Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Perfume Within the Pain

The crushing moments of life have been so extensively written about in mankind's history that I wonder if I can contribute anything useful from within my own hammering upon the anvil. It has been said of evil that 'man's inhumanity to man is one of the most verifiable features of our existence'. It seems that this holds no less in the case of our own individual grief and sorrow - there seems to be no lack of it in supply. We have all either experienced it or will experience it in future; there is none that is spared. While it comes in many forms, few are as excruciating as those delivered by those closest to us.

The heart that is speared and the pain within the chest is no illusion; it is physically felt. The feeling is akin to someone holding the heart from within while it is beating, and squeezing it until it can beat no more. I've been told by others that have experienced it that this is the physical pain of heartbreak. The treasure that was most precious and kept carefully for so many years without being given away was treated as something cheap, trampled on and then shredded into ten thousand pieces. What is gone forever can never again be regained. Betrayal unlike anything experienced before has burnt everything built on trust down to the ground - there is not even foundation stone to be seen anymore. No comforting music soothes the soul; distractions are futile; money is as worthless as the paper that it is printed on; there is only so much that friends can do. In those moments, what do we do? When the heart is being torn asunder, to where will we run for comfort?

It is in the midst of the crushing agony that something draws me to yet another place of incredible grief and sorrow unlike any other in all of history - on level ground, at the foot of the Cross. I gaze at this incredible edifice in my mind. Though thousands of years old, the timber has not faded, cracked or begun to disintegrate. The wood is still stained with the blood that ran down in rivers from the body of Him who hung there. Though His body hangs there no more, the testimony of His suffering resonates in the silence that is almost deafening. In my own pain, I reach out and touch the wood, tracing my fingers over the stains of the blood flow that were indelibly soaked into it. As I gaze upwards at the holes in the wood where the nails were driven in, I realize that His pain that still resonates from the Cross was because of me - it was I that nailed Him there, and drove the spear forged from my own sin through the heart of the only pure One that ever walked this earth. And I am engulfed by the memory that with His broken and ruptured heart, He still looked upon me with love, forgave me and died there. As the pain reaches its crescendo and my own heart ruptures with this realization, the power of the Cross simultaneously reaches its maximum. For from within the pain contained with the blood-soaked wood of the Cross, a perfume begins to emerge, the scent of which is unmatched by any blend made by man in all of history. As I inhale through the tears, it speaks wisdom.

The excruciating pain of my own painful experiences allows the perfume of Him who I crucified here to infuse my own heart and spirit. And as the precious bottle of my own heart is broken, the perfume of Christ that is held within His Cross begins to penetrate my heart and to spread from within it. And it is at those moments of greatest pain that my Father is able to do His most powerful work, for His Sprit moves to transform me in that moment of crushing unlike at any other. I am reminded that the greatest power of Christ's life emerged not in His preaching or miracles, but when He was crushed on the Cross for what I had done. And if I desire to be like Him, the same inevitable fate awaits me as well; I cannot escape and will not be spared. I am reminded of the saying 'Him whom God would use greatly, He will wound deeply', and the statement quoted by Chuck Swindoll that 'When God wants to do an impossible task, He takes an impossible person and crushes him.'

Those who hurt me matter no more; they fade into the background as the perfume of Christ spreads around both me and His blood-stained Cross that I lean against so lovingly. One word escapes from my lips, calling the One whose Son I crucified and whose perfume I now inhale, by the most intimate name that I address Him by: "Papa". The response is instantaneous; He drops everything and comes running. The crushing is not over; it is not His time for the pain to leave yet. But He is there, grieving with me and for me in the midst of it all. He is there. And that is enough.

- The Wisdom Seeker