Over the past few weeks I have been learning that my qualification in ministry comes not from my successes but from the pain I’ve allowed Christ to enter into throughout my life. The funny thing about pain versus success as a qualification for significance is success is relative while the emotion and feeling of pain can be empathized by all. Yesterday I had a successful jog that was roughly 1.5 miles long. It was a successful run because it has been a few months since I’ve laced of my shoes and hit the dusty trail. When I got back from my jog I logged on to Facebook only to read that a friend of mine had just ran the Boston Marathon in 2 hours and 35 minutes – his new personal record. Now that is success and my “successful” jog just became a failure of determination and dedication! Right? To get caught up in a comparison game of comparing my “success” to his would steal from my significance as well as from his. It would be a much more beneficial conversation to talk about the shared pain we both know from running distances that are challenging for our stamina and endurance. A feeling of pain we both would know.
When I allow myself to be vulnerable enough to allow God into the pain in my life, he does something amazing. He heals, brings life and then sends me out to others who’ve experienced similar pain. Henri Nouwen compares this process very appropriately to the Eucharist. Christ with his disciples took bread, blessed the bread, broke the bread, and gave the bread. In this process I am qualified because of Christ has taken me, blessed me, redeemed my brokenness and given me purpose. My only job is to acknowledge and surrender my pain to Him within the prayer and encouragement of His people. This is where life and significance is born in the Kingdom of God; through the sharing of our pain with the people of God in our life.
My prayer this Easter week is that we recognize that suffering and pain is our crown, it is our significance, when we allow Christ who conquered the grave to be glorified in the process of bringing new life in us and through us. May we the Church create space to hear, see and experience each other’s pain and see Christ be Savior, Redeemer and Author of new life.
“I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church.” – Colossians 1:24
“So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the sever suffering it brought you. In this way you imitated bot us and the Lord” – 1 Thessalonians 1:6
“I have worked harder been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea…If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.” – 2 Corinthians 11:22-30
“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the corse, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” – Hebrews 12:2