Well, Tuesday night was the firts night for pain at Elements. It was a special night, designed so that students would face their pain, name their pain and hopefully see God's hope in spite of the pain. I think it was a great time together.
We started off with the lights completely off and the chairs separated from each other.
In the dark we talked about the similarity between darkness and pain.
In the lament Psalm 88, the last verse says, "the darkness is my only friend". The last word in Hebrew is "darkness".
The Jewish conception of pain and darkness is that God is not absent during those times, but that he will do something with those times.
Gen. 1:1 says "darkness covered the deep". God created out of the darkness.
So God desires to create out of the darkness of our own lives.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, "You were once darkness, but now you are light..." So we have the choice to live in the darkness of our pain, or start moving toward the light.
As Christians we don't try to avoid the pain. We name the pain and find God beside us in it. And in that we choose whether or not we will be bitter or better (to borrow a Rob Bell phrase).
This isn't necessarily a fast process. It takes time.
As I spoke about the light, I lit candles for every aspect of light I could think of (comfort, joy, peace, understanding, lack of bitterness).
Then we played David Crowder's "Come Awake" as an invitation to examine our own pain.
After the song, they could use the candles under their chairs and come to the candles as a symbol of accepting light into their darkness.
Then they could write their own lament Psalms or talk with an adult.
It was a quality experience for many of our students and I'm glad I was able to be a part of it.
It is my prayer that our students will continue to wade through their pain and find God right there beside them in all of it.