This world is a really tough and hard place. When we are exposed to it, we find there is so much pain and suffering. We hear about all the people facing cancer and death, and all of the hungry and starving children of the world. We have to deal with rape, abuse, human trafficking, and terror attacks. Just as I write this, there was a terrorist attack in Brussels, Belgium where 31 have died and over 100 have been injured. It hurts. Everything around us seems to hurt sometimes. Those of us from every background, rich and poor — we all deal with it. Everybody has a story, and they all seem to be wrapped in pain. We can so easily get overloaded with all the pain, hurt, and suffering. All of us have different ways of dealing with pain and suffering, many of which I hope to address here.
One of our first responses to pain and suffering is a deep feeling of hurt and sadness. Then we want to react. We don’t want to feel this; it hurts! We can try to numb the pain by shutting ourselves off to it. Like an emotional tourniquet to stop the constant flow of hurt, we try to just shut ourselves down so that we won’t feel a thing. If we are numb then nothing can hurt us, right? But where does the numbness stop?? This approach tends to lead to a state of depression — a dull sense of living. It is basically throwing out the baby with the bathwater. We don’t feel pain anymore, but we also miss out on all the joy of life. It just doesn’t work. Going numb will slowly kill you on the inside, because you have to sacrifice everything just to not feel the pain.
Sometimes instead of trying to deaden the pain, people will attempt to make something just scream louder than whatever hurts. One form of this is self harm. Have you ever bitten your tongue when something hurt? That is a lesser form of it. It really becomes an issue when it is used to deal with emotional pain, it’s basically using physical pain to try to distract yourself from the constant overwhelming pain of your emotions — to distract yourself from everything ringing in your head. It’s the opposite of going numb. Instead of under-feeling, you over-feel, and it’s a terrible cycle once you get caught in it. You start off with it trying to kill the pain you feel, but you quickly find that it doesn’t really make it go away, and in fact it makes it worse. Suddenly, you are hurting yourself to escape the pain of life and to escape the pain of what you are putting yourself through. You’re scared of how much you want to do it, and you resent yourself for it, but it seems like the only thing you know to do anymore. Also, if you have been sinking in the numbness of depression for a while, it is easy to slip into self harm as a way to try to feel again. With the lack of emotion slowly eating away at you, physical pain may seem like a natural resort so that you can at least feel something again, but again it doesn’t fix the problems, and it actually makes more. It’s an endless loop you’ll get trapped in.
Another response to pain, whether as a direct response or coming as a result of other failed attempts at escaping the pain, is to compulsively indulge in pleasure. Whenever something hurts, you run to what makes you feel better. Sometimes this comes in the form of pornography or masturbation. It makes you feel good, and distracts you from anything you’re dealing with. It’s like a drug, a narcotic. It takes you away from what you’re dealing with and puts you into an imaginary world where everything is great… but fake. It’s like running into a dream to escape reality, but the dream is a lie. And it’s a lie that steals and kills. Another form of this is social media. (Yeah. I just said social media can be like porn.) Social media can be used to distract yourself from feeling the pain, like a narcotic. It’s just the same, running to a fake dream to escape reality. You can sink into a fairy tale where everything is just great and you love life so much because nothing hurts and everything is perfect. News flash: fairy tales aren’t true.
Sometimes, instead of trying to hide the pain, you run from it. It chases you through every moment of the day, creating a swirl of anxiety and stress. It’s like carrying a big weight on your shoulders around with you everywhere you go. It makes everything so much harder, even easy things can become intensely hard. You can be sad all the time, where nothing brings you joy. Always feeling the looming tension in the air. Feeling a sense of distress, but not knowing what to do about it.
All these things, they don’t fix it; they don’t heal our pain. They just try to cover it up. But we want a cure, not a medication. We don’t want a painkiller. We don’t want a distraction. We don’t want to just cut it off. We want a cure, and Jesus is the cure! Jesus is the answer; Jesus solves the problem. The answer is not found in a drug or in pleasure. It’s Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
Jesus is the answer for anxiety. He can take all the pain and stress away. The weight on your shoulders can be lifted. With Jesus, you can have joy. In Him there is peace, a peace that passes all understanding. In His presence there is fullness of joy. With God, we can have a deeply rooted joy that never goes away. And His peace is worth more than anything in this life; it’s a precious gift.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7
“in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” – Psalm 16:11
Jesus is the answer for the aching of this life. We all feel it from time to time, and we feel the easy pull of temptation towards various pleasures and fantasies to try and escape the pain, but Jesus is the real comfort and relief we are seeking. Enjoying something is not the problem, but enjoying something sinful is. God does not wish for us to be without fun or enjoyment, but He wants us to have those things within His will. And God never intended for pleasures to be our go-to when dealing with pain. We are supposed to run to Him! We were never meant to indulge in these various forms of escapism, anything from porn to social media. Truth is, we don’t need an escape, we need to go to our Heavenly Father!
“in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4
Jesus is the answer for self-harm. We don’t have to pay for our sins, because Jesus already did! We only need to believe in Him and confess our sins to Him, then He takes away the punishment for our sins and puts it on Himself! He was already bruised and beaten for you, and He doesn’t want to see you needlessly go through it. We don’t have to run from the pain; we just have to run to Jesus. Jesus can hold you and keep you through the pain. You don’t need to be distracting yourself from it. Focus on Him, and you can walk on the water too.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5
Jesus is the answer for depression. Jesus can be your joy and hope. We don’t have to numb ourselves to the world. We don’t have to give up feeling so that we don’t feel hurt. We just need to cling to Jesus when we are hurt, and He will hold us together. You can go numb, or you can heal. If you choose Jesus, He will bring healing. He will take the pain away and turn it into a masterpiece that shows His goodness. God can take your mess and turn it for your good and His glory.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” – Hebrews 6:19
If you are hurting and are running to things like what has been mentioned here, I hope you see that there is another way, a better way. You see, all those other things you try, they will never work because they all look to you, or sometimes to others, as the way to cope with the pain. But no matter how many times you run to them, they will never really heal you. There is hope for true healing. Nothing in this world has that power, but Jesus does. Know that Jesus loves you, and that He wants you to not just survive, but to thrive. God has a special plan and purpose for your life. You can look to Him and bring all your pain, all your fears, and all your questions to Him. He will take the burden from you and give you the grace to walk through the storm. He will carry you to the other side. You were made to soar. I know it might feel scary, but you can leave behind the walls you have built up and step out into a new realm of surrender and trust in God. When you do, He will take you, heal you, and teach you how to fly.