Pain in the Mundane

On one of our recent flights we sat in the back of the plane next to a family with four young kids. We joked together about how they seated our noisy broods next to the white-noise producing engines.

When the plane started rolling down the runway for takeoff, our neighbors’ youngest son started to lose his cool. He threw off his seat belt, began kicking the chair in front of him, and fought his mother’s attempts to restrain him. He screamed at an octave that few human beings could reach as the plane lifted higher and higher into the sky.

A flight attendant made her way to their seats and asked the mother if she could help, insisting that the boy remain in his chair with his seat belt on. They had a brief conversation, and the flight attendant returned with some pillows. The mom gingerly arranged the pillows behind and in front of her son, cushioning his torso from the seat and the belt. Then the sobs that wracked his body slowed to whimpers. If you were sitting close enough to him you could see how his knuckles went white as he gripped his mommy’s forearm.

Perhaps the only thing hotter than the tears streaming down the little boy’s face were the annoyed glares directed at his family from other passengers. The passengers knew their peace was disturbed, but I don’t think they realized the child was in agonizing pain from the abdominal surgery he just had days before.

Although we all live in this fallen world that is rife with disease, heartache, and sin, the presence of pain isn’t obvious to all of us all the time. Proverbs 14:13 says even in laugh­ter the heart may ache. We have wounds of all kinds. Some of us bear scar tissue from trauma that only the Lord knows about. Ordinary life for many people means a pervasive awareness of pain.

Our circumstances beg the question: How do you cling to God’s grace in a pain-filled mundane?

It’s a significant question. The disabling, chronic pain that my husband began to experience a few years into our marriage has marked my own “ordinary” life. So I knew this question had to be addressed when writing about God’s grace in the home. Here’s a brief excerpt from Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home, from the chapter titled, “God’s Abiding Presence in Our Pain”:

“When I introduced my working definition of the mundane as the normalcy of your daily life, I’m certain that some of you cringed as you read it. Your mundane isn’t simple or ‘ordinary,’ by any means. Your daily life is marked by complicated situations and extraordinary pain. I can only imagine what pain is represented in those who read these words.

Yesterday morning a Christian teacher was mercilessly shot to death because he was telling his neighbors about Jesus. The mur­derers plotted against him, stalked him, and filled his body with bullets. I woke up this morning praying for his family; my heart is very heavy for his wife and their children. Most of us don’t live in the daily reality of being killed for our faith, which Jesus said is a strong potential (Luke 11:49). But now the daily mundane for this small family is marked by martyrdom.

One year ago this week some precious friends of ours lost their two-year-old son in a car accident. Not a mundane moment goes by when they aren’t aware of their loss. They would also say that not a moment goes by when the Lord is not aware of their pain, too. His abiding presence is a grace to their grieving hearts. Both of these families hope in Christ and his triumph over their pain.

My story is different from theirs, and so is yours. But the same God who ministers to them in the pain of their mundane can give us grace, too.”