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Coping with Suffering (What I’ve Learned from Jesus) – Continuation from the Previous Post…

July 21, 2017

 



Pain is real.

I am amazed by the number of programs out there that promise a quick end to pain or deprivation in some way, whether by changing our thinking instantly or offering some other instant transformation.

Not Jesus. 

Quite the opposite, many Christians reverently reflect on the account of Jesus’ bearing of the cross, and His journey from being arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, to His burial. 

There is such a wealth of wisdom there: whether in Jesus’ ability to keep going, His accepting of support along the way, His forgiveness towards his enemies, or His trust in His Father being there. 

For me, an additional great lesson is in Jesus’ attitude of non-resistance towards His suffering; Him being able to be quietly present in carrying it. 

Jesus wasn’t avoiding pain, running away from it, trying to minimize it, or trying to live a life without it. 

He shared it with His Father and surrendered it into His care: 

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. Psalm 31:5 King James Version (KJV)

Taking His example, if I stumble along a piece of suffering (e.g., my little one’s occasional, very awkward, melt-town in public transport; the build-up of appointments that take away "carefree" time; disagreements within a relationship; or watching another person who is unwell, emotionally or physically) I like to take time out to quietly “sit” with whatever is happening for me emotionally.

I do this by drawing on paper an outline of a heart, or cup. This to me, represents my well-being. I then either write down, draw, or color, whatever is happening for me emotionally, physically, or spiritually. 

This little check-in helps me to stay connected with myself; observe my experience (with compassion), and get more insight into what I’m feeling: my attitudes, values, goals...

Once I look at the message that my emotions are asking me to address, and consider what is the most nourishing coping (for myself and others), I imagine surrendering my “well-being” into God’s care.

I can light a candle and watch my heart drawing disappear into its flames, the smoke symbolically carrying away my intentions, into God’s care: 

I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue. Psalm 66:17King James Version (KJV)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28-30King James Version (KJV)

Feelings come and go, like the clouds that roll through the sky. Even for Jesus, who throughout the Bible, is described as encountering many emotional experiences, in various contexts. 

For me, having some time to sit with and understand them helps to reduce for me their intensity and let them go; so I can look beyond them, to the amazing emotional backdrop of wonder and “rejoicing in spirit” (Luke 10:21), that comes from being in communion with the Heavenly Father and one another. 

Image: Pixabay/freephotocc

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