The other evening I was listening to Bruce Haire share some thoughts in our mid-week service. One tidbit rose above all the other very good concepts Bruce shared.
“We are often captured by the stronghold of our own pain.”
Pain takes on many faces and those who suffer often think that their particular pain is far worse than any pain suffered by others and self-pity saddles up and rides their life into the ground. Pain is real, even if it’s only imagined, in that intensely repeated acceptance of it as real has the same debilitating effect as the real deal. To emphasize this reality Earl Nightingale told of a man riding in a refrigerated rail car and somehow got locked in and could not escape. When they discovered his body they were amazed. The rail car was not hooked to other cars, the cooling unit did not work and it was earlier hooked to a train along with other cars to go in for repairs. The railcar was parked in southern Arizona, yet the man had all the symptoms of having frozen to death. Strange isn’t it?
Fear inducing pain can be and often is a killer. One thing modern physicians are trained to do is to lead patients to face the reality while attempting to cast out the fear associated with the cause. Cancer, the very word induces fear at the first sound. The emotional pain is often worse than the physical. No one wants to suffer physical pain, but many are suffering tremendous emotional or mental pain and it is having a rapacious effect more devastating than would actual physical suffering.
Around 45 years ago I took a man with me to visit Lee Hale, a man who one day came to the house from the field of corn he was working. He parked his tractor and never went to the field again, but was to spend the rest of his long life in an Iron Lung, a victim of polio. Lee suffered, but he also triumphed over the pain. With the undying love of his wife they founded and operated what became the largest mail order card company of its kind. His faith was stronger than his pain.
The man who accompanied me was even younger than me. He was a specimen of health. He was married, had a few children and a decent job, and appeared to be a man of faith. I sure misread his emotional health as a few weeks would tell. He said shortly before his death, “Larry, you know, in many ways Lee is better off than we are.” A dark depression took hold on him and in less than six weeks after visiting Lee he took his life. The emotional/mental and spiritual pain was more than he thought he could bear.
Others bear, somehow, grinding poverty and they can tell you that kind of pain is worse than broken limbs or hearts or even broken homes.
Please, I know about the deadbeats who won’t work, but, I also know about people who work day in and day out for substandard wages and simply cannot make ends meet and are taken advantage of on every hand. Often they are afraid to try for something better because they might become worse off.
I have been amazed during the entirety of my post conversion life at how often Jesus Christ gives a word of encouragement to those who are afraid. They are afraid of suffering or of losing prestige or fortune and of course life itself. In the Bible many who prayed were actually scared out of their gourd when an angel or the Lord suddenly appeared to them. Daniel, the one who faced lions all night, was petrified when an angel appeared to him. John, the apostle who was “in the spirit on the Lord’s day” when Christ in resurrection glory appeared to him, fell at His feet as dead. (Rev. 1:17). The first word’s Christ spoke to him were: “Fear not.” (Rev.1:18).
After the fall in Eden the first emotion felt and acted on by Adam and Eve was fear at the sound of the voice of God. They who had walked with Him, received instruction from Him and enjoyed Him, attempted to hide from Him. Fear often causes humans to want to run from the true source of solutions to life’s problems.
Bruce gave a simple method of dealing with life’s problems, in whatever form they appear, a simple Bible blueprint for breaking the thought, thus the reality of feeling “Captured by the stronghold of our own pain.” Here is the plan:
Admit the problem.
Ask, what can I do about it?
When can I start?
Simple? Absolutely. It is based on 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
When faced with fear situations I have often sought refuge at 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Copyright © 2014 Larry Lilly
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