It’s real. It’s searing. It’s not “fair.” And it never arrives at an opportune time.
Pain comes in all shapes and sizes.
Pain can be physical and/or emotional.
Just ask Nick Chubb, the University of Georgia’s star running back. Until last week, Nick was often mentioned as a leading 2015 Heisman Trophy candidate. During the first play of last Saturday’s game against Tennessee, a significant knee injury destroyed that dream.
Just like that, life can change.
One person’s pain is different from the next, but pain is universal.
And if you’re in a “pain-free zone” right now, savor it. Your time is coming. That’s just part of life.
We never know the pain that another person is carrying. And that should cause us to have abundant grace for one another. Should. Easier said than done.
But when we’re aware of others’ pain, how do we best comfort them?
Here are a few basics:
–Offer a simple hug. This touching picture of Georgia’s Coach Mark Richt comforting Nick Chubb after his injury provides a beautiful example. One warm and sincere hug means more than 1,000 words.
–If necessary, put duct tape over your mouth. Keep the words to a minimum. When a person’s pain is fresh, it is not the time for platitudes, Scripture verses or advice. I’m not a violent person, but have felt like one during painful times when receiving the verbal equivalent of a “pat on the head” when I really just needed the comfort of a hug.
–Learn from the Jewish custom of “Sitting Shiva.” When visiting a home of someone mourning the loss of a loved one, the visitors remain silent and wait for the mourners to initiate conversation. And if they don’t, the visitors remain silent, out of respect for their bereavement. Just sitting with someone in pain is beautifully supportive. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and will likely feel awkward. But, it is so very loving.
–Do something tangible and thoughtful. Don’t say: “what can I do for you?” The person in pain is just trying to survive. Any kind gesture will likely be appreciated. Just give without expecting a response.
And when you’re “it:”
–Cling to the belief that life will get better. When you’re experiencing fresh, raw pain, it’s hard to breathe or believe the pain will ever lessen. It will. Even if you don’t feel that, believe it.
–Be gentle with yourself. There is a difference between wallowing in a pity party and allowing yourself to grieve. Wallowing is not helpful. Grieving is essential for ultimate healing. And you have to feel to heal.
–Remember that the best thing for your pain might feel counterintuitive, much like turning into a skid in a car. Overcoming physical pain often involves pushing yourself to do something that hurts. (i.e. physical therapy). The same holds true for emotional pain.
–One day, you will find purpose in your pain. Perhaps it will be through comforting and encouraging others who walk the same path. Perhaps it will be from the strength you gain or from new circumstances or relationships that result. But try to remember that “God wastes nothing.” Especially our pain.
The reality of life on earth is that all of us will experience seasons of pain. But this life is not forever.
Be encouraged by these words from The Bible: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old older of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4
In the meantime…let’s be generous with our hugs!
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