On Pain, Surrender, and Redemption
“God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form…The perfect surrender and humiliation was undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man.” -C. S. Lewis in The Case for Christianity
Jesus lays out the unattainable path to perfection. He takes a path that we, in ourselves, cannot walk…yet, we’re compelled to walk it. In our inadequacy, we pursue Him only to find we can’t in our own ability. I think it’s in our greatest desperation and lack that we collapse feeling completely unable and insufficient, only to realize He is truly our ability and sufficiency.
Within each of us are a mixture of natural gifts and learned traits or abilities. Some of us have the ability to endure substantial amounts of pressure. While others have a lower pain thresh hold and give in more quickly to life’s intensity. Ultimately though, we all crumble.
It’s in the crumbling that we can identify with the surrender and humiliation that Christ faced in His own humanity. His surrender was at the hands of a burdensome cup of suffering placed in His hands by our loving and fierce Father. Our suffering, like that of Christ, may also be found out in pursuit of some highly tuned value. More likely though, it’s in pursuit of something less noble.
Regardless, in the pain, we find the ability to be close to Jesus. It’s only in this place of desperation that we are positioned to experience His perfection. When our lives are most fragile, most marginalized, we have our greatest opportunity to be near our Redeemer Jesus.
If you’re like me, your first reaction to pain is bristling defensiveness. Perhaps though, we ought to more readily embrace the pain and suffering as the altar where we meet Jesus. Instead of viewing suffering as a place of desperation, maybe we ought to view suffering as an altar of beauty, transformation, and communion with God.
I don’t know that I’ve ever been at this altar of pain and benefitted myself by wallowing in angst. I do know that eventually as I work through my pain in this sacred pain-filled sanctuary, I have always found God to be sufficiently beautiful and redemptive. And, so life is expected to continue to bring the pain as we move through various phases of life. And, I for one aim to handcuff that expectation of pain to the hope of my Redeemer Jesus being sufficiently perfect in walking with His redeemed through the pain and humiliation to a beautiful surrender to realized dependency on His perfection.