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New eyes for pain


The church calendar is currently in the season known as “The Passiontide” – the last 2 weeks of the season of Lent. I’m looking at this season with new eyes. Historically this is a season for considering the suffering of Jesus leading to Easter.


I’m part of a Bible study where we’re trying to be with Jesus in our “holy imagination” as he experiences the events that lead to his death. The focus is on being with Jesus as a good friend, even trying to let my presence comfort Jesus while I gain new empathy for what He experienced.


As preparation for this type of imaginative practice, we were encouraged to think/remember what it is like to really be a good friend to someone who is suffering or dying. To remember the peaceful silences, the sharing of our experiences, simply the love between 2 people. Maybe we are able to right some relational wrongs, maybe it’s just about appreciating the chance to be together.


I have a friend who is really suffering, and I have had the privilege of sitting with and sharing his sorrow, sufferings, frustrations and his great, great love.


As I’ve been remembering and experiencing the pain and torment my friend is experiencing, I found that my appreciation for the suffering and torment Jesus went through is much more tangible. I found I have a new depth of understanding for Jesus’ pain. I rarely really dwell on this except for a moment on a Good Friday service, but then quickly things jump to Easter.


It has given me a new appreciation for Jesus’ humanity and what it would be like to be a good friend to Him as He is to me. Can I use my imagination to grow closer to Him this way? Yes.


Before I go into my imagination of this suffering period of Jesus’ life, there’s a prayer I pray. “The grace I ask for is this: I want to stay close to Jesus in his suffering as a good friend, sharing in his sorrow, grief and great love.”


As spiritual director Dale Gish says, “Many of us have experienced how painful it is to not be seen or to be seen falsely, or seen through a distorted lens.” If you have a moment, read Matthew 27. Try being with Jesus in this story as a good friend in His suffering and let it reveal the depth of your love for Him. I think you’ll see that it makes it easier to believe that Jesus truly sees our own suffering. Dale Gish finishes: “We have experienced the healing power of truly being seen by Jesus with love and compassion.”


- Anne Lider


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