I was re-reading one of my favorite books again lately, and it prompted me to think more about its central theme - the human response to pain. In his novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexadre Dumas takes us on an incredible ride through one man's suffering, and how he first copes with it, understands it, and then acts upon it. At the pinnacle of his young life, Edmond Dantes has everything stripped away from him - his job, his promotion, his fiancee, his family, and his freedom. Wrongfully thrown into prison for 14 years, Dantes broods about his cell trying to piece his life back together, trying to understand what had happened. Once he connects the chain of events surrounding his imprisonment, he then seeks to understand why it all happened.
As I journeyed with Dantes through the recesses of his thoughts and emotions, I couldn't help but empathize with him. Why was this pain and suffering inflicted upon him? What purpose was there behind that?
When we suffer in life, when trials, struggles and hardships shake us, what happens to us? What effects do our situations and circumstances have upon us?
I believe that pain is one of the many tricks that the devil has up his sleeve. Remember that his ultimate goal is to win against God, and so if he can't prevent God's army from getting bigger, then he'll settle for the next best thing - making God's army weaker. And what better way to weaken God's army than by demoralizing them, by making them miserable, and by making them suffer? If he can make us weep in our misery and cower in the face of a seemingly unsurpassable pain, then the devil has won, hasn't he?
Problem is, that God's smarter than the devil.
"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
I believe that no matter who you are, no matter what religious views you have, no matter what age, ethnicity, or gender you are, when pain his you, your first instinct is to look up. The irony of pain is that it is the shortest route to God. We all do what Dantes did, don't we? We need answers, and instinctively we look up and ask the only one who knows.
Pain causes us to look up. It causes us to look away from ourselves, to look past our own immediate understanding, and to ask "why".
I love that notion! That even in the devil's best plans, God uses it for His purposes. Even when the devil thinks he's got an awesome weapon against God, God uses it to effect upon us the act of looking back at Him.
Stay tuned for my thoughts on why we look up, why we need explanations.