Passion and Pain
This is Holy Week in the Christian calendar, and we who are recipients of God’s salvation gift, which is grace by faith, reflect on Jesus’s Passion Week of physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. The sham of a trial, the mocking of His deity, flogging, humiliation, public stripping, and exposure that He endured to cancel our sin and connect us to God is the focus of our study and discussions. Though no one can imagine the degree of His suffering, some can come closer than others.
The ladies at My Cup of Tea are too familiar with both extreme physical and emotional pain. Chronic physical suffering is the ubiquitous menace among the ladies in Orange Mound. All but two have never had a primary care physician until coming to The House and learning of Christ Community Health Services. Generations of using old remedies when pharmacies were beyond walking distance have kept few healthy and often have proved to be impediments to wellness. Without physical health maintenance, the accrued damage to joints and organs is now irreversible.
Dental pain is often unbearable and sadly inevitable. With no consistent history of dental checkups and little knowledge of the importance of dental hygiene, abscesses are commonplace. Several of the ladies have pulled their own teeth rather than face the dentist provided by the dental clinics to which we have taken them. Many are afraid of the Novocain needle. With their missing teeth, dentures are ill-fitted, uncomfortable, and of little help in chewing.
For the knees, elbows, and other joints, the tardy application of braces has brought temporary relief, but no cures without surgery. Medicaid and Medicare have been available to some, but most haven’t known how to access the benefits. The default when in need of care is to spend hours in the ER.
These ladies know real physical pain and are tough in its unrelenting presence. They know less about health maintenance and the functions of their organs, lymph systems, bones, and joints than one might expect. We don’t play doctor, but we treat minor wounds and allay fears of the unknown often preventing unnecessary late night ER visits.
Encouraging probiotics and healthful choices in diet is another new concept for many. We grow many vegetables in our gardens, we juice donated fruits into healthy smoothies, and nutritious lunches are provided daily.
Recently a spring cleaning day of carrying wood branches to the curb, washing porch furniture, and harvesting from the winter garden was exhausting and required frequent breaks for rest. The ladies do not have the physical endurance to match women their age who have exercised regularly. Poverty doesn’t condone aerobics, weightlifting, or Pilates.
Many of us will reverently focus during Holy Week on Christ’s torture on Calvary without a personal reference to His pain, for we have never had such anguish. Modern day pain is addressed with drugs and anesthesia. Recovery is quicker in this century as never before. Identifying with Jesus’s physical pain is impossible if emergency medical assistance is within call. Most of us cannot begin to conjure the pain He suffered on our behalf because we have had easy and affordable access to doctors and clinics and medicines to numb us in our suffering.
The women at My Cup of Tea, however, have a closer bond with Good Friday’s august torment of our Lord, for they have known annoying and acute pain with only minimal relief. Perhaps loving their Savior for sparing them the eternal pain of sin is theirs in more depth, appreciation, and respect than ours.
Easter celebrates the purpose, plan, and perfection of God’s goodness. Christ’s pain was deposited, His body given new life, and the redemption of the seeming injustice of His suffering bought my life to be resurrected with His. He knows well our pain today, and He lives walking in pace and place not only to intercede but to comfort us. He experienced the abandonment and judgement lasting on the cross to the death. In His humanity He endured, but in His divinity, He conquered death and sin for those who find Him eternally relevant and irresistible.
Pain is less today because of access to modern meds, but pain-free and eternal joy is assured because He lives.