BrianJames McMahon
BrianJames McMahon

A pastor recently asked me: “Has the pain and suffering of 2020 always been here, but I have been blind to it, or is it unique to 2020?”

I recalled with her my surprise returning from the mission field in 2004 to discover just how well Americans, specifically the American church, had isolated ourselves from the suffering of the world and insulated ourselves from our own pain. Perhaps more than anything, 2020 served as an unveiling of the disconnection, anger and suffering that has been present in our own communities all along.

Our theology orients around the Incarnation. According to John 1:14, “the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His glory” (NRSV). Jesus entered into, walked among and transformed from within the suffering of the world. This is challenging for me, and, I think, for us.

I prefer helping others out of suffering rather than enter their suffering. I prefer examining external suffering rather than my own. Yet my capacity to hold others’ pain directly correlates to my capacity to see my own. And my capacity to enter into the pain of others is the very embodiment of the Incarnation that our world desperately needs today.

Prayer + Reflection

  1. Pray and invite the Holy Spirit to give us eyes to see the pain that we each carry ourselves more clearly so that we would not be inhibited from bringing the presence of God into the pain of others by our inability to invite the presence of God into our own.
  2. Pray that God would open our eyes even more fully to see clearly the suffering that is all around us, and that He would give us courage not to stand apart from it offering love, but to bring the love of God into the very midst of the pain and suffering.
  3. Pray for strength and courage for our ministry leaders, mentors, therapists and disciple-makers, who every day enter into the suffering of others as the hands and feet of Jesus.
  4. As we pray that our own eyes would be opened, we also pray that we would we practice unity and stand as one, praying for the nation of Mynamar and our Foursquare family of missionaries there.

Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.

is a licensed marriage and family therapist at ReCenter in Kansas City, Mo.

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