Pain Quarantine

Angela Chininin Buele

Why You Can’t Ultimately Be Pro-Life If You Are Unwilling To Suffer With People

We all have our limits, the point where you have to tell someone, “Please, stop!  I do not need to know any more about the rat infestation in your neighbor’s garage.” Or maybe, like me, it’s a matter of what you cannot see or hear.  I am unnerved by watching (or even hearing) violence in movies and also by little kids showing me their loose teeth.  I am a mother, so I will clearly have to come to terms with the latter.

There are certain God-honoring limits we can set regarding the way we interact with members of the opposite sex, people outside of our families, and people we don’t know very well.  These offer a degree of protection (spiritual, as well as physical) and demonstrate wisdom and discernment regarding what is necessary and fruitful.  But there are also ways in which people are increasingly disengaging from communication and relationship when certain taboo topics are broached (i.e. religion, politics, and relational conflict).  These, which are no small matter of neglect, have been problematic in the culture at large for generations.  What seems to be a little more recent of a development in the “liberation through ignorance” department is the refusal to hear bad news.  This could be anything from a new cancer diagnosis to projected rain on someone’s wedding day.  When we are unwilling to hear truth because we don’t like it, not only do we discredit God as Sovereign and Good, but we also dull our minds by denying the growth required through each challenging situation.  The most poignant example of closing oneself off from unpleasant news is when we reject people in their pain and suffering because it causes us too much sadness,  whether it is a five-year-old girl who is battered by cancer treatments before she even begins Kindergarten or a woman who conceived because of rape and is contemplating abortion.  They are people who benefit by our walking the road and sharing the load with them.  Maybe it’s just a few steps, a shared prayer, or a hug, but we can’t love people without being with them in their need.

Key Question: Do you set limits in your relationships and communications with others? Are these walls designed to preserve yourself?  Why is it hard to open up to the pursuit of true edification?

Unshakable Truth: Jesus’ disciples fled when he was arrested.  Jesus sought out the woman caught in adultery, who was facing not arrest but stoning.   Preserving oneself is an investment of dust.  Jesus, on the other hand, surrendered reputation, time, safety, etc., to reach out to the lowest of the low because work in the eternal harvest fields produces an unmatched yield.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:15-18 ESV)

The Real Choice: Will you love people by sharing their hurt, or will you love yourself by rejecting a battered brother?

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