Archive for March, 2016

Mar-8-2016

Weakness Leaving My Body

I am a 45-year-old man who does not like exercise, but I do it anyway. It’s supposed to make you feel better, but many times it just makes me sore and tired. Sometimes I tell people, “This healthy lifestyle is killing me!” The only way I endure it is do something I enjoy while walking on a treadmill. This helps me to forget that I am sweating and walking in place like a hamster on a wheel. Usually that means watching video podcasts of my favorite preachers: Erwin Rafael McManus, Tim Lucas and Greg Boyd.

pain is weakness leaving

 

I once read a sign in a gym that said, “Pain is just weakness leaving the body.” I love that. It inspires me when I feel really sore from working out. It gives my pain meaning. It makes me think of the pain we feel when embracing other people’s brokenness. Some can’t handle it and turn away. Some dive into that pain and grow in compassion and love (spiritual strength.) Maybe embracing other’s pain is the feeling of apathy or indifference (spiritual weakness) leaving our bodies.

 

 

I have a special needs child. She is the greatest…and sometimes her behavior drives me crazy. Her emotions are up and down like a roller coaster. When things are good, she is delightful, sweet and silly. When she is on tilt, she isn’t fun to be around because she is frustrated at herself or the world around her. Sometimes this anger gets unleashed towards me. My natural inclination is to push away from pain. My other inclination is to press in close because of love.Juan and Hailey

My daughter is a gift to me in many ways and one of my greatest sources of joy. The gift I didn’t anticipate is the gift of brokenness. I can’t control her and it reminds me of all the other things I can’t control in myself and the world around me. God is allowing me to grow more intimate with Jesus through entering the pain of my daughter’s brokenness and experiencing my own brokenness. Richard Rohr describes it this way:

“Pain teaches a most counterintuitive thing: we must go down before we even know what up is. In terms of the ego, most religions teach in some way that all must “die before they die.” Suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to both destabilize and reveal our arrogance, our separateness, and our lack of compassion. I define suffering very simply as “whenever you are not in control.” Suffering is the most effective way whereby humans learn to trust, allow, and give up control to Another Source. I wish there were a different answer, but Jesus reveals on the cross both the path and the price of full transformation into the divine.”

 My full time job at New York City Relief is helping people challenged with homelessness. You would think that would be enough pain to grapple with. The streets are teeming with an ocean of brokenness in the form of men, women and children with no safe place to turn.

Maybe embracing other’s pain is the feeling of apathy or indifference (spiritual weakness) leaving our bodies.

 

Through them, he invites me deeper into a life of meaning:

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:” 1 John 3:16-18

The Amplified Bible version replaces “but has no pity on them” with “shows no heart of compassion.”

Jesus is drawing me to himself by giving me the opportunity to lay down my life. Loving people through their difficult behavior is testing the depth of my love and the substance of my faith. If I want to “belong to the truth and set my heart at rest in his presence”, I have to show a heart of compassion.

God speaks even more specifically to my situation:

“Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Isaiah 58:7

God knows that it is easier for me to show compassion to someone on the street then to my own family. He gives me no wiggle room. I must dive wholeheartedly into my daughter’s heart at the expense of my time, energy, peace, comfort etc. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did for me?

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus asks everyone on judgement day if they took care of the broken: the hungry, the sick, the naked, the stranger and the prisoner.

Maybe Jesus isn’t trying to get us to go to the broken so much for their sakes as for ours. We need to meet him face to face in order to escape the false concept of Jesus in our minds- the god we have created in our own image.

You see, I am attracted to a god of power that will help me be powerful. I am perplexed by a humble God who chose to become poor, weak and broken. I am hesitant to walk in these kinds of footsteps, but it was his humility that brought my healing. Now he calls me to share my poverty in spirit, my weakness and my brokenness with others to bring them to a place of healing as well.

As I decide to bear the pain of my daughter and the many others suffering around me in life, I can know that this pain is not in vain. It is actually the feeling of apathy and indifference (spiritual weakness) leaving my body. No pain, no gain.

 


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