Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It Pains Me to Say This...

"There shall be no more pain" (Revelation 21:4). I have no fondness for pain. Not a single happy painful memory. Sure, good things have often risen out of pain. But neither the pain itself nor the memory of it bring a smile.

Jesus said we will always have the poor with us. The same is true of pain. Pain is always at hand. If not our own, then someone we know. Can you think of someone you know right now who is suffering? I can.

A grieving family a few miles north of me struggles with a pain I cannot imagine -- the drowning death of their three-year-old son.

A dear couple in our church family brought a sack of fresh vegetables from their garden to give to their daughter yesterday...only to be met at the door by the son-in-law saying, "When I tried to wake her up this morning, she was dead."

Parents burying their children flies high off the pain chart.

We know where pain originated. Genesis. The book of beginnings tells us. Adam, Eve, and the serpent had the first committee meeting in human history and decided one of God's rules was suspect. They decided God didn't have their best interests at heart, so they deliberately dined on a forbidden fruit.

God punished each of them with pain. The serpent's mode of transportation went from whatever it was to belly-crawling. If you don't think that's painful, try it. Along with the belly-crawling, the serpent's sin earned him dust-eating and head-crushing.

The woman's punishment was two-fold: Greatly multiplied sorrow and pain when having children, and having to submit to the authority of the dumber of the two genders. Why childbirth? Probably for more significant reasons than I, the dumber of the genders, will ever know. But childbirth had not yet occurred in human history. Chapter 4 of Genesis hadn't been written yet. So, childbirth, the next event in Adam and Eve's lives, was going to be more unbearable (pat yourself on the back if you recognized the pun) than originally planned.

The man obviously took one for the team when the punishment was handed out, though. One could argue that the woman's punishment would be enough for both genders due to the fact that the woman's punishment would naturally be transferred onto the man. Thus, the phrase, "If momma ain't happy, nobody's happy" was born.

Not only that, a man standing next to a woman during the birthing process, FEELS her pain if he is dumb enough to be within reach of her fingernails or teeth. We usually are. One bite has led to a billion more. The woman's second punishment lands in the man's lap as well. Things like heavy sighing, rolling of the eyes, tapping of the foot, hands on the hips, etc., have all evolved from this punishment.

But wait...there's more! For the man. Man had to go out and work the uncooperative fields. The woman and kids needed food. Food came from the ground. But the ground was as cooperative as the clamped jaws of a baby refusing a spoonful of medicine. Thorns, thistles and sweat awaited the man every day until he dropped dead.


Isn't it interesting that the Bible introduces us to pain's birth in the first book and then points to pain's death in the last book? "There shall be no more pain."

What happened between Genesis and Revelation that led to the promise of a future in heaven without pain? The answer is not a what, but a who...


Jesus happened.

Genesis even predicted Jesus would happen. When God was doling out the serpent's punishment, He said, "I will put enmity between you (serpent) and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He (Jesus) shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15, parenthesis mine).

Seems to me the winner of that battle is the one with the bruised heel. My, what a bruise it was. Are you with me? Between the birth of pain in Genesis to the death of pain in Revelation, Jesus was born.

Jesus was born.

The cure came via the curse.

Jesus came to pay the price for the sin of humanity. He gathered up all the rotten apple cores that have ever fallen from the sin-dripping lips of mankind, toted them to the cross, and paid for them with His life. Through pain.

More pain than any human has ever known. Through His own excruciating pain, He paid sin's penalty with His pure life's blood. The pain was meant for us, yet He stepped between it and us and took it upon Himself.

We still feel pain. Though the penalty has been paid, though forgiveness has been settled, we still live with pain...for now. But there is coming a day when there will be no more pain.

That's something worth knowing. And worth sharing.

Advil until then...
Perry Crisp

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