Learning from Pain

the-scream

The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just that time when God can’t give it if you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Your own cries deafen you to the voice you need to hear.

C.S. Lewis, from A Grief Observed


B.F. Skinner conducted many experiments in which he taught rats to run mazes. He tried food as positive reinforcement and electric shock as negative. He found that pain motivated the rats to learn the maze faster than food, but the shock also taught the rats to fear the maze. Eventually, the rats refused to move, regardless of the degree of shock applied, even to the point of death.  You see, pain is overrated.  The “no pain no gain” mentality has led us to glorify anguish as somehow noble.  That is at best, immature.

The Māori people of New Zealand have much to teach us about perspective. Culturally they envision themselves moving backward into the future as they face the past. Like Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” The problem is that we live in a broken world in which we have no control.  If you are suffering, you might deserve it. Then again, you might be innocent and still in pain.   In time we gain understanding, but it’s only wisdom if it leads us to Christ.

Pain’s only valuable lesson is that we are insufficient.  It drives us finally to the arms of Jesus who said “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world.”

There we find the unfailing love of God.

IMG_0181Romans 8:35–39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Dig Deeper

Art: The Scream, 1893 by Edvard Munch

The Scream has been the target of several high-profile art thefts. In 1994, the version in the National Gallery was stolen. It was recovered several months later.  The 1895 pastel-on-board version of the painting was sold at Sotheby’s for a record $120 million at auction on 2 May 2012. The previous record for the most expensive work of art sold at auction had been held by Pablo Picasso‘s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which went for US$106.5 million at Christie’s two years prior on 4 May 2010.

http://www.edvardmunch.org/