Some time ago I posted here an article about the romanticizing of pain. It's a theme that wends its way back every now and then, and is pricking me this morning.
A nasty struggle goes on in this old brain as I contemplate spending a summer in Korea this year. There's a voice of some sort, I won't call it the Lord, as so many rush to do. Perhaps conscience. Perhaps common sense. But maybe the Lord is speaking too...
"So," the voice says, and I loosely translate the impressions I receive, "you really think you have something to offer these Koreans!"
"Yes, sir, I have felt their pain so strongly, that I must do something."
"Felt their pain, you say? Felt their pain? You?! Exactly what pain have you felt?"
"You know, the pain of their suffering and their rejection. I feel it in my gut!"
"Oh you do, do you? I'm wondering just which part of their suffering you feel. Is it the hunger? Do you fast often, or have you been unable to afford food, or have you been on a low-vitamin diet so long that you are developing a sickness of some sort? That kind of pain?"
"Well, uh, actually I eat quite well. I do skip a meal now and then to keep my weight in line. I've even been known to fast and pray, but not too often, really..."
"Then perhaps you have lost your job? The economy even here is sinking, and you've joined the thousands who are now unemployed? That would surely help you feel the pain!"
"Hmmm, no, my job still seems to be intact. The education sector has not been affected as yet. Not so much as missed a paycheck, and there's even a bonus now and then. No, it's not that."
"You've been in jail, then? A political prisoner, arrested because of your involvement with Jesus, locked up away from your family, with a few beatings thrown in?"
"No, the only times I went to jail I was just visiting. Never been seriously persecuted for my faith."
"Then what kind of pain can you possibly be speaking of? You're not talking about the bravado the disciples displayed when they vowed they would die for Jesus? You're not talking about the tears you shed when you saw that NK video? Call it any number of things, but don't call it pain! How dare you compare your sniveling to the North Koreans' prison sentences and say that you now know their pain!"
"Uh, well, I , I guess I..."
And this smothering exchange of comments keeps reminding me of how fully and totally inadequate is any external preparation for such a visit as this. Through the months I have asked God for His preparation, though, and some things that have surfaced are promising. Since my decision to go, I have had to face nights - long nights - of personal fears and doubts. I have had major and minor procedures done on my body, where - in my imagining way - I despaired of life. I have been a victim of ineffective drugs. Attacks have assailed me at my work place. And more...
When we lay our comfortable little lives at the foot of the cross and say, "Show me the rest of the story,let me feel, not just romantic "pain," but the pain You felt on the cross, and what You want me to feel on my own cross, and the real pain of your people, so I can relate..., " things begin to happen. Life unravels, a bit at a time, and our sham hypocrisies are exposed. Even we realize who we are after a while, and cry out with Isaiah our unworthiness, "I am a man of unclean lips..." Only then are we fit for this service.
It may start with tears, but it ends with the real thing. And on the way, there will be constant re-calculating of the cost, many chances to say, "Hey, I just can't afford this. I never knew..."
The apostles, filled later with the Holy Ghost, decided the cost wasn't that high after all, and are in bliss with Jesus as I write. May we be able to see what they saw, and decide what they decided.
Hey, romance is OK at the beginning of a relationship. That's the natural order. We "fall" in love. But eventually there is the rising back up again, to commitment, marriage, hardship. Are we ready to be wedded to His cross? Is He worth it? Is His suffering Body worth it? Is the lost world worth it?
Look for Bob Faulkner's home page on http://sermonaudio.com. There you will find a combination of love for the Scriptures and a desire for North Korean believers to have their needs met. There are nearly 300 blogs , over 200 Bible teaching MP3's, lists of resources, NK picture albums, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together! Contact me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Would love to fellowship with believers who respond .