Here are the final quotes this week on my Word of the Year — “Pain.” I have certainly been experiencing this word recently, both due to physical pain and emotional pain for the deaths of others we have seen recently. I’m so thankful God has been faithful to give me just the encouragement I need each day, even in the midst of painful circumstances.
Note: This is what the Prophet Micah said to Jerusalem, just before they were taken away captive to Babylon, due to their persistence in bowing down to idols. I love Eugene H. Peterson’s translation of this verse in The Message:
Well, go ahead — twist and scream, Daughter Jerusalem. You are like a woman in childbirth [i.e., in pain]. You’ll soon be out of the city, on your way and camping in the open country. And then you’ll arrive in Babylon. What you lost in Jerusalem will be found in Babylon. God will give you new life again. He’ll redeem you from your enemies. — Micah 4:10 [MSG]
Judgment is painful. But the pain is purposeful. It isn’t like the pain of passing a kidney stone and having nothing to show for it. It’s more like the pain of childbirth in which you have everything to show for it. After the pain, you’re able to cradle new life in your arms. And wrapped around that new life will be a blanket of deliverance from your enemies. — Eugene H. Peterson, Conversations, pg. 1425
Good for you. More it hurt more better it is. Can’t nothing heal without pain, you know. What you wiggling for? — Toni Morrison, Beloved, pg. 92
Pain entered into, accepted and owned, can become poetry. It is no less pain, but it is no longer ugly. Poetry is our most personal use of words; it is our way of entering into experience, of inhabiting it as our home, not just watching it happen to us. — Eugene H. Peterson, Conversations, pg. 144
…how like Father Zossima kneeling down at the feet of Dimitri Karamazov because he sees that great suffering is in store for him and because he knows, as John Donne did, that suffering [pain] is holy. –Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life, pg. 170
Still, the most amazing quotes on pain are from a portion of the book of Isaiah that describes the Messiah in perfect detail. This was written 700 years before the birth of Christ.
The servant grew up before God…There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried…But it was our sins that did that to him…He took the punishment, and that made us whole…We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him…He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence…Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it…He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep. — Isaiah 53 [MSG]
It doesn’t get any clearer than this — mysterious as it seems — Christ took all our pain on his shoulders and purposefully endured the punishment of our sins so that we can have eternal life. What a great Savior!