      LAY your burden before the Lord with an honest and vulnerable prayer for His peace that transcends all understanding. (Luke 12)

Be Real! Be Genuine! If life is complicated, it may be because we are spending too much time on the issues and not enough time on our hearts. Remember, the Holy Spirit is within us. He is our Counselor. What does that mean? Who is the Holy Spirit to you? What role does the Counselor play in your life? How honest and open are you with the Lord about how you are feeling? Don’t think that His Omnipotence means that your acknowledgement is unnecessary. The Bible so clearly asserts that we confess our sins (1 Jn 1:9) and also that we cast our cares on Jesus (1 Pet 5:7). It is vitally important that we be genuine Christians