Relieved // Playing Catch-Up (37-38/365)

There’s this friend I met while working in a call center. He joined me as we had our Saturday morning men’s fellowship meetings, and he even tagged along as we all went to the beach. We were both into photography, and so he had just as much fun as I did as we tried shooting the best we could at dawn, pushing the sensor of the Nikon D80 to its limits.

Two things I won’t forget about him were… well, scams. He gets with me and says that there’s someone he knows who was selling a Nikon D7000 – at the time, one of my target cameras to buy – for really cheap. Long story short, it turned out to be a scam. Sadly, I only found out after I made the shady bank deposit. I remember that was my birthday, too.

Now I couldn’t remember how he responded at the time, I’m pretty sure he was apologetic, but I do remember just feeling pretty bad – like I’ve been robbed and embarrassed, affected enough so there was still a tinge of it even when I was saying I forgive these people, and I forgave my friend. I could talk more about it but that’s pretty much all I remember now.

So we keep living our lives, and what he would do is he would borrow my D80 every now and then, to shoot at family events and stuff like that. But there was this one time he borrowed the camera – lens, flash, and all – and when I would ask for the camera back, he would tell me that he dropped the camera and had the whole thing repaired. The frequency of my follow-ups would increase to the point that I thought I’d ask him where the D80 was being repaired, only to be led to a shady stall in town that I found out wasn’t open for weeks now.

At the time I was just pretty frustrated with him. As you can probably tell there were a lot of reasons why I couldn’t believe his story. Part of it was my fault, I admit. Actually, at the time I thought a lot of it was my fault because I trusted this guy too much.

I do remember at least one time when we talked, and I do remember explicitly telling him that I forgave him for all he did. At this time I’ve had other rough patches, and I believe I said something in the lines of forgiving him, just because I know God forgave me, or something to that effect. He was telling me he wanted to pay me back and all that but (1) I didn’t buy it, and (2) it didn’t really mean much to me at the time anyway.

There was another time he suddenly called me, and I found out he was just in the neighborhood, having car trouble. Turns out his car was out of gas, and I don’t know, he needed me to drive it to his house because he was still having trouble handling it.

This morning I find out he passed away.

Now I was supposed to start these words by saying that up front, but I guess I wanted to do a build-up first. I find it sad – for all his schemes, the fact of the matter is he was married with at least 2 children, and he was certainly going through his own relational and financial issues.

I’d like to believe that I was able to express some forgiveness to him – maybe I said something to the point that I couldn’t trust him as much, but I would think that JB back then would have at least forgave him, and maybe even said we’d still be friends.

It’s unfortunate, Ron. But I pray you found Peace before drifting into eternity.

My apologies, as well. I was supposed to be writing, and truth be told I was losing my motivation in doing so. 2 days ago I started writing on something which was going to touch on the political, but, well, it turns out that it could have come out well, without me having to deconstruct it to a point that I was stretching it to be an article on its own.

And thoughts that couldn’t be that flexible probably should spend more time in the inner chambers of the mind, instead of for all the world to see.

Yesterday, my head ached. It was probably because of the weather or a combination of other factors but it took me down, to a point that I shamefully slacked for most of the day. By the way, this time I knew it was the front of my head, and my eyes, where the pain originated. Ice helped so much more.

Actually, yesterday, up until this morning, I’ve been led to remember how I was at this time last week. The pain was going away, but there was still a lot of it that it even took effort to think. Quite unlike earlier this morning, when I was free of the said pain, and free to think on what I wanted to think, instead of focusing on pain and relief, and letting thoughts – songs, memories, movies scenes, etc. – come and go.

I remembered, and I realized, that sort of pain exists. It’s not necessarily pain that overwhelms you in terms of ‘quantity’ or ‘quality’, but it’s pain with no relief in sight, that really messes not only with your body, but with your mind as well. Having gone through this, I simply had to say what I said last Sunday – that those who have gone through said pain or greater deserve our respect.

I went down further and pointed out that surely those who have walked this earth longer than I have, still live, regardless of living in a world where, I just realized, you can experience such torturous pain that would have all of your mind and body on its knees, if only for some semblance of comfort.

I suppose that’s another way to add value in this reality – To relieve pain, if not to increase comfort. That’s probably why, even in this pandemic, people still go out of their way to get a good massage, to get all the tension out. People still go out of their way, to the point of getting vaccinated, just to be able to travel outside the city or the country.

