Kidney Stones and babies.

I’ve just had this realization that it all begins with trusting in God’s extraordinary love.

If we truly believe that God is love, that he possesses this tremendous love for us, then so many other things fall into place.

And if we can’t grasp hold of this great Truth then there are so many other things that we can’t possibly believe.

If God loves us then we can believe– we have no choice but to believe– that everything that happens to us will be redeemed; we believe that the pain, hurt, and betrayal that happen to us are not the final end.  We believe that they will be dwarfed by the destiny in store for us.   (Perhaps we even go so far as to believe that all things happen to us for a reason.)

The identical experiences– or even less painful ones– have an entirely different context if God’s love is a lie.  And this context means everything to us.

I have heard well-intentioned but knuckleheaded Christ followers say to people “Look, God didn’t owe you anything.  The mere fact of your existence is a bonus.”

But the thing that this misses is that if life is just a series of painful events, it is far from a bonus.  There are people who can say, in honesty, that they wish they’d never been born.  This is not so much because the actual pain they feel runs deeper than that of the Christ follower.  It is because there is no reason to think the pain is anything but gratitious.

For a Christian, pain is like child birth.  We have this awareness that there must be some amazing result (like a child) that the whole thing is worth.  As babies are born, people cry in joy.

For somebody who doesn’t know God’s love, pain is like passing a kidney stone.  A little rock that made it’s way through the urinary tract is not much worth the whole process.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

5 thoughts on “Kidney Stones and babies.”

  1. you said: “For somebody who doesn’t know God’s love, pain is like passing a kidney stone. A little rock that made it’s way through the urinary tract is not much worth the whole process.”
    I say: “Yes, true, perfectly said! But once that kidney stone is on it’s way, there is such a phenomenal sweetness when it’s finally all over with! Maybe I’m optomistic but I can usually find something good in everything!”


  2. Jeff Life is a gift. God choose not to destroy humans for the sins of Adam and Eve. And still after seeing that Mans heart was evil he preserved the human race again by saving the lives of Noah and his family. While I agree that this may be precious little comfort for those going through ____. The bible also says in Romans 1:20 ” For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” nlt. I think in the case of people passing their kidney stones they don’t see God because they have chosen not too.


  3. Wow! Thanks for the insightful responses, everybody.
    Nice to hear from you. I certainly (when I’m at my best) work at finding a bright spot in the pain… but I think if somebody thought they were passing a metophoric kidney stone, going to have a few days of health, and then thought they were going to have some other ailment, it’d be hard to see a bright spot– if we see life as a series of meaningless pains and tragedies, the lack of pain and tragedy, I think, just looks like a temporary calm before the next storm.

    Jenn- Glad to be of service.

    Hmmmm. I’ve pondered that piece of scripture a lot, the one about how we can see God’s qualities in His creation. I have this sort-of love/hate relationship with that verse.
    I was somebody who inferred the existence of a creator from the creation. I had some things right from these inferences. And I had some things wrong.
    I saw God’s incredible power, and even his wisdom. But I didn’t see his love. In fact,
    I can’t see how the world gives somebody a whole lot of evidence for God’s great love. This sentiment flies in the face of the most obvious read of the verses you quote. It leaves me with some wrestling to do about what it all means…

    The bottom line, I guess, for me is just this:
    As we witness to those who don’t know Christ, we ought to be aware that the lenses they view their pain through are quite different than the lenses we view our pain through.


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