I've had my share of years when my litany of pain was supposed to be the trump card that made all the difference. It was the excuse for bad tempers, laziness, fatness, a messy house and immaturity. Don't you love that stupid human trick of the pain contest? Whoever can make the longest list of grievances against life wins and gets to act like a spoiled brat.
If you can present the pain portfolio artistically enough you can even refuse to forgive present pain by being too weak and wounded to deal with it. You are hereby relieved of all requirements of the usual adult such as maturity, mercy, grace, and even responding to difficulty in a relatively calm manner. Now you are allowed to say this whenever you want to:
"I CAN'T TAKE ANYMORE!"
You can cry the ugly cry if those around you are breaking the rules and still expecting you to get over yourself. You can refuse to talk or you can screech. You can do whatever you want because you have had pain. Poor, poor baby.
It was in my late twenties or early thirties when I realized that perhaps other people might have experienced pain as well. Maybe even pain as bad or worse than my pain. May they didn't owe me a glimpse of their pain portfolio so that we could decide who got to be the official Victim.
If you believe the Bible or even have any sense, you have to acknowledge that there are people with histories that they will never reveal to you. There are just as many people right now in the middle of soul-numbing experiences that they leave at the door, greeting you with a smile.
Maybe we pain merchants who assign value and expectation by an internal formula are fools because we are not counting that which we cannot see.
There is only one fix for this economy based on whose pain is the worst pain and that is that pain is assigned no value except its achievement in the one who becomes more Christ-like in response. Will the person who claims to have lived through more hurt that Jesus please stand up?
Alright then, there is the measurement. Pain must create in us what it created in Christ. Any other response is that of flesh. The flesh only produces sin. And yes, we can be hurt and sin in response despite that beautiful excuse...PAIN.
The world doesn't revolve around your bellybutton. Or mine. Our pain is not the axis upon which those around us must orbit. The rules do change when we've been hurt. More is now expected of us. It is not likely to be a crucifixion of our bodies but it will be a crucifixion of our flesh.