Introduction – And Jesus Wept

And Jesus Wept A Pastor’s Look at Pain By Pastor K. David Oldfield Copyright 2001 by CBM Publications 100 West 12th Street Post Falls, ID 83854 Introduction Why is it that modern life has such a numbing effect on people? Ask the average person what he did on Saturday, two weeks ago, and chances are he won’t be able to tell you. Obviously, most of us pass our days in a daze. We don’t “smell the flowers” or see the kitten’s whiskers. And although we sometimes feel the winds of Autumn only because it slaps us in the face, we don’t enjoy the changing color of the leaves, the geese in their formations flying south or our pet’s fur growing thicker. We have filled our lives with so many responsibilities and selfish pleasures that much of what goes on all around us is only mentally processed and then neatly filed away – computer-like. Rarely is it truly experienced and enjoyed. Most people require a sudden jolt of some kind to make them stop, open up their senses, and really pay attention to life. This is true of people in every strata of society. Sometimes the jolt needed to get us out of our lethargy is the literal shock of some kind of “pain,” either in ourselves or in someone close to us. These articles have been prepared for two kinds of people: those who are in the midst of that kind of shock, and for those who will soon join them. The statisticians tell us: we’ve either been in a recent car accident, or we’re going to be in...

Chapter One – The Perplexity of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield Boy, am I Konfused If it wasn’t for the great mysteries of life this would be a very dull universe. It is mystery that keeps the astronomer probing the sky for black holes, quasars and pulsars. Mystery pushes the biochemist deeper into the complexity of the living cell. Mystery dictates that man should look more and more deeply into the minuteness of the atom. A mystery is something that we can’t quite explain but neither can we deny. It doesn’t disturb us that we don’t know the answer to every question; rather this fascinates us. We are like kittens venturing out for the first time, learning things to which our imaginations have only recently hinted. The wind once carried a fascinating touch of garden scent. A new, exciting insect found its way under the door and told us another world. Often we have wondered where our masters have been going while we were forced to stayed inside. Now, at last, we are out-at the cutting edge of wonder. The sun hurts our eyes. The wind whips the hair on our necks, and our hearts race with excitement. Mystery makes us yearn and hopefully learn. As Bible believers, we are not surprised that there is mystery in our favorite Book. Were there no mysteries in the Bible we should be forced to doubt that it proceeded from the same Mind that created Orion and the atom. That we haven’t found all the answers reminds us of our nothingness and God’s greatness. It makes us humble but thirsty. Oh, that we might...

Chapter Two – The Prediction of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield Thus Saith the Lord The first direct reference to pain in the Bible, as well as the first in human history, is found in the form of a prediction. The book of beginnings, Genesis, which lays the corner-stone for the study of every major Bible doctrine, introduces us to suffering. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return… Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming...

Chapter Three – The Producer of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield Labor Versus Management It was a hot Canadian afternoon at Shouldice Park on the banks of the Bow River. My sister and I were permitted to wade along the edge of the river. Off came the shoes followed by the socks. Up rolled the pant legs, or at least moderate effort was made towards that end. As I gingerly stepped between the larger rocks and grew accustomed to the very cold mountain river, a hot, searing pain suddenly shot up my leg. I froze in the water, screaming for rescue and relief. Relief came only under the medical care of my father and the comfort of my mother. Seven-year-olds don’t dauntlessly seek for causes and effects. Simple explanations usually satisfy:  “It looks like you stepped on a broken bottle, son.” I was pacified, but still in pain. Seven-year-olds don’t remain seven very long. What caused that nearly forgotten pain over forty years ago? Well, it was the breaking open of the tough epidermis and then the tender corium on the bottom of my foot and the introduction of foreign material into a usually closed and protected environment. Or, we might say that my pain could be blamed upon the careless or stupid people who threw their garbage into the river rather than into the trash barrel down by the road. My parents, in a sense, caused my pain by letting me wade in a dangerous river without due care and caution. I caused my own pain by placing my foot down on the glass; but, then, young boys can’t be...

