I lead a Bible Study at the church on Thursday mornings. It is more of a fellowship group than a Bible Study although we do sometimes talk some serious stuff. The average age of the group members is about 75!
When I took over the group about 18 months ago everyone warned me - these people don't talk, ever. You have to do it all. That was a challenge to me! Now they talk plenty. One old man, between 85 and 90, has particularly relished the opportunity to share about himself. He had a very painful childhood, although he sees it in a wonderfully positive perspective. Yesterday, when asked about brothers and sisters, he shyly muttered that 'one bastard was enough'.
In those days 80-odd years ago an illegitimate child was a big embarrassment and this poor man had to take the pain and the shame. And it is great that he is able to be freed from it and open up to people in the church about it.
My automatic reaction is how could the church have caused so much pain in the past? But because that is such a 'politically correct' reaction I question it again. Since when have we made the pursuit of a pain-free existence supreme? Why do we say pain is wrong?
We are in danger of making peace of mind and contentment God. If Jesus had pursued a pain-free life we would never have had the cross. If he asked us to pursue a pain-free existence we would never have sacrificial living. Of course, that is different from causing pain to others.