“Be kind to each other. We have no idea the pain others carry. No idea how hard people are working to transform their hurt into something that heals.”
We live in a gargantuan world with such wide-ranging experiences—from the dizzying and deceptive materialistic heights to the lows of numb-town; a reality 97% of us have no idea about.
We live at a time when Apple gets all our money and Facebook gets all our time. It’s hard to compare the privilege of our time to the arduousness of a time not that long back. Yet with all its privilege—and our sense of unbridled entitlement—the prosperity gospel telling us we should all be blessed—we are staggered to find there is an unprecedented gap between those that have and those that have not.
In a reversal of fortunes the blessed materially are never poorer spiritually.
Like the 13-year-old girls in McDonald’s; arguing aloud and calling each other selfish and disrespectful, with not a guardian in sight. These kids had laptops and iPhones, yet not a parent within earshot. They seem to have more than enough, but the very things they truly need—love, discipline, a good role model—are perhaps nowhere to be seen.
These kids have no idea how lost they are. They have only their experience as a gauge. Their life is normal to them, but their pain is ever-present.
As I sat in McDonald’s not 10-feet away, pretending not to be perturbed about their behaviour, I couldn’t help think about the damage done by guardians (of whatever form) who have neglected these ‘spoilt’ kids. There are a million characterisations of neglect in this world, without even broaching the subject of overt abuse, for neglect is its own form of abuse.
These kids are carrying pain, and their only defence, their only resistance, is attack. They have no way of dealing in the world other than to fight. We don’t have to look far to understand where they learnt that.
And like everybody, there is a great desire within the heart to heal the hurt. It’s a tragic irony, then, to observe how these kids, along with many others, will search in all the wrong spots. They will find their ‘healing’ in alcohol and other drugs, in relationships with equally broken people (perpetuating the pain), and in myriad other forms of pain-perpetuating relief; forms of relief that shatters hope of relief. I’m glad I tried many of these forms of fake relief to know the one and only True Relief.
Everybody needs Jesus, but few actually come close.
The lesson in all this—the lesson for a ‘privileged’ Westerner like me—is tolerance for the pain behind the person, for the deep-seated anguish simmering away inside.
Make me thankful, and not snooty, for a ‘normal’ upbringing; for this privileged Australian life; to live in this wonderful land—the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit. Make me compassionate, and, above all reachable, when it comes to the hidden plight of others. When people abuse and attack and annoy, help me to see the fearful rage within them that seeks a home—a place of peace, though they may know it not. Make me submit to your love, to your grace, to your river of peace—that they may find Jesus’ peace in me, somehow. Help me be silent at the right time and help me to speak at the right time. Make me humble; your servant.
In Jesus’ restoring name, AMEN.
When we have an eye for pain and an ear for anguish—the types that are unspoken and even denied—our hearts fill with compassion beyond our fear. In the hardest of hearts are pains so deep, where only the love of Jesus could break through and abide.
Of course, we are all in some pain; some anguish. Only God can patch us by his grace.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.