19 Sep God insists you forgive, but does He care about your pain?
Psalm 116:15 – O precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.
The Psalm above is God’s Word, which comes from His mouth and therefore it is true to its core, about how He is deeply pained, to see you suffer. Yet from the foundation of the world (when He had you in His mind), He knew exactly about this particular pain of yours and all the pain you would ever experience but He had planned the remedy for it. It is imperative that you come to the knowledge that, He has always cared for your pain.
Referring to the word “death”, in the Psalm, is not only limited to the demise of a person, but it also expands to mean the bruises and damages experienced by you and me, which is considered precious in the eyes of God.
So what exactly does “Precious” mean?
It does not mean that God gets thrilled to see the sufferings we have gone through (though He does value it, for a higher good to come). Precious is in fact considered very COSTLY, in the eyes of God. That the suffering we endured (especially when it was unjust), was very costly, to Him, seeing us endure it (since we are so weak in comparison to the omnipotence of Our Father).
The irony of forgiveness:
Often it seems that because God is very firm about the fact that we need to forgive, we feel He does not seem to pay heed to our pain, as He does not provide immediate justice. Alternatively, some people view forgiveness as making the pain worse, because it appears that they must put their offender before them and forget about themselves. Very often than not the offender, may show no remorse and even carry on being nasty.
Luke 11: 5 – 6, 17 & 33-36
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days…..
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
When Jesus saw her (Mary) weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
The account of the raising of Lazarus, proves two things:
It is clear even though Jesus knew the tears of the sisters would only be temporary, the heart of Jesus was hurting to see this, such that He could not help but weep. Of course, He definitely did not weep because Lazarus died, since He came to raise Him from the dead and foresaw the joy and glory awaiting Lazarus and his sisters.
Yet earlier on, though Jesus knew the pain the sisters were in while Lazarus was sick, He was firm about not going to heal him. He waited for him to die, because Jesus wanted them to experience freedom from fear of death, when they realized that in Jesus, death is not final, but that He is the resurrection.
This is similar to God being firm with us about forgiveness, though He knows it sometimes grievously hurts us to forgive (such that it almost seems ridiculous for Him to demand forgiveness). Yet He sees the healing and cleansing effect it has and though He does weep over our pain, He knows it will only be temporary, if we are willing to cooperate with Him.
Does God really understand how costly my pain is, because it sometimes seems to me that He discounts it?
Is Psalm 116:15 just mere words, maybe God is giving us a rub on the back and hastening us to quieten down or even shut us up, so that we stop crying, grumbling and even worse, going against His rule of harmony, by taking revenge?
Like a parable, the verses below, explains that each time we go through pain, He endures the same suffering of pain and worse, which is not to be mistaken as someone sharing the pain with you.
Matthew 25:41-46 – “Then (Son of Man) he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
How do we understand in-depth, the seriousness of this statement?
A one word answer for this is: His death on the cross (as we will see below, in details).
Understanding how excruciating your pain is, to God the Father
Every Christian knows that the whole law is summed up in the Ten Commandments. However, only (the first) three of these commandments, directly focuses on how to avoid offending God, but the majority, which is the rest of the seven commandments, are about how to keep from sinning against your neighbour.
While the majority of us, are regular church goers, it is safe to say that, we do not often intentionally break the first three commandments, which is directly against God.
Rather, more often, we break the remaining seven commandments (which is against others). The reason behind this is that, we do not often have grievances towards God, but we tend to have several grievances towards others – and God knows this very well!
Therefore from the beginning of creation, the Father, decreed that Jesus would be sent as a sacrifice, to take away our sins.
How does the below scripture provide substantial proof that our pain means a whole lot to God?
Colossians 1:16,18-20 – For in him (Jesus) all things were created… all things have been created through him and for him. And he is the head of the body, the church… For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, … by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
- Even though God is all powerful and is definitely not weak hearted, His heart is so Sacred, that it brims with perfect love, which can only build up. Hence there can never be any trace of hate in Him and the effects of hate which tear down – because that goes directly against His very nature.
He knew that mankind would sin and tear down the heart of one another, which is against His holy heart and would be very grievous for the Father to accept. This is why He charged Jesus (for whom all mankind was created) and not us, to bear the responsibility of making reparation to the Father (through the most painful sacrifice on the cross), for the sins I committed against you (God and myself), etc.
The Father (in His Divine Justice) demanded that the Son (through His sacrificial heart of Divine Mercy), atones to the Father, for these offenses.
Why so? Because we recall that He said that sin and the destructive wounds it inflicts us with, is too costly a pain that the Father has to endure see us in, besides the wounds we directly inflict on Him. Remember too, that most of the laws we break are directly against each other, in comparison to the fewer laws we break intentionally and directly against Him.
While there are several other dimensions to the reason behind Christ’s death, His atonement for our pain and wounding, is a very important one.
