I’ve been so sick for so long that looking back over the past few months is like staring into a dark tunnel. I’m just glad to be at the other end.
I’m a little too worn out to fully analyze the experience. Maybe some things are meant to be endured and survived rather than understood.
Still, I do know that there is a metaphysical, spiritual conundrum that we never quite escape in this life. C. S. Lewis called it the “problem of pain.”
Why do we get sick? Why do we hurt? And, hey, if we’re going to ask these questions why not go all the way … why do our babies get sick? Why do so many children suffer?
Of course, I don’t know how to answer those big questions. Does anyone? Lewis himself offers a bounty of wisdom, but it isn’t as if even he lets us off the hook. We won’t find the ultimate answer in a book. I believe we’ll find it one day in a face. Jesus’s face. But, I haven’t yet looked into those eyes, so, for now, it’s all hope.
Even if we can’t fully answer the “problem of pain” on this side of life, I don’t think we’ll ever get close if we ignore the little problems. The everyday pain.
When Jesus said to pick up our crosses and follow him, I don’t think he was telling us to suffer in silence. To just shut up about it already! Though, I admit, I sometimes picture him rolling his eyes in response to my whiny prayers. But, in my mind, it’s a fond exasperation.
That picture – of someone picking up their cross and following – is kind of nice, actually. As if Jesus were telling us that even our pain is a part of the story. Even our pain matters in some way. Pick it up, bring it along, I’ll take care of it, he says. Maybe today, definitely someday, it will be dealt with.
I won’t forget the tears you’ve cried.
So, what do we do in the meantime?
I’m not sure, but for the first time in months, I’m taking a good look around.
By the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel I can see blue skies. I can feel a warm breeze. And the scent blowing across my face is the heavy sweetness of backyard orange blossoms.