When Pain is Perfect

A storm of brokenness battered the United States this week. A presidential candidate performed illegal activity as a public servant. Federal officials recommended the candidate walk free. Days later a string of shootings forced communities to the streets, clenching collars of shirts to wipe tears in front of hundreds of cameras. The lights from the cameras transport watery eyes from dark lit streets to kleenex clutching viewers in dark living rooms. High-definition television sets turn from glamorous to black boxes that disseminate sorrow in times like these. This is not perfect.

The root of the word perfect carries something important for us today. History strings the word through a series of changes as perfect moved from Latin, to French, and eventually into the English vocabulary. The latin word, perfectus, is defined as something being accomplished or complete. The word casts a retrospective present. It connects a past happening with the present time. It defines an event, either continuing to the present or having consequences in the present, as complete. For people following Jesus, the pain in the world is not perfect because it is not the end.

The pain in the world is imperfect because Christian's see design and purpose before brokenness. Thumbing past the table of contents in the Bible takes a few swipes of paper to move from a listing of the 66 books to the opening chapter of God's revelation to man. In Genesis, readers find that God purposed the entire universe. He organized, separated, and created the galaxies, planets, and continents according to His character. After making animals, God made man in His image. He made woman in a specified action to reflect His character. It is not good for man to be alone because man is made in God's image, and God is not alone. So God made humankind to reflect his image and have an intimate relationship with him. Man is created for more than peace. Man is created to have intimacy with God.

Cries for justice ring hollow in a world without God. In a godless world the universe began with an impersonal bang that started a series of random accidents that formed humankind. Through trial and error society emerged, according to a godless perspective, and humankind continues to seek value, order, and justice by trial and error. With this line of thinking, wearing a swastika arm band or finding identity in a hammer and sickle tattoo could have been right. In a godless world might makes right. Slavery could have been ok because, in a godless world, disorder is the norm. There is no organizing force in a godless world to show humankind what is good, true, or right. Perfect is a resolution of the present from the past. Suffering is perfect in a godless world. Pain is normal.

It is a cry for God when televisions flash images of crowds standing in streets holding signs that silently shout for justice. When young men with more melanin in their skin are treated differently than others, and there is an outcry from culture for equality, and that outcry is a yearning for a God-filled perspective. The light seems brightest in the darkest times.

Christians we can sometimes thumb-swipe past this pain. We know the resolution. To us the light isn't shining any brighter than it was yesterday. Our path to church is purposeful. Our Bible pages bear fingerprint-stained margins. We see the light. We follow the light. To us it isn't brighter.

Students need a Christian education. The lacerations of the culture are not healed in a godless world. Bleeding is normal. Without design students are caught in a vortex of trial and error where the weak and marginalized are fodder for progress. 

With a Christian perspective students are equipped to engage brokenness with a perfect resolve. Knowing the design of man, the purpose of marriage, the feeling of hope that comes in having children, the structure of government, and the purpose of pain are abstract thoughts that get fleshed out with a Biblical perspective. A godless world gropes in the dark. 

So pain is not perfect, unless you hold to evolution. Pain forges evolution to try new things. But a Christian perspective resolves pain with Jesus Christ. The Christian student taught in a Biblically-based Christ-centered environment, has a light instilled in their heart. They see the world as God intended it and begin to understand how Math, Science, History, Language, Athletics, and everything done in school trains them to know God and illuminate God's character and design by creating and declaring things true based on the character of God. With this, the Christian student is forged to walk the streets with their light to show the way to make pain completely perfect. This is how pain is made perfect, by looking first to Jesus Christ.

Wayne StenderComment