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Monday, November 24, 2014

Pain as a Starting Point



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My last day of work before Christmas vacation had been a busy one. With the car full of groceries, I pulled into my driveway and let out a sigh of relief. All that was left for me to do was put away the items I had bought and make dinner. As I turned off the ignition, I looked up to see my 12-year-old son racing out of the house. “Zoe’s been hit! Zoe’s been hit by a car!” he screamed.

Rushing into the house, I found my dog lying limp on the backroom floor. Blood oozed with each rattling breath. She seemed lifeless, near death. Her back leg was crooked and floppy, obviously broken.

All three of my boys moved into action and helped to unload the bags of groceries while I called the Emergency Animal Hospital. My eldest son and I lifted Zoe’s fifty-pound body into the back seat while the other two boys jumped into the car.

“What happened?” I asked as we headed to the vet’s office.Devon spoke up. “I was taking the garbage can out to the curb, and I let Zoe come with me.” “Without a leash?”

He looked guilty as tears fell down his cheeks. “Yes,” he said. “I didn’t know she would run into the road. I yelled and told her to come back but she ran right in front of a car!”

I looked back at Zoe. Her breaths were getting louder and now had a rattily, raspy quality.

“Listen guys, this is really bad. She may not make it. And if she dies, we will be turning around and going home.”

The tension and fear grew palpable in the car. At each stoplight Devon began to chant under his breath, “Please be green! Please be green!” His face was tight with tension as we waited at each red light.

I knew Devon adored Zoe. Recently he had been helping me train her. Images of him witnessing our family dog being struck by a car flashed through my head; I felt sick to my stomach. “How will this impact him if Zoe dies?” I wondered.

Glancing at him, I saw that his shoulders were stooped over and shaking with his sobs.

I joined my children’s quiet chant. Instead of repeating “please be green!” as we drove up to each stop light, I silently prayed, “Please don’t let Zoe die. The guilt and blame will deeply wound my son if our dog dies. Please, God, please don’t let Zoe die!”

Zoe came home a few days later, just in time to be with our family on Christmas Eve. It was the best Christmas gift I received that year because I knew both my dog and my son would recover.

God answered my prayer that day, but there have been plenty of times when I haven’t gotten the response I wanted. Sometimes God says no. As a psychologist, I have come to the realization through my counseling experiences that suffering is an inescapable part of our lives. Pain can come in many forms. Sometimes it is subtle and chronic, and other times it tears us apart with its cruelty and finality.

When we suffer, we often struggle to understand God. He might seem distant or unavailable. We begin to wonder if God has left us on our own.

We question whether or not God sees our problem and pain. And, we wonder if he knows about our situation. We ask, “Does he care?”

God, however, promises never to leave nor forsake us. Instead, he longs to equip us with the confidence and faith to face life’s uncertainties. Like Job, we may find life’s trials offer us an opportunity to rediscover and renew our faith. It can provide an opportunity to challenge our assumptions about what we believe. We may wonder: does life or God owe us anything? Can we really trust in God and his promises when we face challenges? How will we react emotionally to pain? Pain can act as a starting point in our search for a deeper relationship with God.

Kerry Kerr McAvoy | Taken from the introduction to Pain as a Starting Point | Kindle Edition

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