“Pain is the touchstone of progress.” This saying, by Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, used to really get on my nerves when I heard it said the first time or two. That’s because I didn’t understand it. I wanted to avoid pain at all costs. Now I know that for change to happen, there is usually some pain involved that precipitates it. Or, as I’ve also heard it said, “the pain has to be great enough” for a person to make a change. I know this was true for me when I got sober…and I know it’s true for everything I go through in life. It’s also true for our kids-yet it’s hard to watch them go through their growing pains because we feel their pain too, wishing we could take it away. And yet, in the end, we can’t. I’m sure God watches us feeling the pain of the mistakes and bad choices we make.
I believe the saying rings particularly true this time of the year in the Christian walk of the Passion during this week known as “Holy Week.” Jesus had to go through the pain of death on the cross to save mankind and show us the face of God through His resurrection. How much pain Mary must have felt agonizing over her son’s death. And yet, she had to let Him go so He could walk the road to His destiny and believe that God had a plan-in short have faith everything would be okay. I believe we must also trust everything will be alright because God has a plan…for us, for our children, for the next generation.
Perhaps this week is an especially good time to look inward at ourselves, be in touch with any pain we are experiencing, and pray to have more faith that God can help us to make whatever changes are necessary this week to remove that pain so we can experience the true joy of our risen Lord this coming Easter Sunday. Maybe that involves more prayer, more meditation, more reading and reflection of the Gospels, confession and reconciliation. But I believe we also need to be gentle with ourselves as Jesus was with the “sinners” he saved – like the woman caught in the act of adultery. To do what it takes to be free of our fears, resentments and pain – to be free to go and “sin no more.” Because I also believe the Buddhist saying that “pain is inevitable, suffering is an option.” If we are too hard on ourselves, we get stuck in the suffering, feel sorry for ourselves, and miss the silver lining.
Everything is possible if we turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. In the chaos of our increasingly fast-paced and hectic society, Holy Week is a reminder to pause and ponder, to try to grow and be transformed just a little bit each day and not let this greatest of all weeks fly by us like every other. Let us be grateful for the pain and progress we go through and be open to all of the wonderful changes God has in store for our hearts this Holy Week.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:16-19)
I hope you have a blessed Holy Week and a Happy and Joyful Easter!