Trading Our Pain for Eternal Fellowship

Every heart knows pain, the inescapable culprit that reminds us of our broken, desperate state, and leaves us injured and in need of healing. The question is not if we will know pain, but rather, what will we do when pierced by its arrival? To this question, and when we find ourselves in this injured state, a humble Man from Nazareth gently approaches us and stoops to meet our downcast eyes. With heart so heavy and fragile and shame lurking in the shadows, we hesitate to return His gaze, for so invasive is His nearness. This humble Man is no stranger to pain, no avoider of sorrows, no foreigner to weakness. He comes so intentionally, as though He had been waiting for this very opportunity. It is as though the moments I’d most rather avoid, He awaits thoughtfully, knowing some hidden riches and potential gold to be drawn from them.

As my gaze meets His, His heart swells behind His eyes so visibly and unrestrainedly that I shudder at such pulsating tenderness and mercy. It is a tenderness so raw and unshielded by self-preservation that my own defenses rapidly arise in effort to make up for His lack. Generous, unabashed love pours forth from His presence, even without a word from His mouth. And in the captivity of His gracious gaze, I find myself at last yielding. My reticence slowly recedes to the background as my heart is drawn by His compelling compassion. With perfect and loving discernment, He directs His tender attention to the point of brooding pain in my heart and I nod my head in admission that He has found my place of need. Stooping yet lower still, He reaches for his towel, and pouring water into a basin, begins to wash me, to cleanse me, to heal me of my heart’s wound, as He alone can do (Jn. 13: 3 – 10; Hos. 6:1, Eph. 5:26). And slowly, so slowly, my prideful heart now humbled begins to realize that this humbling reception of His healing hand is my only hope at wholeness.

He Receives My Open Heart as a Gift

Strangely, and catching me off guard, as He lowers Himself in this servant posture, I feel His gratitude toward me. I am perplexed at what “thank you” He might ever offer me and in my perplexity, I find yet a whole new wave of Divine humility crashing in upon me. And I recall His words,

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden. If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me. If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek. I did not come for the healthy, but the sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners. Lest they should understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them…”

And somehow, I begin to understand that this simple opening of my heart to His knowing gaze and healing hand and the fellowship found in such lowly exchange is a sweet gift of love to Him. It is a gift of fellowship to be remembered for all the ages to come—when I humbled myself to receive washing and healing from the lowly One girded with a towel and washing my feet.

Everyone knows pain. Each heart suffers. But only some humble themselves even further than the humbling that the pain itself has brought, in order to be met by the lowly Servant and Healer who alone washes and restores heart and soul. We may talk of Him as Healer and speak of Him as Restorer, but when the grind of our brokenness surfaces or the piercing of pain transpires, often our last response is the simple meeting of His piercing gaze, the simple opening of our heart to His weighty, healing tenderness.

He is jealous over these times in ways we do not ourselves most naturally feel. For He sees as we do not see. Pain upon the heart forces us into quandaries and vulnerabilities of soul that we would never willingly go. And this is true of every kind or type of pain, no matter the cause. Here is where something beautiful can arise from what would otherwise be only despised. For it is here in these sorrows that love for Jesus and the sort of fellowship that only arises out of shared suffering can immerge. And it is here, as though peering into the heart spread wide upon the physician’s table, He can lovingly do within us what is impossible to do at any other time…if we will but allow Him to do so. If in these times of heightened pain, we really come to the humble Man from Nazareth, heart wide open, woundedness exposed, if we meet His gaze and His heart, allowing His cleansing and His healing, we will trade for our wounds something of eternal worth.

Pain becomes an Escort

What could have been only another injury or another blow becomes that sweet escort right into a greater fellowship and deeper love with our Beloved Jesus. And this is why He is always ready and eager to meet us in these times. He knows the gold of these tears if they are shed not in our self-preserved isolation but rather, in a heart-exposed communion with Him. Such tears shall be for us so precious in the ages to come, those kept in a bottle for their cherished worth, for they were wept in fellowship with the lowly Son of God (Ps. 56:8; Matt. 11:29). One day, when the pain is no more, the tears have been wiped away forever, and the sorrows have ceased, we will hold within our hands the bottle of these tears and count their worth as gold for the love and sweet fellowship born in the days of their shedding.