"Then I wish I was never alive." My 5 year old's response to the fact that getting shots is a part of life. "So you think it would be better to have never been alive at all than to experience a very short amount of pain?" I asked somewhat shocked. "Yes." His answer definitive, unwavering. I tried to explain to my little boy a deep and complex truth. I'm not sure it went very well as he moved on to asking for ice cream at the first sign that mom was done talking. But it served a purpose in speaking to my own heart because, while I may be a little less dramatic or vocal about it, I do try to avoid pain at all costs. The pain of disappointing someone I love.
The pain of being rejected.
The pain of being losing something I hold dear.
"Sure, shots hurt buddy. But only for a little bit. And they aren't even something bad that is happening to you. In fact, they are something good because they are protecting you from something potentially much worse." Was my reply, which I'm sure sounded more like the mom from Charlie Brown the second the word 'potentially' exited my lips.
We moved on and the conversation was filed away in the distant, foggy memory part of my day until I was about to go to bed and I went in to kiss him goodnight. I began to think, if he truly believes that he would be better off never alive than face hardship, what does that say about his belief system? I think it means that feeling pain is absolutely the worst thing he can imagine. He wants to be pain free all the time. He is a little feel-good seeker. And as his mother, I want this for him. Naturally I don't relish in the thought of him experiencing the unpleasant things in life, whether physical or emotional. But I only know of one place where that is possible. There is only one place pain free and only one way to get there. The believer in Christ is promised this place, but to get there they must experience pain on some level. Now I know some people die in their sleep and some people die suddenly, and then there were those just taken up in a whirlwind, but to a certain degree I would argue that every death experience has an amount of pain associated with it.
I believe God to be sovereign over all. ALL. Perhaps he uses the pain to point us to him, to help us to be thankful for the times we are not in pain, to minister to those suffering alongside us. But tonight I was struck by another thought. Would I get very excited about a place where there is no pain if I never experienced pain myself? Would I cherish the man who will wipe every tear from my eyes is I had never cried about anything? No, of course not. It would be like telling a child who has never tasted a pea that they are moving to a town where they will never have to eat peas again. "Big deal, I don't have to eat them now," they would think, "and by the way, what's a pea?"
This week I completed the first custom order for my shop. A print of 1 Peter 1:23. In Christ I am not an imperishable seed. What makes this verse mean something to me? The fact that I feel and experience my perishable-ness every day.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
I feel my perishable-ness and I don't like it. I am a big feel-good seeker. I envy success, my motives are often out of whack and reveal a heart that wanders quickly. But I am told that I am an imperishable seed. And by the word of God through his son I know that one day I will not envy or seek my own good, and I will always have perfect motives! This perishable feeling is temporary! I can be joyful because I know the pain, and I know it will someday be over. What I glorious day that will be! I to think, I could have missed it all if I had never been alive.