Posted tagged ‘Pain and suffering’

Letters of James Henley Thornwell.

July 18, 2011

From Mr. Robbins:

my Dear James: I have just received your letter,conveyning the afflictive intelligence of the loss of your dear babe.We are both much afflictited by this unexpecred calamity,and desire to join our sympathies in the sorrow of the parents.We can do so most deeply and affectionately.We know what it is to watch the gradual unfolding of the physical and intellectual faculities of a dear child,a first child; and in the full flood—-tide of our enjoyment,to have the dear object of our love snatched from our presence and our care. Such a loss is heart-rending indeed; and the mourner is disposed to attach little value to other blessings of life, for a season, since the greatest has been withdrawn. But a short time and a little reflection will dispel the blackness of the cloud, and show us a clear and serene sky beyond it.We do know,James that our Heavenly Parent, whose love to us surpasses that of a woman to the child of her bosom, is the immediate author of these bereavements.We do know that he never afflicts willingly, or grieves the children of men; always for some cause–great, good, adequate cause. What this cause is, it is our privilege and our duty to inquire.Sometimes it is wisely witheld from our search; but frequently; very frequently, it is within the reach of our reflection.It may be in mercy to the child, to rescue it from a more dreadful calamity which would have attended it in life; It may be in mercy to the parents to spare the more acute suffering at beholding an unworthy life, or an unworthy connection in life.Those were some of my own reflections when called on to mourn,as you now do; but, my dear James, I beleive most men can find—I think I found——-some unfaithfulness in myself, for which the visitation befell me; and with the blessing of God, I have endeavoured to reform it. Should this be your case, I pray most devoutly that He, whose grace is sufficient for us, may enable you to discover and cast it out. Rest assured of the sincere personal and Christian sympathy of yours.



When Christians Grieve:Voices of Grief.

November 10, 2010

When C.S.Lewis wrote of his wife’s death, his opening words were, “No one ever told me…that grief was so like fear.”

At the age of 40, my wife contracted breast cancer.The happy and active mother of four teenage children, her life soon resumed with a favourable prognosis after successful surgery.

Over a year later she suffered a rapid loss in weight.The organism was in the bone and further surgery was necessary.Her life expectancy was six to eighteen months, but she enjoyed reasonable health for another four years.The end came nearly two years ago when she was 46.

Encouraged by family and friends,and fortified through faith in Christ, we were prepared for death.

But I was ill-prepared for grief, for “No one ever told me…that grief felt so like fear.”

The Bible regards grief as a very real thing.The word it uses signifies sorrow, pain, or a wound.It applies mainly to sorrow of soul, such as that of the disciples at the imminent death of Jesus.

“Grief”, says Jay Adams, “may be called a life-shaking sorrow over loss.Grief tears life to shreads;it shakes one from top to bottom.It pulls a person loose;he comes apart at the seams.Grief is truly nothing less than a life-shattering loss.”

Those who grieve over death are called “bereaved.” The word “reave” means to commit ravages, to forcibily deprive or take by force. A “bereaved” person is literally one who is broken up in what is an intensely personal experience.

Bereavement describes the whole reaction to loss;it includes the emotional response and our adjustment to that loss.One’s thought, feeling and behaviour are so drasctically affected that the condition may be viewed as an illness.


When the well-known minister, William Sloane Coffin, lost his twenty-four-year-old son, Alex, in a terrible automobile accident, he said he received letters, cards and telephone calls from many friends and acquaintances, all of them well-meaning, but very few of them helpful.He said some of the worst of them came from Reverends who proved by what they said that they know more about the Bible than they do about the human heart.“I know all of the right Biblical passages,” said Coffin, “Blessed are they who mourn.Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning.I know all of that.But the depth of my grief made those words unreal.”

Lynn Caine wrote a book about her experience of suffering the loss of a husband, then sinking deeply into grief.Her book was called Widow.She said, “being a widow is like living in a country where no one speak’s your language.”

To enter into grief is like being in a country where no one speaks your language.Or as William Shakespeare could be paraphrased to say:Everybody knows how to heal grief, except those who actually experience it.”

The psalmist in Psalms 77 speaks very honestly about grief:

“Because of you, Lord God, I can’t sleep.I am restless and can’t even talk.I think of times gone by and those years long ago.Each night my mind is flooded with questions.” Then he says, “God Most High, what’s hurt me most is that you no longer help us.” Then later in the Psalm, the psalmist has come to an insight: “You walked through the water of the mighty sea, but your footprints were never seen.You guided your people like a flock of sheep and you chose Moses and Aaron to be their leaders.”

