This journey of life is painful. If we are even slightly conscious, we know that at every turn in the road we encounter heartache.

We can try to shelter ourselves from it, anesthetize ourselves against it, avoid it, or pretend it is not true. We cannot make it go away. We are powerless to avoid the reality that we are touched every day by the brokenness of the human condition.

It is tempting to rush to try to fix the complex conundrums of the human condition. We want to fix everything. We long for the golden key that will turn in the lock of the world’s suffering and bring peace, harmony, good government, prosperity, and radiant health to all inhabitants of this tortured earth.

But if we look honestly into our own hearts, we will discover that much of our drive to find solutions, derives from our desire to avoid the pain that feels so overwhelming.

Alas history shows that the attempt to avoid pain by solving problems is frequently inadequate. Many of our solutions set in motion a chain of events that lead to greater turmoil and increased suffering. Too often our solutions only create more violence and heartache. (see Ben Swann:

Jesus did not fix the world. He failed to address most of the problems of his day and certainly left behind more pain and suffering than he ever eliminated. Jesus did not overthrow the Roman oppressors. He did not find a vaccine for leprosy, eliminate poverty, untangle the intractable problem of mental illness, satisfy the hungry masses with bread, or solve the desperate injustices that continue to plague human kind.

If Jesus’ job was to fix everything, he was a failure.

But fixing the brokenness of the human community was not Jesus’ job. He did not come to eliminate pain from the human experience.

When the Gospel writer Matthew sought to explain the ministry Jesus conducted, he reached back into ancient Jewish tradition and said,

this was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:17)

The Greek verbs used here are lambano which can be translated “receive” and bastazo  which means “to carry or to bear.”

Like Jesus, we must face the inescapable reality that we will never fix all the pain of the world. But we can “receive” and “carry” or “bear” that pain.

We can be present to those who suffer. We can stand with those who weep. We can hold the brokenness in tenderness. When we have the courage to sit still with our doubts, uncertainties, fears, and inability to find solutions, we will open to the deeper reality of love which is present even in the most painful darkness.

Healing does not start with our rush to eliminate the pain. Wisdom does not begin with our ready answers and smart solutions. We move toward healing slowly and gradually as we bear our own pain and acknowledge the profound limitations of our power to solve the conundrums we confront. We move further down the healing path as we simply “receive” and “bear” the pain we encounter.

The most healing thing we can do is just hold the pain. Listen to the person who is hurting; let our hearts break open to the heartache and allow the love that is present to guide our response.