It’s said that, in this day and age, there’s a lot of mental and bodily pain. But it’s not only in our own times that we see illnesses, personal rivalries, stress and a mountain of difficulties which pressurize and crush people, wherever they live on earth.
Of course, there’s no lessening of the intensity of our pain in knowing that other people are suffering as much as we are. If we want to see things that way, there might be some consolation and that helps us bear up. It’s something, at least. But the most important thing in helping us bear our pain and any trial which might befall us is the experience of the cross of Christ. Our own God was crucified, suffered and rejected by all. He understands us because he went through the same experiences.
We know that, if someone shows us understanding, while it’s welcome, it’s not enough. We need somebody who’ll bear the weight of the pain and give us the strength to carry on. The experience of those who believe in Christ and call upon him confirms that their cry didn’t disappear into the void. The more those who humbled themselves, after their difficulty, and requested the help of the only one able to provide a way out when we’re tempted (1 Cor. 10, 13), the more Christ came and transformed the pain into convalescence, the darkness into light. With this experience, we know that not everything’s black, that life isn’t just pain, with no means of escape.
We tread the path of sorrows, supported by Christ’s word and his promise that he’ll be with us all the days of our life (Matth. 28, 20). He didn’t fool us into thinking that, if we followed him, everything would be just as we wished. On the contrary, he warned us that we would have sorrow in this world (John 16, 35), while also recommending that we take courage, because he had conquered the world, that is, the evil which exists therein.
If people want to get through the pain in their life by depending solely on their own resources, they’ll soon see how weak they are. Those who rely solely on God, without doing whatever is in their own power, will be disappointed. But those who, seriously and responsibly, do whatever they can and also humbly call upon God for help will understand the dynamics of faith, that is, of a thriving relationship with the living God.
‘If you take away temptations, nobody will be saved’ is an ancient saying from the Book of the Elders which indicates, on the one hand, the universality of pain and trials and, on the other, the benefit that can derive from them. If, at all times and places, people have their own personal pain, be it great or small, continuous or passing, mental or corporeal, it’s because, behind them they have Adam and his fall. If Christians have pain but also know joy and peace, it’s because they have Christ, the new Adam who, through his death and resurrection defeated death and gave us his life.