Charles de Gaulle was a World War two hero and president of France.What many do not know is that Charles de Gaulle and his wife, Yvonne, were parents of a Downs Syndrome child, a daughter named Anne.Regardless of what was going on in the affairs of stae, Charles de Gaulle would come home every day and would spend time with Yvonne, giving special attention to Anne.When they would put her to bed at night, Yvonne would sometimes say to Charles, “I am deeply troubled about Anne. I have prayed so often that she could be like others. Charles, why is she not like the others.?” Anne did not live to adulthood.They had a private grave side funeral service.And at the funeral the priest said, “When Jesus was on the cross, all that the world could see was suffering and death, but the hidden hand of God was at work to bring victory and redemption, just as the hidden hand of God is at work to bring healing to Anne.” When the service was over, Yvonne could not pull herself away from the grave. She was stricken with grief. Charles went over and touched her on the elbow and said, “Come yvonne, did you not hear the words of the priest? She is now like the others.”

In the midst of our grief, the hidden hand of God. If you are in the midst of grief, look for the hidden presence of God in the midst of the churning waters.{Thomas Long}.

O Lord, how long will you  forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love, I will rejoice because you have rescued me.I will sing to the LORD becaus he is good to me.(A psalm of David,Psalm.13).

You can hear the cry of grief and loneliness in David’s voice as he exclaims in Psalm.102:1,2. I am like an owl in the desert,like an owl in a far-off wilderness.I lie awake,lonely as a solitary bird on a roof.

About 700 years before our Lord was born, Isaiah the prophet described Jesus as, “A man of sorrows and aquainted with grief.” (Isa.53:3). His grief was expressed for others, as when he wept at the grave of  His friend Lazarus and mourned over the city of Jerusalem. (John.11:25 f,; Matt.23:27 f).He also knew what it was to grieve for Himself. A few hours before His own betrayal and death, His humanity endured such suffering in Gethsemane that “His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.( Luke:22:44).

Great though His grief was, He went to the cross, that through the perfect sacrifice of Himself He might secure the salvation of His people from their sins.(Heb.5:9, 9:26). The person who acknowledges Jesus Christ as absolute king of his life receives forgiveness of sins and enjoys a personal relationship made real by the Holy Spirit. (Acts.16:30 f.;Acts.10:43). This bond is particularly meaningful in grief, because Jesus shared our earthly experiences, including suffering and death.( Donald Howard,Christians grieve too.The Banner of Truth Trust).



“Please,God,Take The Pain Away.”

November 3, 2010

Dr.Robert F.Browning,Pastor Smoke Rise Baptist Church,Stone Mountain,Georgia shared this testimony.

Matthew.28:20b.Lo,I am with you always even unto the end of the world

When my daughter,Amy Blair,was four years old,she broke her leg.It happened at church when some bricks stacked under a canopy fell on her.She spent the night in the hospital because the doctor wanted the swelling to subside before he put a cast on it.

I’ll never forget one thing that occurred the next day.The doctor came in to set her leg and of course it hurt when they started moving that leg to prepare it for the cast.She looked at me with big tears in her eyes and said, “Daddy,make him stop.It hurts.”

I don’t recall hurting that badly up to that point in my life.I was a mess on the inside while trying to act so composed and calm on the outside.I wanted nothing more than to take her pain away, but I could not do it. So, what did I do?

I held her hand ever so tightly and told her I knew it hurt.I assured her that what the doctors were doing was absolutely necessary and that the pain would soon ease.I told her to grip my hand tightly and look at me, not the doctors.I let her know I would not leave her and be close by her side through this entire ordeal.

That was twenty years ago.While the memories are fading, the lesson I learned that morning is not. I think of it often, especially when I hear someone ask,”Why can’t God take away my pain?” For one brief moment, I think I can identify with God and understand why even He cannot take away pain from the children He loves so much.Let me explain.

It is not uncommon for me to hear someone ask, “Why won’t God take my pain away?” I have heard it from people who have lost loved ones, victims of abuse or neglect and people whose dreams have been shattered.

Most of the time, the request comes from people who are hurting so badly that they are not sure if they can continue another day or hour.It is usually spoken out of deep anguish.

How would you answer that question? Here is what I have learned.

For God to take away our pain, He would have to take away all feelings.He would have to strip us of joy, happiness, pride, love and a host of other emotions. To take away our feelings would leave nothing but an empty shell.That’s not what He wants for us and I have to believe we do not want that either. Oh, we may want that temporarily, but not permanantly.

To take away our pain,He would have to erase our memories.While there are times when we might not mind that, there are other times when that would be the last thing we would want.

Have you ever been around anyone with Alzheimer’s? It has to be one of the most debilitating diseases anyone could endure. How pitiful to observe the actions of one that has no memory. It is heartbreaking, isn’t it?

If you have lost a loved one, I know it hurts and hurts badly. At times,the pain seems unbearable. However, as bad as the pain is, I think it would be worse to have no memory of the person you knew and loved. That would be sad for them and us.

An unknown author has written, “It is better to have gained memories from a love than to have never had the chance, for memories remain in the heart.” Sounds like the more familiar quote, “Better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.”

However, when you love someone, you are going to grieve. In some ways, the level of pain indicates the level of love you had for that person.How can you expect to love someone and not grieve when he or she is gone? That’s impossible unless you had no memory of them. I’ll take the pain because I want the memories.