Of all the post-resurrection readings I love this one, where Jesus comes and shows his disciples his hands and feet, the most. There is something so utterly real, so vulnerable in his action. The risen Christ is different, but he carries the wounds of his suffering in him. This echoes my own experience that the deep wounds of my life may find closure and healing, but I carry their scars with me.
I don’t understand why God created us to experience pain, but I know that suffering and pain are an integral part of our human experience. It is in our nature to live and die. We grieve, we mourn, we battle under hardship, and we suffer from diseases of body and mind. In the process we grow and become ourselves.
Of course we are all desperate for a cure, for the alleviation of the pain we feel. At the top of our minds is that we don’t want to suffer and if we do, for it to be over quickly and for there to be no residue. However, the reality is that suffering is not really like that. When we suffer deeply it changes us and we may carry the wounds in ourselves for life.
I think also of some of the people I have accompanied over the years, people who have been through traumatic experiences. I know that there is very little I can do to help them, other than to be there, to sit with them, to listen to them. I do, however, find that if they are able to take their pain, their trauma to the person of Jesus, if they are able to be open enough to meditate on his suffering and death, then something often shifts. His love, his knowledge of pain, his redeeming presence, will be at work in them and in their distress he consoles. Not that they are “magically” healed, but when we turn in our pain to God, he never abandons us, he is with us. It is in sharing our experience of pain that something shifts, that we might feel consoled, or a new sense of hope may emerge. In looking on Jesus’ vulnerability in his pain, my own ability to be vulnerable, to let him draw near, is deepened.