pain as teacher

what is to give light must endure burning.
viktor e. frankl

 don’t let the days go by…
Bush, “glycerine”

i ran this morning for the first time since completing the mini-marathon on Saturday.  it was rough.  training for races has taught me many life lessons over the years, but perhaps the most important has been endurance.

at some point in one’s training regiment, pain must be embraced.  the tendency is to keep it at arm’s length…start the run on a heavy dosage of aspirin, or only run when it’s comfortable.  but everyone runner knows that pushing through the pain is what actually makes you better.

i read recently about a young man named Dietrich Boenhoeffer, a writer/pastor/theologian in Germany during the reign of Hitler.  he was one of the few charging the church to stand up against what was happening to the Jews.  this led to his imprisonment and even death.

the author who wrote about Boenhoeffer explained that the call to follow Christ was one that freed him from the lust of privilege and title.  this really stuck with me, as i began to wonder what it would look like in my life if i considered the call to walk with and like Christ a “relief.”  so often i consider it more of a burden.

Paul compares this life with God and Jesus to running a race.  if this analogy is accurate, then we must also embrace the lessons learned during training for the race…we must learn to also embrace the pain.

i firmly believe that Christ called us to walk with the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the voiceless.  not just visit them for a week, snap a few commemorative photos, and return home to comfort.  but really walk with them.  live where they live, as they live.  if i allowed this thought process to center me, i would embrace those times when i am short on money for that thing i want or trip i’d like to take or even for the lack of gas in my car, because i would be relating to my poor brothers and sisters.  and ultimately to Christ.

what if i could truly embrace pain as my teacher?

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