Grief is a most peculiar thing; we’re so helpless in the face of it. It’s like a window that will simply open of its own accord. The room grows cold, and we can do nothing but shiver. But it opens a little less each time, and a little less; and one day we wonder what has become of it.Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
Surely every adult has experienced pain at some point. Some more, some less, but emotional hurt is part of the human condition. Much like a physical hurt, when we experience emotional hurt our minds build scars. We flinch from any future hurt; we’ve no desire to feel that pain again.
I’ve read that victim blaming is a self-defensive response. When we hear of something tragic happening to another, it brings about the fear of something similar happening to ourselves. It is, in a twisted way, reassuring to say that of course this terrible thing happened to this other person, because of something wrong that he or she did. It’s a rationalization allowing us to live in a world where awful things happen to people who are doing nothing wrong.
Jesus actually talks about this tendency:
About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”Luke 13:1-5 NLT
Jesus tells those around him to stop blaming the victims and use the tragic event as an opportunity to examine themselves.
The good news is that pain does not have to be forever.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”Revelation 21:3-5 NLT
It’s hard to imagine a life with no sorrow and no pain where I’m still me. In big ways or in small, our pain shapes us. But the promised future life is one where pain and death no longer have dominion and we are shaped by love.
I have no idea how this works. We’re not told. But I know it sounds pretty great. Hoping in this future is surely far better than hoping I can live a perfect life and avoid pain that way. And if you have pain or tragedy in your life, hear this: it’s not your fault. But it can be better. Not just briefly, but forever.