It Will Hurt

“I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.”[1]

What if it hurts? Darren Clarke is a professional golfer from Northern Ireland. You might have seen him as a guest commentator during last week’s 2014 Ryder Cup golf tournament. Where I want to take you today is into a story of his past. When Clarke was on the European team competing for the 2006 Ryder Cup he was faced with a challenging decision. Clarke’s wife Heather died of breast cancer at the age of 39 on Sunday, September 13, 2006, leaving Clarke with two young sons and a tournament to play. Six weeks later Clarke went on to accept the invitation to play on the European team, and he helped the Europeans win. Clarke played because he believed Heather would have wanted him to be there. Last week, when asked about those days Clarke said, “If you don’t want to put yourself in a position where it hurts, you’re in the wrong job.” That speaks to me as a Christian.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth on the subject of his hurt. He began his point with “Make room in your hearts for us.” It seems that he makes this request because of his own heart. “You are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.” Then Paul wrote, “In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.” What this says to me is that Paul put himself in a position where it hurt. Paul seems to have done this because he knew in the hurt he would find joy. How can this be? It is by the grace of God, as seen in Paul’s day by the abundant joy in the impoverished Christians of Macedonia. Macedonians were known to have given generously out of their poverty.

“For anyone who has the courage to enter our human sorrows deeply, there is a revelation of joy, hidden like a precious stone in the wall of a dark cave,” wrote Henri J.M. Nouwen.[2] Nouwen helps us understand that sorrows and joys, sadness and gladness, mourning and dancing are never separated. Just like pro golfer Clarke experienced both mourning and dancing upon the win of the 2006 Ryder Cup, he might not have felt the excitement of winning if he did not put himself in a position to hurt. Remember, his wife Heather would have been at the final hole on that Sunday to share in his Ryder Cup win.

What if it hurts? It will hurt. But imagine what we may miss in avoiding the hurt: the great joy, the overwhelming gladness, and such spirited dancing. Indeed, imagine what we may have missed if Christ had avoided the hurt.

 

[1] 2 Corinthians 7:3 (NRSV)

[2] Nouwen, Henri J.M., Can You Drink the Cup?, Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, © 1996,2006, p. 50

About Pastor Steve

Pastor Steve Hodges is an ordained minister, pastoring a church in central Virginia.
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