Pain and Justice

“So how was your trip?” Quite a few people have asked me that this week and I still don’t know how to answer. I’ve managed to say something about just how beautiful it all was, but even after three weeks back home I don’t know how to talk about all the things I saw. I barely know how to think about them.

It is one thing, I have learned, to go to another place and meet people you understand to be vulnerable. You can stand there and keep your emotions out of it and look at facts and figures and ask why.

But that is not what transforms.

It is another thing entirely to stand with them in light of your own vulnerability, to understand where you hurt and how those things mean you aren’t nearly as different as you once thought.

Our Sunday School group talked about suffering yesterday. The understanding we came to is that we can only comfort others in suffering when we know what it is to suffer.

So yes, the trip was beautiful. We saw God redeeming in incredible ways. And as we worshipped alongside those we’d come to meet and learn about, I began to understand the power of vulnerability.

In worship, they invited Christ into the vulnerable places they’d shared with us. In some strange way, though, they also invited him into the places we were vulnerable. It’s only as we began to understand our own pain that we were able to understand what justice really is.

It’s easy to go out and try to save the world. It’s much, much more difficult to go and hurt with others, to let their pain touch yours, and to let God redeem both.

Until we do, though, we’re the ones who miss out.