As we live our lives, it’s impossible to ignore that life can be painful. Pain and challenge are so much a part of life that great literature has been written about them. For example, there is Shakespeare’s “To be, or not to be speech,” in which he writes of “this mortal coil,” by which he means the “troubles of daily life and the strife and struggles of the world.”1 We suffer ourselves, and we witness other people suffer, and it is impossible not to admit that life can hurt. Even though we know that life can hurt, we have just celebrated Easter and acknowledged that, in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God has healed the rift between God and humans and has established His kingdom on Earth. Nothing in life or death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, and the kingdom of God is present and unfolding here on Earth. Yes, life on earth is often painful AND, AT THE SAME TIME, God and His kingdom are present. We live in the tension that is created by our experience of these two things: Life hurts AND God is here.
Anne Lamott addresses this tension in her book, Traveling Mercies. She writes, “Broken things have been on my mind lately because so much has broken in my life this year and in the lives of the people I love . . .”. In other words, life hurts. Anne then tells us that her pastor, Veronica, said that “this is life’s nature . . . lives and hearts get broken.” As a matter of fact, “the world sometimes feels like the waiting room of the emergency ward. . . .” But then Anne gives us the message of Easter: “ . . . we who are more or less okay for now need to take the tenderest possible care of the more wounded people in the waiting room, until the healer comes. [We] sit with people . . . and [we] bring them juice and graham crackers.” In other words, God and His kingdom are here, present in the tender care we give to those who are wounded and hurting, until God and His kingdom can be present, completely, themselves.