Today’s Readings: Isaiah 40:1-11; Romans 8:22-25; Psalm 126
[After a few months exploring another denomination’s daily reading schedule, I have decided to return to the daily lectionary reading plan offered by the United Church of Christ.]
A few months into my first pastorate, I met with a trusted colleague of mine to process how things were going. While things were going well for the most part, there were a couple of things that were causing me some pain and frustration – so I spent a good deal of time exploring those areas.
At several points in the conversation I asked my mentor what I could do to make the pain go away. My mentor said, “Craig, you need to realize that not all pain is bad. Some pain is necessary if you are ever going to let go of the old and embrace the new.”
I didn’t appreciate my mentor’s words at the time; later, however, I realized my mentor was right. I had failed to appreciate that the pain involved was actually a positive thing – because it meant that we (the congregation and myself) were finally letting go of unhealthy ways of being. And any time we let go of something familiar - even if that something is incredibly destructive - it’s always uncomfortable.
I was reminded of that conversation by today’s reading from Romans; in that passage, Paul wrote: “The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs” (Romans 8:22-23 from The Message).
Perhaps there is an area in your life where you are experiencing pain. Before you try to simply eliminate the pain, ask yourself a crucial question: “Is the pain I am feeling a natural part of the process of letting go of unhealthy ways of being and embracing a healthy new way of being; or is it simply an unhealthy, destructive pain?” If you find that the pain is the kind associated with birthing a new life-giving way of being, perhaps it will make living through the pain a little easier. Til next time…