On Pain and Loving God

Pain is never a joyful experience. It hurts, it forces us to feel more fiercely the world around us and the emotions that envelop our hearts.

It is a stormy sea into which a sailboat has been cast unwillingly. The boat is battered, beaten, bruised. It is wrecked on rocks and drowning beneath the waves, the winds, the rains. There is no way that this boat ought to survive.

Affliction is a pain that envelops the soul, it is invisible and painful beyond imagination. It is depression, anxiety, crippling fear. It is the mind turning against itself.

And you see, you can never fully express this pain with words because they never do it justice. Feelings and emotions can never be captured by mere language. Because when you try, it never sounds like pain but instead as beautiful music.

“What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music…. And people flock around the poet and say: ‘Sing again soon’ – that is, ‘May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.” -Søren Kierkegaard

Affliction murders language. When the shattered pieces of words try to reform, they create trite and pretty songs that do not convey pain but instead tickle the ear. We like beautiful things, but despise brokenness.

But this poetry is not true beauty. True beauty is the affliction Christ endured in the crucifixion. It is a tearing apart, it is completely shattered, to remake a truly magnificent and beautiful song because it…

“…echoes perpetually across the universe in the midst of the silence, like two notes, separate yet melting into one, like pure and heart-rending harmony. This is the Word of God. The whole creation is nothing but its vibration. When human music in its greatest purity pierces our soul, this is what we hear through it.” -Simone Weil

At our lowest, we see how broken the world is, how broken we are, how shattered we have become. But, we also see the glorious power and love of God in our pain.

There is no seeing just how beautiful something is until you realize just how ugly it is. There is no ability to grasp the meaning of beauty without knowing that the shattered pieces of brokenness are proof that affliction can try to destroy, but there will always be something that remains.

The sea of pain and affliction is beautiful because its depth is made insignificant by the love of God. A storm raging over it is nothing but a sprinkle in comparison to what Christ poured out on the cross.

We seek God through everything, because as St. Augustine said in Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find their rest in you.”


Inspired by “The Love of God and Affliction” by Simone Weil in Waiting for God

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