Monday, October 20, 2008

Multiplied Sorrows

I don’t like pain. I don’t care for any of it – emotional or physical - and have endured quite a portion of it over the years of my life. A good share of it I brought upon myself because of my own stupid ignorance and foolishness. The worst of it though has come from others, well intentioned others. I now do the best that I can to avoid pain caused by the good intentions of others. I have to. My own emotional and physical health depends upon it. Sometimes I’m successful. Other times I’m not. There are times when life is simply a collision course and there isn’t a thing we can do to avoid the crash.

The Sorrowful Mysteries remind me that our Lord is intimately familiar with pain and suffering. When I compare my own with his I have nothing to complain about, even those times when well-intentioned others thought they were doing what was right despite the real, painful hardships created by their thoughts and actions. I could name names, times and places but that wouldn’t be very prudent of me.

Suffice it to say that life is not always a bed of roses for a Protestant pastor serving small churches in small communities. People have expectations, a lot of them unrealistic, and when they aren’t met or lived up to the fires can easily and quickly ignite. I think the most painful words I’ve ever listened to were, “Pastor, we think you need to resign so we can call a new pastor.” It’s a pain sharper than pain. Especially when you are sacrificing every way you know how, pouring out your proverbial life’s blood and trying to live and support a family on less than a livable salary.

Jesus encountered rejection and pain in an even more fierce way. Had he met their expectations of the Promised Messiah, they would not have rejected him and subjected him to the brutal physical treatment involved in crucifying him. The Sorrowful Mysteries keep these scenes of Christ’s last hours among us alive in our thoughts. I need to be continually reminded by these scenes, regularly reminded of the terrible pain Christ endured and the ultimate price that he paid for my salvation, our salvation, the salvation of the whole world if it will accept it.

The Agony In The Garden
The Scourging At The Pillar
The Crowning With Thorns
Carrying The Cross
The Crucifixion

Pain multiplied upon pain.

What could he possibly have done to deserve any of this?

He simply said yes to the Divine Will.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”[1]

[1] 2 Corinthians 5:21