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The Presentness of Pain

I think of a physician whose son was born with an incurable birth defect, leaving him crippled for life. I asked the father how he felt when he, who had dedicated his life to treating the illnesses of other people, was confronted with an incurable condition in his own son. He told me his biggest problem was the tendency to capsule the next twenty years of his son’s life into that initial moment when he learned of his son’s condition. Viewed that way, the adversity was overwhelming. God does not give twenty years of grace today. Rather, He gives it day by day. As the song says, “Day by day, and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here; trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.”
- Jerry Bridges
(Source: Trusting God)

Bridges captures very well the challenge of pain and suffering. The challenge is simply that in the moment of pain the future is infinitely distant. Pain is in the here and now. The past no longer matters and the future becomes irrelevant. Pain forces us to face the reality that all is not well now. The presentness of pain is what made Job curse the days of his conception and birth. It is very difficult to think of the future when you are in that moment of pain. I think that is why prayer is so difficult when we need it most - in that moment of pain. Prayer calls us to turn to God and his ordained future. Pain works in the opposite direction.


What makes it doubly challenging is that everyone else around us is obsessed with the blessings of today. The world is about living the moment. It does not live with an eternal perspective in mind. So when pain and suffering knocks on our door there's very few places we can go to be genuinely reminded to live with forever in mind. I remember some years ago I was in a prayer meeting when to my disbelief some lady started offering prayers on my supposed behalf which were completely off tangent. Of course often such praying is merely seeking gossip, but at the core of it is an obsession of the present. A preoccuption with having our needs met today rather than asking what God has in store for us eternally.

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013

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