A friend of mine named Bette just sent me (and many others) a blog post from one Dr. Kelly Flanagan.
It was, imho, brilliant.
I had a checkup with my medical doc yesterday, routine, and the tech. drew some blood, hence the pic here. Not too much “ouch”, but some.
So the title of the post I read right after my appointment was “Why I Want My Kids to Be in Pain” (from DrKellyFlanagan.Com)
He is a professional psychologist and I am not- to be very clear!
Here, in my view, were two outstanding overview quotes from his blog on taking his little daughter to her first day of a new school in a new town:
“After all, isn’t it a father’s job to protect his kids from all pain and suffering?”
And- “But no, pain is inevitable. Our job isn’t to help them avoid it at all costs; our job is to help them move toward it, walk through it, and, if they invite us, to be with them in it.”
It strikes me many want sex, amazing dinners, romantic and beautiful surroundings and a cush job with a fully compliant mate- but not marriage with all it’s mundane, sometimes little irritating problems like laundry help, taking out the trash, kids vomiting and someone has to clean it up at 3 a.m., overnights at the emergency room and that junk drawer that needs to be cleaned out not to mention a spouse who sometimes drives us nuts and a job we work at because there seems nothing else is available to us at that point.
We want the freedom to do as we choose, choose as we like and God had better show up and do our bidding in (mostly) Each and Every time we toss a few verses of His Word back at Him… or we stop following Him.
It occurs to me that at times we don’t want His “right here, right now” presence, or at least not an on-going Relationship with Him. We want what He has the power to DO for us, and we want Him to Give us X, Y or Z… but we don’t particularly always want Him… just for Himself.
If that bothers you as it does me, like me you must repent from time to time along this journey.
I cannot (nor do I claim to) speak for nor fully understand all Dr. Flanagan means by what he wrote but I think get the gist of it which I agree with very much.
As I read the two bits quoted above it struck me how common it is for people who used to (or want to or recognize their NEED to) follow Jesus Christ and walk in faith with God throw their faith out like something from the bottom of a garbage can… BASED ON “Hey, GOD DIDN’T PROTECT ME FROM X, Y or Z so either He doesn’t exist, doesn’t love me or could care less what happens to me so BLANK HIM, I am OUTTA HERE!”
Understood. I mean, sure, that is one big and even to an extent, logical reaction.
I would counter that we have DECIDED that it is our heavenly Father’s job to “protect his kids from all pain and suffering” and we are both dumb and wrong. Understandably so, but both in my view.
More in a moment.
Then he writes that second statement I quoted.
Essentially, pain IS. We may doubt God or even His existence, but nobody doubts the reality of PAIN in our world, pain in our experience, and we all know very shortly after birth that it will appear off and on, sometimes very often and even continuing through a person’s life-journey on the planet. It doesn’t take faith to believe and know this is just flat-out true.
But what is God’s “job” in our life? Hmmm?!
WE want to avoid pain at all costs, but it costs to avoid pain.
At that juncture I think I just heard many Christians reading this thinking “Exactly why Jesus went to the cross… He suffered so we don’t have to”. I agree. But never? Never EVER? No suffering can, will, ought to be allowed if our loving heavenly Father exists and accepts us and we are in right relationship to Him? Oooo, I think this is where we get it wrong and get it wrong to our own (worse than suffering) peril!
The Dr. writes what I personally believe is as I think of his words, the actual way of reality in a relationship with Jesus, with God our Father, with God the Holy Spirit… which in part includes:
A. He helps us move TOWARD pain- which will come as it does in everyone’s life
B. He helps us actually walk THROUGH it- without cursing God and dying in bitterness and self-pity
C. And -as we invite Him to be- He is WITH US (Emanuel) IN IT
This is not feel-good teaching folks, and I have not personally experienced every pain every reader here has or will- but I know this- Jesus said if anyone would follow Him they MUST “deny yourself, pick up your cross daily, and follow Me (that meaning, Jesus Himself)”. Self denial is itself often painful and a cross. Crosses = pain and following Jesus is not a fully loaded bliss-and-picnic affair though I cannot say I have experienced any greater joy.
Jesus said a disciple of His would be blessed a hundred times over with family, friends, etc.. and He then added “with persecutions”. Pain is.
So is God.
The issue is whether we will trust, cling to and walk with Him through it. It is not God’s “job” to do our repenting nor our walk of faith FOR us… but WITH us. Yes, in and when we are not in pain.
Things to ponder on this August day.
Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn