In the hospital doctors and nurses have developed a way to communicate about pain. They ask patients, “On a scale from 1-10 what is your pain level?” While not everyone feels pain the same way, it is important to ascertain at what level each patient perceives their pain to be. 1 is supposed to represent something like a splinter in your hand and 10 would be something like having your leg cut off with butter knife. You get the idea. 1= not so bad; 10= life altering, I can no longer function pain.
When there is an injury or illness it is easy to point to where it hurts and to what degree the pain exists, but in day to day life it is much harder to define. This week, I have been forced to stop and evaluate the injuries sustained on the battlefield and find that I am living at a pain level of an 8.
If it were just one thing, just one injury, perhaps it would not be so great. But the cumulative effect of so much trauma has become pervasive. I sometimes wonder how long a heart can continue to beat when continually faced with such tremendous grief and I have little doubt that someday, years from now, when my journey here is finished and Jesus calls me home, heartbreak will have been the cause of my death.
- If the pain were only:
Only my oldest son, who continues to battle some mysterious disease. Living every day of his life in pain, battling his own demons and the God who loves him….If it were only, that I am on the other side of the world and powerless to help him as he stumbles through the darkness. Maybe my pain would be less.
- Only my other kids, who have yet to really recover from the loss of our little 6 year old friend, Elina. Their grief is profound and real. If it were only, watching them wrestle with God’s goodness and faithfulness in the face of such a tragic death. Maybe my pain would be less.
- Only Hosanna and Hadessa Moon, whose adoptions are suspended somewhere in Never Land. They remain stateless and their adoptions not yet finalized. If it were only the fact that we are living and existing under a military regime that could kick us out of the country on a whim. If it was only worrying and wondering if one day I will be forced to leave them behind and never be allowed to return. Maybe my pain would be less.
- Only the red light district, perpetrators, captors and the vulnerable all colliding in the darkness. If it were only seeing the exploitation first hand week after week. Watching children being forced into the laps of pedophiles, watching a young woman being beaten for not yielding to her exploitation, seeing a young girl gripping the iron bars of her a darkened window waiting for help to come, If it was only seeing with my own eyes sex being bought, sold and even consummated in dark alleys. Maybe my pain would be less.
- Only my girls, ah, my girls. If it were only these, treasured, precious ones. If it were only having to do battle day and day out to keep their families from forcing them back into the red light district. Maybe my pain would be less.
But it isn’t just one of those, it is all of those and more. How do I move forward? How do I keep getting up day after day in the face of my weakness and failures? How do I live with pain at a level of 8?
This past week, I learned a few lessons from some unlikely teachers, the Pharisees. The story that impacted me picks up at the end of John, chapter 11 just after Lazarus has been resurrected from the dead.
Beginning in verse 45 it says this, “Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him…”
There were two significant things that impacted me in these few verses. The first is that the Pharisees ask the question, “What are we accomplishing?” I spent several days with Jesus asking Him the same thing.
“Jesus, what are we accomplishing?” His answer was quiet but sure. Together, we recounted His faithfulness.
- We have 10 survivors that are sleeping safe across the hall every night.
- More than 1600 leaders have been equipped with Priceless cube and are using it in at least 25 countries to combat human trafficking.
- My children and my girls all have encountered Jesus and watched the miraculous unfold in their lives.
- 15 have successfully exited the red light district.
- 9 interns have been trained and 6 of those are now preparing for, or already serving in full time ministry.
- 7 pedophiles have been arrested
Jesus is glorious, isn’t He? “He is faithful to complete the work He began.” Philippians 1:6.
When the dust settled from my first question, I was drawn to a second point. The Pharisees say, “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him…”
IF we let him go on…if we LET him?! What outrageous and stunning audacity.
The Pharisees are asking this question immediately after Jesus has called Lazarus out of the grave. Jesus just resurrected a guy who was four days dead, and they are considering whether or not they should let Him continue? How could they possibly ever stop Him? Even as the Pharisees were plotting His death and crucifixion they were playing into His hands.
That is the key isn’t it? My weakness, my failures, my heartbreak, even my outright rebellion cannot stop Him from accomplishing His purposes. There is no, “if we let Him.”
And everyone will believe in Him. That is the end game. There is no other alternative ending to how this plays out. At some point, “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” Philippians 2:10
My pain is still real, it is pervasive. It is still an 8, but there is a hope that far exceeds this dark night. So “let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
Jesus, and the sufficiency of His grace right here and right now…that is how I live at an 8.