- It is also important to consider that, for the very sins and wounds against you, you could not satisfactorily pay a price to the Father, for your offender (even if you wanted to), because of how the sin has offended you in body and soul. Only Jesus could!
This is how much the Father values your pain and understands the catastrophic effects it has on your entire being.
However, the only price you can pay, is to join with Jesus’ sufferings, in consciously making a painful act of forgive your offender and pray for him/her.
In the end, it is because we are all wounded that we wound the other
Romans 3:23 clearly points: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Now because, “An eye for an eye, will make the whole world blind”, since each of us have sinned, what is God to do with creation – wipe it out? He cannot, but rather expects us to (patiently along with Him): Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13)
If with the eyes of faith, we ponder deeply over how the Father is even more pained for us, each time our offender wounds us, we will be comforted in knowing that God does not discount our pain at all!
For the words of scripture ring true about how the Father loves us, because as much as He loved His own son Jesus (for our sake), He DID NOT SPARE Him.
“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all,…” Romans 8:32
Proof that God grieves for our wounds is not only in scripture, but it can be understood by the sacraments
Scripture (written 2,000 years ago) is not the only source of this proof, there is sacramental proof as well, which has always been in the Catholic Church.
If I have seriously offended you, it is not okay with God, that I only approach you for reconciliation. I have to go to the confessional and also ask for God’s pardon for what I did to you – because as your Father, He is offended!
Though we ask God for forgiveness in confession, it is not only when we break one of the first three commandments (which is directly against Him). But should that not be the case, since in confession, we go to God to ask pardon for offending Him? Is He not satisfied with us asking Him forgiveness for sins against Him only? No, He considers my offense to you, a wound and sin against Him too because “though we are many, we are one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5).
There is also evidence from the priest’s words of absolution (given below), where we see that because the Father’s heart is wounded (for sins against us and Him), He has decreed that only the merits of the death and resurrection of God the Son, can make perfect atonement to Him, while the offender is duly pardoned:
God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Finally, even if my sin against my brother, was not mortal, Christ Himself will only permit me to receive His Body and return to friendship with Him, after asking God’s pardon through the Penitential Act which is at the beginning of the mass.
His Healing plan:
Revelation 21:4 – He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
God also knows all too well the areas of pain that we have gone through in prefect detail and much more than we do. So even though we may be tempted to feel that our cares and wounds are unattended to, through faith, we should be even more confident to leave it to Him, to take care of.
In fact, there are (inner) wounds we may feel brave enough to brush off, but as per His perfect diagnosis, He wishes to nurse that wound, which we sometimes discount. Our Father knows the miniscule details of our pain, that we are ignorant about with His eyes being 10,000 times brighter than the sun, He scans and keeps account of all the pain we have, longing to heal us, in His time.
Allowing God to heal us:
There are profound reasons God asks us to forgive everyone (and some of it can be a mystery), but one thing is for sure, as difficult as it is to forgive (especially some incidents), by putting an end to the desire to avenge or cease hating or wishing evil for the enemy, we please God with our bold strides of faith. Consequently, we have let go of the entire issue in trust, left it to the care of Our Father.
By forgiving, two things happen simultaneously; we let go of the hate and thus the problem is completely released to God. By this, we automatically remove any restrictions from our side for Him to act on our behalf and give Him full reign over the problem.
Considering our pain is so “precious” to Him, when we literally lay the whole burden upon Him, He is compelled to act quickly for us.
His act has various dimensions to it; healing us, empowering us to stop being wounded by similar offenses in future, giving us divine insights, causing the offender to repent and make up in some way (if it is too late to make up with you, then to turn their life around and do a permanent good service to others) but if they refuse, then they have to eventually accept the hand of justice upon them.
A preplanned healing remedy that gifts us with Divine insight
While (excruciating) pain is too costly a price to pay, some of it molds us, by forcing open our eyes to become sharper, let go of what we were unhealthily attached to and makes us more like Jesus in being compassionate to others, who suffer in this same area of pain and help them come out of it.
Isaiah 40:31 – But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles…
Jesus’ package deal – He is the only one who can “reverse” sin, undo its damage and make things better than before
If Jesus is the only one who could wipe out our sins, firstly by mercifully agreeing to be the atonement, (as per the demands of supreme justice), then it is also only He, who can remedy our pain. To elaborate, it means, by bearing our sins upon Himself, He is the only one who knows all about our sins and therefore only He knows the perfect way to conduct the process of healing our damaged heart, broken by the sin inflicted on us. Furthermore, He can even go so far as to heal the guilt that our offender brings upon himself or herself, through this very sin (which He died for).
Isaiah 61:1: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
A note about forgiveness: While God demands that we forgive, He does not demand that we resume relations to full strength with our offender, especially if we know we will be in danger of the same (serious) offence, again.
Further reflection: These reflections stem from a very effective teaching by Fr. Paul Nicholson, on his struggle to forgive and how he found the key to forgive, by relying on Our Father’s love: The Secret of How to Forgive – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hiyws1dh8I0