Have you ever seen a small child fall down, tripping over their shoe laces or accidentally bumping their head against the wall? There is, in the aftermath, a moment that seems to be frozen in time. Is the child going to cry? Are they really hurt? A parent will often preempt the response by making a joke or encouraging their kid that he is okay. Sometimes we cry because of the fear of pain rather than the experience of pain itself.
Once we get a taste for pain, it is easy to become overly fearful of it. The threat can permeate our worldview. Everything could hurt. Everything might offend me.
David was a man who often cried out to God during fearful moments in his life. He knew how to express exactly what his heart was feeling. There are numerous Psalms by David that were written while he was afraid or in pain. Many times, afraid for his life, when he had enemies after him. The beautiful thing about David was that he knew God. He knew God’s heart. He knew God would never forsake him even when he felt scared or uncertain. He knew that he could cry out to God and God would listen to Him. He had confidence in the Lord.
At a staff meeting recently, someone took credit for something I had done. I suffered in silence, my skin boiling as I yearned to yell out that I deserved to be recognized! On the walk home, as I was fuming, I asked myself, "Does this really hurt?" Did the offense really cause me pain? Or was I acting like a child who cries at an unpleasant experience that "just frightened me"?
Our perspective often invents offenses. We want to justify our way of thinking, eager to blame others for our hurt, dissatisfaction, or ineptitude. Did the staff meeting encounter really hurt me? No. It didn’t really matter. Nobody (other than me) was thinking a thing about who got the credit or even what the good thing was. It doesn’t really matter at all.
It just scared me.
Acknowledging what truly hurts is vitally important. We have to be able to honestly name sorrow when it strikes, as David did. But we must be equally able to see when it is just the threat of pain that scared us into offense or sadness or anger. I’m not talking about covering up true pain. I’m talking about not adopting imagined pain. Life is difficult enough without my insecurity piling on. I must be able to ask myself, "Does this really hurt?" and have the courage to answer.