Chapter Four – The Peril of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield Clear and Present Danger This Autumn story is a familiar one in the Western mountains: The scarlet-clad hunter found some fresh deer tracks in the snow and began to follow them, hoping for the first kill of the new season. Minutes turned into hours, and with each excited step he got farther and farther from his companions. Then, as the sunlight began to fail, he came to his senses and realized that he was lost. Every tree looked the same to his bleary eyes; every rocky outcrop appeared to have the same shape. The pain of his anxiety grew at twice the rate of the aching in his legs and lungs. He tried to call his friends, but there was no reply. He fired his rifle into the air, and still no reply. His response to the dilemma? Panic! Don’t panic Having learned that the pain that we find in this world comes either directly from the Lord, or through His unused veto powers as the Sovereign God, the heart of the sufferer is sometimes opened up to the sharpest sting of all: the hatred of God. The greatest peril of pain is the temptation to raise a clenched fist toward Heaven. The Israelites often panicked in their pain: “Because the LORD hated us, he that brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us” (Deut. 1:27). Because the Lord can’t help me, He has left me here to die! Because the Lord won’t heal me, I will...

Chapter Five – The Praise of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield To God be the Glory The Being that we call “God” is made up of many attributes and characteristics. For example, Jehovah can be said to be omnipresent and omniscient, which mean that He always knows the name and face of every sufferer. He even knows and, in a sense, feels every ache, sting and sorrow. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do…. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:13, 15). Our God is also eternal and thus lives beyond both the “day” before there was pain-inducing sin and beyond the “eternity” when pain will be no more. God is righteous and just, requiring pain for the punishment of sin, and yet recompensing the sufferer when it is due. “So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning…” (Job 42:12). The Lord is holy, immutable, self-existent, omnipotent and a number of other things, all of which play a role in the question of sorrow and suffering. If logic has a part to play in the Christian faith, and of course it does, then God’s special love must also enter the study of pain, because along with His other attributes, love abides there as well. God’s justice in sending painful punishment must at some point intersect His love. This...

Chapter Six – The Partnership of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield And They Twain Shall be One Flesh This is a world of interwoven relationships. For example, mankind cannot be separated from his environment, such as, from the things that he eats. Then too, as much as we try, we can’t very well be isolated from other individuals, and certainly we can’t be severed from the Lord and live. Indeed, “…none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Rom. 14:7). Not only are we interwoven with the Lord, nature and other people, but with certain principles as well. The Lord has established many laws that simply can’t be broken without suffering the consequences. Take for example the law of sowing and reaping: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:7-9). If an obese man wants to lose 100 pounds, he MUST cut down his food consumption; it is an established principle that too many calories mean excess body weight. And if a fair skinned person wants to keep from a sunburn, he must protect himself in some way. The law of sowing and reaping will not be broken. As we have said before, pain is closely related to sin. Although we can’t say that every sufferer must be hiding...

Chapter Seven – The Perversion of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield Twisted Sister Children have special tools for coping with the problems of their surprisingly complex worlds. For example, a child lacking the ability to make friends easily may become a show-off or a bully in order to compensate. Another with the same problem may take a different route and create imaginary friends or live in a dream world. Another example are children with vision problems, convincing themselves that everyone sees the same way that they do. Little ones have all kinds of tricks that they use. Perhaps the average child’s favorite problem-solving technique can be called simply “denial.” How many childhood toothaches have disappeared at the mention of the dentist? Why is it that healing is sometimes instantaneous when some enjoyable diversion is planned? Often these childish troubleshooting methods creep into the world of adults. But there they quickly stop being cute. Have you ever seen the foolish man drowning his problems in a liquor bottle or in drugs? It’s not a pretty sight! A man’s perennial, troublesome pain, often gets the same treatment as a child’s – denial. Some people deny pain’s origination, others its operation and yet others deny its culmination, but it is all still basically the same old childish denial. Some Deny Pain’s Existence When people reject obvious truths anything can happen. Perhaps we don’t like the idea that 2+2 = 4. The reason really doesn’t matter. It may be a math teacher that we don’t like: “I refuse to believe her!” Perhaps we feel that the equation is too antiquated for the modern world. Whatever!...