And who could blame them? I’m led to remember a tweet by Naval Ravikant, where he says something to this point – Just as we travel and take vacations to miss our homes, so we interact and communicate with others to miss our minds.

And that’s just thinking about the physical and mental aspects, but what if we try to make it work from a financial perspective? You relieve pain by way of assisting people to get out of debt, and you increase comfort by way of empowering them to seek streams of income.

Religion would bait many by saying that their ‘way’ is a way to address the pain they’re going through, and a way to add comfort to their lives as well. People would be placed under a legalistic environment so they would avoid the pain of divine wrath, and be that much closer to heaven.

Thinking from my perspective, the body of Christ would relieve pain, and increase comfort in this world, first by understanding how Christ relieved pain and increased comfort. The concept of salvation in my point of view is Christ’s body laid down to take the sin and death that we deserved, relieving us of pain. When Christ rose from the dead, so we rose with Him; relieved, we live, and not just life, but eternal life beyond our wildest of dreams – ‘comfort’ says it very lightly.

This is why we think – being made free of the sin and death that would not only doom us but apparently drag our bodies and minds down by way of pain, our eyes are opened to the light of eternal life, made true for us, not at an appointed time, but here and now.

Bringing it all together, if I never allowed the Holy Spirit to bring me to believing in Christ and His finished work, I would probably be all bitter that Ron passed away. Or rather, it’d bring up all sorts of memories and thoughts – well, they came up while I was writing this, obviously – but having no foundation, I would probably have no choice but to stew in resentment.

No, now I do feel pretty sad. I couldn’t make any assumptions on the details of his passing, but I imagine there was some pain, probably to the point that any attempt to comfort was fruitless.

Although I know that somewhere down the line he probably was brought to believing in Christ, I pray he allowed the Holy Spirit to do its thing in his life. That way, no matter how the pain escalated, he would already have been secured by eternal comfort. I also pray that his family would find relief from pain, and an increase in comfort, however that may be, at this time.

And I don’t know, but I think this will probably factor into my message for this coming Sunday. My team was thoughtful enough to make that service Valentines’ themed, considering that Valentines’ Day was the next day. There wouldn’t be too much change from any normal service we would have, but from what I gather, they’ll be relieving pain and increasing comfort by way of giveaways and a couple of songs after we go live.

Perhaps I ought to do the same thing with my message. I’ll make it short and sweet, making sure, again, to relieve pain, and to increase comfort.

I should also probably do some reading to back this up. A couple of pivotal messages for us this year so far have been derived from Psalms.

Remember I talked about Psalm 22? How the first part of the Psalm detailed the turmoil the writer was in, only to end by encouraging himself, his congregation, and anyone else who would be reading the Psalm to rejoice. He tells us all to bless the Lord, for while he was aware of his troubles, he was not about to be overcome by them, instead allowing himself to be overwhelmed by God, who saved him and satisfied him. Out of this we drew out a point – recognize your pain, but be overwhelmed by Christ and His finished work.

Remember, just last Sunday, on how I read out Psalm 136 in the last minute? While the analysis of Psalm 22 was done much earlier, this time the revelation came out as I was sharing live – that it’s the Holy Spirit that is infinitely superior in consistency, reminding you when you couldn’t even gather the words for yourself: “God’s love endures forever”.

Would it be as easy as that, then? To find relief from pain, because God’s love endures forever? To find comfort in the Truth, that God’s love endures forever?

In all the Andrew Farley podcasts I was listening to at a low volume last week, while trying to get some rest, I remember one point that stuck out more than anything: That God’s love is not in competition with anything in this reality. I couldn’t remember the question asked which led to Dr. Farley exhorting that way, but it certainly wouldn’t be something I will forget any time soon.

It’s fun, finding connections here and there. I was fascinated, if not amused by the similarity between ‘Go forth and multiply’ and ‘Love one another’. Here, I say God is not in competition with anything in this reality, because His love endures forever. To try to flip to the other side of the coin, we can say God is infinitely superior, because His love endures forever.

God is great. His love endures forever.
As we have been relieved from pain, so we are able to help others find relief.
As we have been granted true comfort, so we are able to help others to the same comfort.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.
More thought on this is needed, but for now, this will suffice.

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