Over the past few years, I’ve learned some things about pain. They’re not exactly profound, but they are true.
The first thing:
Pain is pain.
(Told you they weren’t profound.)
But before you roll your eyes, let me explain.
In life, we’re all very good at ranking pain. What you face is not nearly as bad as what she faces. And the thing that girl over there faces? It’s nothing compared to what you deal with.
I don’t have babies, but I have a friend who has buried babies.
Your marriage is difficult but her marriage is terrible.
You have a child with a disability, but she has two.
On the surface, ranking pain can appear a little helpful. After all, in most cases you can always tell yourself, “It could be worse!”
But that leaves you in a lot of trouble when things really do get worse. Because then what do you say? What if you look around and everything that you’re dealing with really is the worst thing ever?
I’ve learned that pain is pain. There is no “ranking” needed. All pain has validity. There is no need to compare, because in doing so—sometimes, you’ll end up feeling good, but other times, you might end up destroying yourself.
Instead, just acknowledge that your pain is bad, and so is everyone else’s.
Which brings us to the second thing:
Everyone faces pain.
We’re all in this together. We’re all living in this broken, fallen world where really bad things happen, and it really hurts when they do.
If we can stop comparing, and instead look at each other as fellow sojourners on the road of life, I think we’ll be quite surprised.
One of my closest and most encouraging friends has never tasted infertility. In fact, she has to work hard to spread her babies out so she doesn’t go crazy. We’re an odd match, but the truth is that she faces her own pain, and together we do a lot better than alone. Because walking together, I get to cry over the babies I don’t have, and she gets to share her heartache with me, and we’re not comparing and we’re not pretending.
She doesn’t have to know infertility to know my pain. And I don’t have to know her loss and difficulty to know her pain. We both already know, because pain is pain—and we both face it.
And that girl that you think gets everything she wants? I guarantee, she doesn’t. She’s hurting too. Because we all are.
But the third thing—this is the good news:
God is the same, no matter what type of pain we face.
The women in my Sunday School class, who all sit there with babies bouncing on their knees? They’re not in some different world than me. We’re here together. And God is exactly the same for all of us. He never changes. So I can learn from them and they can learn from me.
And the thing about God is that He knows. He’s not distant, watching us suffer. He’s right here, down in the mud and muck—right beside us. He’s living and breathing and willing to walk through any storm, any disaster, any heartache.
And He never, ever changes.
So when a mom of half a dozen children shares her story about how God has been speaking to her? I can learn from it. Even if I never have a baby. It doesn’t matter—because who God is, isn’t dependant on my life circumstance.
He is the God-Who-Is-Actively-Present. And He never changes—no matter what type of pain I face.
So, you friend— you who feel all alone in your heartache—it’s not true. You’re not alone. God is here. And community is here. And we’re all in this together.
Next time you’re in a group, and your mind starts telling you that no one understands and no one sees and no one… just stop. Pray. Say, God, show me how these women are hurting. Open my eyes to see their hearts. Bring to light the sorrows that are hidden in darkness. Stop the enemy from filling our minds with the lie that we are all alone.
Your pain matters, friend. So much. And so does the pain of the person next to you. Listen to her.
Pain Redeemed: when our deepest sorrows meet God is available in e-book and print formats