Chapter Eight – The Purpose and Plan of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield One Plus One is Two; Two Plus Two is Four Perhaps it is not the greatest or most important question ever asked, but the certainly the toughest is the one screamed from the sick bed or mortuary chapel: “Why? Why, Lord, has this tragedy been permitted to enter MY life?” This question is easy to ask but impossible to answer with any real certainty. Often it flows off people’s lips without them thinking or even waiting for an answer. The fact is that there can be no single and final answer given by anyone but the Lord. We can’t run all the information about a particular case into a magic computer and have it spit out a precise analysis, answer or solution. There are no special Bible concordances that lead us to a verse which exactly fits our life and our hurt. Assuming the Lord’s sovereignty over pain, there could be many things that it might accomplish in a person’s life. There could be a single objective or a large number of them. The best that any godly pastor can do to help a sufferer is to point to some POSSIBLE explanations and then try to take him beyond the “Why” to the “What now,” which is far more important. What might be God’s intention in permitting you to suffer? To Allow the Lord to Work Jehovah, in infinite wisdom, has sometimes made suffering His tool of choice. The dentist could use a variety of devices and techniques from hammer and chisel to acid or silly putty, but thankfully he...

Chapter Nine – The Perfection of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield A Perfect Ten I must assume that most of us have never been criminals, so we can’t speak with authority in this area, but it’s reasonable to assume that even thieves want to be the very best that they can be. They certainly don’t wish to be failures, and most would like to be a part of “the perfect” crime. What that perfect crime may be depends entirely on someone’s point of view. To the criminal, it presumably would involve the biggest “take”, the least effort, and perhaps the greatest thrill. So in a sense there never will be the “perfect”, the superlative crime, for there will always be a bigger take, less effort, and greater risks. Inflation will demand it, if nothing more. On the other hand, to the victim a “perfect crime” would have to be no crime at all. This must be the mind of the Lord as well. Like crime, can we debate whether there is such a thing as “perfect pain.” Most people would definitely say it can’t exist; the two terms “perfect” and “pain” are mutually exclusive. Perhaps so, but the “perfection of pain” is a possibility. “Perfection” in the Bible The preacher was really on fire that evening, preaching about sin and sanctification. “Have you ever met or heard of a perfect man?” he shouted. There was no response. When he repeated his question, one timid hand was raised, and the preacher demanded an explanation. “Actually,” said a meek, little, middle-aged man, “I’ve never met him, but I’ve often been told of the...

Chapter Ten – The Palliating of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield Bridge Over Troubled Waters Whether or not any of the other questions about pain have been answered, every sufferer wonders about how to relieve, or palliate, his pain. Thus, the treatment of pain is a growing and respected medical science these days. Since the mid-1960’s multitudes of “Pain Clinics” with resident Dolorologists (pain-specialists) have arisen across America. With specialization in the area of pain research the questions are growing: Should I see a Myotherapist to treat my muscular pain? My uncle was helped by a Chiropractor, but would he be able to help me? There is talk about Acupuncture these days, but is this really scientific? How about Acupressure? Can I raise my pain threshold through mind-control? Should I try more drugs? What about surgery? Some people are turning to Eastern mysticism for relief, should I leave my Christian heritage? A woman down at work has gone into the occult and gotten relief from her pain. Aunt Betty has been reading about shamanism and certain psychic phenomenon that have helped people. Where should I go? Would (hee, hee) a lobotomy be the answer? Obviously a great many suffering people, down through the ages have turned to “religion” for solutions to their pain. Despite a few outspoken and growing cults, all of the major religions of the world began in days before there were any really effective medical treatments for pain. In fact the majority of those religions have had suffering at their very hearts from the outset. Elsewhere we spoke of Siddhartha Guatama and the beginning of Buddhism. Didn’t Judaism...

