August 13, 2012

The Grace of Pain

Posted in Faith, Lent, Sanctification, Suffering at 9:14 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

Seeking to sever pain from grace
I struggled to secure a place
Without the pain I’ve known so long,
Which often scourges cruelly strong.

But stronger still God’s grace shone through
To fortify my life anew.
For through the blood of His dear Son,
The battle is already won.

He does not take the pain away
But gives me grace meet for each day.
Yet, even more, the pain is grace,
Imploring me to seek His face.

So when the pain envelops me,
I quickly to His bosom flee
To plead the blood of Christ the Lamb,
And He enfolds me as I am.

Then through His mercy He amends
My life so I will follow Him.
In choosing Grace my heart will soar
To Heaven’s throne through Christ the Door.

Copyright © 2012 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

Suffering. How we long to avoid it! But how necessary it is for our spiritual growth. Look at Joseph, Moses, David, and any of the prophets, but primarily Jeremiah. Look at St. Paul, who was haunted by an affliction that he termed “a thorn in the flesh.” Whatever it was, he entreated God to remove it, to take away his suffering. Yet God refused:

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:8-10)

Was St. Paul a masochist, serving a cruel God whose only goal is to flex His muscles at the expense of vulnerable humans? If we count this life only, then that might be a reasonable conclusion, and we would want no part of such a God. But as St. Paul had observed earlier in his second letter to the Christians at Corinth, all of those events that seem to be chipping away at our “outward man” are actually renewing the “inward man” day by day. Our afflictions are light, in comparison to those of our Savior, and they are light in comparison to their effect, for they work in us “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Corinthians 4:16-17). The pain IS grace.

Just one wordsmithing note: I chose the word enfold at the end of the fourth verse because I had just mentioned Christ the Shepherd-Lamb, who brings us to His fold. But there is also more. The word itself means “to cover with or as if with folds,” and it reminds me of how Boaz covered Ruth with his garment. Another meaning is “to hold within limits; enclose,” which reminds me not only of a sheepfold but also that He holds us within the loving limits of the paths of righteousness. Finally, the word means “to embrace,” which reminds me that we are His beloved. Could you possibly imagine that one word’s suitcase had so much meaning and connotation packed in it?

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything, partly because I’ve been busy, but mostly because I have been under the weather for several weeks. For a while I was really frustrated over this situation, as I’ve not had enough mental energy to write poetry or enough physical energy to participate in some of the ministries I’ve been a part of in the past; I haven’t even done a very good job of taking care of the basics at home. But after a crisis situation sent me to the emergency room a couple of weeks ago, I’ve slowly begun to feel better. This post is not a new piece at all, but it is a major revision to a poem I wrote in 2003. Judging by my numerous revisions of this poem (February 16, 2005, July, 1, 2007, September 6, 2007, September 22, 2007, February 7, 2008), without being willing to share it with anyone, it is obvious that I’ve been struggling with these concepts for almost ten years. Until tonight, I was unable to put the whole thought together. The third verse, which is new, is the lynchpin of this poem, and apparently expresses that which was most difficult for me to grasp. May God grant me the grace to keep learning this lesson.


  1. […] ago a poem was written on a blog that I read that really impacted me. I want to share it with you: The Grace of Pain. It is beauty and truth. You should read it. The line that has stuck with me the most – […]


  2. Dss Teresa said,

    Thank you, my father in Christ.


  3. Outstanding, as usual. Great gift you have.


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