Some years ago I was woken in the night with a pain that got worse and worse. So bad was this pain that I was taken into hospital. For 5 hours doctor after doctor worked on diagnosing the problem. Test after test was administered to measure a million levels of indicators.
Finally they all agreed on the cause and I was moved from the diagnosis area to the pain relief area. By this time the pain was so bad I could hardly breathe and I was groaning and growling, begging for it to stop.
A line was put into my arm and what looked like a massive syringe was connected. The nurse asked me to tell her when the pain had stopped. She emptied the syringe of morphine. It did not stop. She refilled it and emptied it again – it sill did not stop. Half way through the third syringe the pain dissolved and I could breathe. The relief was immense. The contrast was so huge that I appreciated the painless state of now far more than the painless state I had before the pain began. It was a joy and a high rolled into one.
Ultrasound confirmed the diagnosis of a small stone stuck in the duct from my gall bladder. They removed my gall bladder later that Sunday.
As I recovered 2 days later, a woman spoke to me and said what no man would dare to say. She said she had had a baby and she had had a gallstone – the gall stone was more painful ! “It just won’t stop” she explained.
I have been present at a birth and I’m not totally convinced, but it’s the closest I’ve ever been to experiencing the pain of childbirth.
One thing we do all share, however, is a joy when pain ceases. In my case the next step was the removal of an organ. For women the next step is the holding of a baby. The joy is so overwhelming that the pain is forgotten and replaced with pure exhilaration. It’s a high that is impossible to explain.
The Christmas child brings with Him pain relief and a transforming joy. Everyone carries within them a fear of death. It could be a suppressed fear or a full blown terror but whatever your view death remains the last frontier.
Yet the Christmas birth really does take the sting from death. The Christmas Child has arrived to save us – ironically through His own death – and replace that fear with a deep joy.
The pain of anger, meaninglessness, abuse and injustice and war can be so great that it looks like and feels like it will not stop. But pain relief arrives at Christmas. Profound joy is released to even the most tortured of souls and broken of minds.
Any follower of Christ knows that life has not become trouble free. Many troubles increase as you follow in the footsteps of Christmas.
But God will, one day, make it stop. This baby will bring joy. The contrast will be so great that your high will literally reach the highest. It is not always an instant fix, but eventually this spirit of God empties the love of God into your pain and it does dissolve.
As life with this Son of the most high carries on, you come to realize that pain and joy are mystically connected. In fact, you can consider pain as joy as you see how it transforms you. Christmas means that eternity has arrived. The pains of now are soothed. The pains of yesterday are addressed. Hope lifts your eyes to the horizon where this life ends and a new one begins, then your joy will be complete – and all the more so as it contrasts with your pain.
Such is Christmas
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
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