Chapter Eleven – The Pastoring of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield A Little Child Shall Lead Them Napoleon Bonaparte was at his greatest when leading his armies to victory: at Toulon, at Lodi, at Castiglione and many other places. He was not a great success in his own home, in politics, or in diplomacy, but at war he was among the best. Like him, the average pastor enjoys his work best in the pulpit, at war with the forces of Satan. It is there that some of the greatest victories in Christian history have been won, and in more recent history, where great territory has been lost. It is in the pulpit that the pastor reproves, rebukes and exhorts the souls that God has given him to lead. There he challenges his people for Christ and often sees them respond. As the Lord blesses the pastor and his work, he may even see people transform before his eyes; they sometimes change from timid sheep to valiant soldiers for Christ ready to take up the banner of Christ and storm the gates of Hell. The good pastor loves that ministry and to raise the trumpet of ram’s horn to his lips in a call to arms: “Who is on the Lord’s side let him come unto me! It is time now to earnestly contend for the faith!” The pulpit is often a place of exhilarating glory. Yes, pastors love this part of the ministry, but few enjoy mending and setting the arms of their friends, broken and bleeding after combat. But this is a part, a vital part, of the pastor’s responsibility...

Chapter Twelve – The Preparation for Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield Agony 101 Pain was a way of life to the nation of Israel, as it may be with you. At times it just came naturally during their journeys in the wilderness, and then at other times, Israel dared God, through their presumptuous sins, to call His fiery serpents from their dens. The days of the Judges just scream with pain. The tears of Israel flowed like rivers during the days of Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah and the fall of Jerusalem. And unfortunately it is not over, for soon the days of Jacob’s Trouble will begin (Jere. 30:4-7). The problems and pains of Israel are a typological picture of our individual problems and pains. So permit me to use one man in Israel as an illustration of our next thought: Preparing for Pain. The youngest son of Jesse, as many young people do, felt small stings and hurts throughout his life, but then a day came when he faced the Goliath of major pain; a real “Excedrin headache” (I Sam. 17). You likely know the history of David and his victory that day. It came about because he faced the problem squarely. He told several people, including the king, that he knew that he could defeat Goliath, because he had other smaller victories already under his belt. He was prepared. Our primary concern in this entire study, lies right here at this point. Everything that we have said thus far has, at its heart, the purpose of preparing you to face Goliath. For example, thinking of the last chapter, the ability of...

Chapter Thirteen – The Parting of Pain

From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield Somewhere Over the Rainbow Using your imagination, let us pretend that as a child you never learned how to ride a bicycle, but now for medical reasons, you’ve determined to give it a try. It might prove to be embarrassing, learning to ride a bike at your age. Very small neighborhood children might stare as you foolishly swerve and weave in and out in the middle of a perfectly empty street. The older children might openly laugh. The local adults would peek at you from behind their curtains and talk about you behind closed doors, half-heartedly applauding you for your gumption, but not encouraging you or joining you in public. Your doctor and cycle salesman might suggest that you start with an inexpensive bike-with “training wheels” to keep you upright. After a few weeks of practice, and plenty of near misses, you probably would be able to lay the training wheels aside. In other words, one day, if you stick to it through the jokes and snickers, you would be able to sit proudly atop your expensive ten-speed or powerful mountain bike. The assurance of that “some day” could be just what you need to keep you going. Pain could be like training wheels on the bicycle of the neophyte. It could be an embarrassment that might make you give up and hibernate for the winter, or it could keep you from falling on your face and help you learn a new way of seeing the world. In addition to new sights and adventures in your life, there is one...