Pain Does Not Last Forever

Mar 05, 2017

by Dennis Hoffman, PCA Board of Directors

As he approached me in his orange prison jumpsuit with eyes filled in tears, it was quite obvious that we were about to engage in an emotional time together.  We had just finished an impacting worship service filled with praise songs, a powerful preaching of the Word of God and a communion time together.  Perhaps, it was the preacher’s message of both accountability and hope that had stirred this young man’s heart and spirit.  Perhaps, it was the sense of the unknown lying before him as he was being “processed” for his longer term stay in the South Dakota correctional system.  Perhaps….

We have heard words such as these many times, but they never cease to drive into our human core of love and concern.  “I know I really messed up and deserve paying this price, but my family is also paying the price.  Today is my daughter’s five year birthday.  And, I am in prison.” 

We have learned that there is not much to say directly to his pain.  We have learned to wait to let more words pour forth, and we have learned to offer prayer when the time seems right.

Prayer has the power to bring us together in mindful acceptance of our present moment together in the presence of God.  We surrender to and confess how we both are of sinful nature.  In the face of this confession, we are thankful for a saving grace that separates and detaches our persons as Children of God from our mistakes and transgressions.  And we pray in hope for not only our futures but the needs and dreams of all we hold close.  (Yes, this is an adaptation of the ACTS form of Christian prayer!)

Sometimes, when it appears appropriate and helpful, I will offer the below poem adapted from Rabbi Harold Kushner’s thoughts in his lovingly crafted book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

                    Pain does not last forever.

                    So grit your teeth and let it hurt.

                    Do not deny it.  Do not be overwhelmed by it.

                    Pain does not last forever.

                    Someday it will be gone.

                    And you, by God’s grace, will still be standing there.

After prayer, we have a time for fellowship and a connecting on the common ground of family, friends, homes, vocations and so forth.  What we find, in spite of sometimes a generation or two of age separation, is that we are much more alike than not.  We are two men standing in the middle of a prison, acknowledging both the pain and wonderment of our lives.  More importantly, we are two men of faith.

We are part of a faith community.



Category: Witness

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