Pain and Prayer

When I began this site in June 2015 I wrote that all existence is co-existence (the same theme pervades my book Namestone). There is a use for this in dealing with those pains, small or large, that we suffer from time to time, and the more persistent ones that just won’t go away.

Pain can be overwhelming, dominant, crippling, making prayer come in unavoidable gasps or silent sobs.

But not always.

Pain is a master of disguise. It hides under a cloak of words, masquerades as a hundred little irritants, small smarts, failures. The prayers we make at those times can be just as involuntary. Mistaking them for blasphemies we may not recognise them as prayers; what we get may be an answer, but not as we know it. We can be as dissatisfied with our prayers for ourselves as easily as with our prayers for others. We all have our share of pains and weaknesses, or worries and woes – unhappy pains, the many little or large ‘crosses’ we carry in our luggage through life.

But if Christ bore the pain of the cross for our sake, for our sins, our failings, can we not bear these little things for others? Use them as a reminder. Every time you feel your pain, commit to God a pain someone else carries. Do not ask for it to be taken away, dedicate it to that someone. Ask for it to be a reminder of that of your friend. Every time you feel it, commit your friend’s trouble to the arms of God. Co-existence is not only getting along with other people but caring and sharing.

You may find you have gone for a time without feeling it. That was good. Then it returns. That is good too, a reminder of your friend. Phone or speak to her, to him. Do not mention your own problem, show you care about hers, about his. Shared pain, even when your friend does not know of yours, is like sharing a heavy load.

What seems like a problem can become a small reminder of God-in-Christ’s act at Easter. Your personal ills will seem less sad. Existence is, and always must be, co-existence.

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