Pain As a Way of Knowing

This is a meditation by Richard Rohr that I always want to remember.

Suffering is the necessary deep feeling of the human situation. If we don’t feel pain, suffering, human failure and weakness, we stand antiseptically apart from it, and remain numb and small.

We can’t fully understand such things by thinking about them. The superficiality of much of our world is that it tries to buy its way out of such necessary knowing. Jesus did not numb himself or withhold himself from human pain, as we see even in his refusal of the numbing wine on the cross (Matthew 27:34).

Some forms of suffering are necessary so that we can more fully know the human dilemma, so that we can even name our shadow self and confront it. Maybe evil itself has to be felt to understand its monstrosity, and to empathize with its victims. Brothers and sisters, the irony is not that God should feel so fiercely; it’s that his creatures feel so feebly. If there is nothing in your life to cry about, if there is nothing in your life to yell about, you must be out of touch.

We must all feel and know the immense pain of this global humanity. Then we are no longer isolated, but a true member of the universal Body of Christ. Then we know God not from the outside but from the inside!

Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 209, day 218

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