Friday, October 5, 2012

Spiritual Survival In the Grip of Pain


Survival may be the last thing on our minds, or it may be the first and only thing.
There are times in life—entire seasons and even entire lives—where pain, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, affects the experience of life so much we are numbed to joy. Such pain inevitably winds up as an exercise of spiritual survival. Pain always ends up affecting our wellbeing and the premise by which our souls reside within this existence called life.
Survival is our goal, but we might often ask, what is the point in mere survival? Still, there are many who would be satisfied to achieve just that—to simply endure their lives.
Enduring Through a Hope Beyond the Pain
It may be hard to rationalise a pain-filled life without a good and solid source of hope through which to bear the considerable weight of our tumults and to energise us in order to fulfil the quota of effort required.
To survive great pain we need great hope. The greater the pain the greater the hope required. And we are fortunate, every single human being, to have nothing less than God’s full Presence through the Holy Spirit in order to guide us to the fullness of hope sufficient enough for our unique need.
The Holy Spirit is the Advocate and the Encourager. When we know no hope we can still know hope through what is written in God’s Word. We can know hope through the encouraging voices, both ancient and contemporary. We can know hope when we know that God has a plan, and a future hope, for each one of us.
Sometimes we simply need to be reminded of these truths.
But in enduring most pain it can seem that hope is not enough. Indeed, it doesn’t feel like it is enough, but we can know from reflecting over our past experience that we got through; especially times it seemed possibly more impossible than the present challenges.
Somehow hope transcends the pain—but not really by present experience. The pain can seem bigger than the hope. But as we look back we see how our hope energised our faith to simply go on, not giving up. The fact we are still here, fighting still, is testament to the fact we haven’t ultimately given up.
That is the testimony of hope—not of joy—but of teeth-gritting hope. That’s faithfulness!
***
Hope, though it seems insufficient at the time of our pain, always gets us through. The grace of God—to get us through, despite our struggles—is always sufficient. When we hold onto such hope, grace is unfolded and experienced.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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