Contrasting with the rather frequent comment that Central Pain means God has something He wants to teach us, is the embarrassing realization that we are more ignorant than ever. A special thanks to the religiously minded who have tolerated our off the beaten path and mostly irreligious speculations.
“Ain’t no Job, Ain’t likely to become Job, and don’t want to try”.
We know that as a group, central pain subjects are spiritual people. It is evident in the depth of their communications. Yet, we have taken the risk here to “charge God foolishly”
What Job did NOT do was “charge God foolishly”–one writer has said that Job must have been put in the Bible for Jesus personally, since none of the rest of us could ever match Job’s obedient attitude. It is to be remembered that Jesus himself “debated” with God about whether his PAIN was really necessary, even after he was on record as accepting that his DEATH was inevitable. We think most of us would take Jesus’s side in the debate, which shows how weak we are and also that we are in quite good company. It has been suggested that the most difficult part of Jesus’s life was the powerful paradoxes he had to face. We can respect that as well. Not only PAIN, but WHY?
By mentioning Jesus here, we are NOT advancing any religion, but ideas. One is free to view his suffering as mythic or redemptive. Nor are we trying to take a stand on the existence of God. The principle of enduring well transcends denomination, creed, or philosophy. Certainly no one religion or philosophy has a monopoly on truth. Surprisingly, the idea of truth in all religions was perhaps best expressed by Muhammad Ali, when he said that lakes, rivers, streams and ponds all have water, which is the important thing, not by how we call them.
Severe pain is when life goes nuclear on us. A fakir can walk on red hot coals and not get burned, but even a fakir cannot walk through open fire. Don’t tell us about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego–you probably can’t even spell their names right so don’t expect us to match that either. The point is that, religious or not, unending pain breaks everyone…well, almost everyone. The degree to which we are broken is never quite clear, but as long as we are alive, there is some satisfaction in that.
What is almost unbelievable is that no one has written in to chastise us for various irreverent statements. We hope this means they understand that we are not intentionally facing God off, we are simply giving voice to the insanity of pain, deprived of any language to pray, which is what we would actually rather do, and suspect is what we are doing, even as agonized or even foul words which have nothing to do with spirituality, come out. While our lowliness may be in doubt, our lowness never is.
We have so written, not in conscious and aware defiance of the Almighty nor in blasphemous rage (although there were personal moments when this affront did occur, concerning which we hope God remembers the thoughtless expression no longer); rather we have tried to conjure up the storm of terror, despair, and agony which wracks the soul when the dysesthetic burning simply will not stop (which is never), and we can see that it is eroding our self by the minute (also a work in progress). The fitful outcry was a reflex, and one for which we repent, and attempt to prevent its reoccurring in our tormented thoughts.
What else can the weak mortal do but cry out as the emotional leprosy dissolves away the identity in chunks, leaving dangling strips of ugly emotional flesh. How can God allow this to happen?
However, these very words, “How can God allow this to happen” seem more suited to things like getting fired, being betrayed by a sweetheart, or losing a child. Although these land like a demolition hammer, they do not match the horror when awful burning pain arrives to set up permanent shop in our nervous system and in our consciousness. It is simply that line beyond which our reverent determinations almost become inapplicable. Words fail us. Shameful, futile questioning speech is the inevitable result; and may God forgive us.
In our shame, let us not show our remorse by harming ourselves. God has shown over and over that He is longsuffering. This gives rise to the possibility that He is one of us, so to speak, (Not to be sacrilegious, we merely extrapolate from the name, “Heavenly Father”).
Yes, many of us do ask the defiant question and in a stupid, damned way. When God rebounds with a “still, small” reminder of His sentiments, His eternal caring, we feel truly worthless. There is a tearing in the feelings. We are damned, but somehow, spiritually functioning. It is confusing. What have we become?
We have foolishly charged God. However, if one must write of the depredations of central pain, it would be inauthentic to conceal unworthy thoughts. We must have the shameful spiritual deformity, the ugly-should-have-been-aborted creature out in the open where we can see and deal with it. Making it real also exposes its erroneousness, and it loses some of its power over us.
We see some analogy in what Thomas Jefferson wrote:
“Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”
And Nietsche said:
“The most spiritual human beings, assuming they are the most courageous, also experience by far the most painful tragedies: but it is precisely for this reason that they honor life, because it brings against them its most formidable weapons.”
So let us honor life. It has indeed met us with formidable weapons. The struggle may in the long run make us stronger. However, if and when it happens, we do not intend to go back for a second helping.