Rob Bell is having one heck of a week. He’s the charismatic founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grandville, Michigan. You may have seen him on Good Morning America, MSNBC or in your USA Today. His polarizing new book, Love Wins went on sale amid a sea of national publicity March 15. Rob’s book addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—and how ultimately, God’s love wins. Before I get anyone worked up, please know that I’m not here to argue the contents or theories in his book as I’ve not read it.
After a few mouse clicks to learn more, I found myself watching a short video featuring Rob Bell titled “Pain Makes Us Honest”. That video title sucked me in. In the video, Rob teaches that many of the ‘most significant moments in our lives come not because everything went right but because it all fell apart. It’s the difficult, unexpected, or tragic that opens us up and frees us to see things in new ways. Suffering hurts, but it also creates.’ This really resonated with me.
During the last few years my family has gone through extreme hardship, probably a lifetime of pain and suffering for most. We lost our daughter Samantha at birth (she was revived), we lost our small business, had a cerebral palsy scare, went though breast cancer, chemo, radiation, surgeries, my Mom passed away, and a few weeks later Lindy was diagnosed with brain cancer; more hospitals, more surgery and then more radiation, all this while we’re trying to raise our twin babies. How’s that for a run-on sentence of pain and misery? Let’s just say things really fell apart.
In the midst of everything, something happened to us. Our guards toppled over like a tower of blocks. The pain made us honest. We couldn’t hide behind our rock-solid façade—it was gone. We were fully exposed; open to the world; pain has a way of doing that. When you’re driving and you see your wife’s name on large signs or you open the newspaper and see an article about your family, you’re exposed. It’s a surreal place to be.
Suffering has created something…it’s called life perspective. Certain things just don’t matter so much anymore. Cliché? Perhaps. Truth? Yes. Remember, pain makes us honest.