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  • Writer's pictureDwight Smith

It Pains My Soul

man in starbucks holding coffee and bible

The older I get the more I realize that there are things that I just don’t like. A fair question is, why don’t I like them? Admittedly, some are merely preferences. But, others are deeper. There is something more viscerally antagonistic going on in my soul.

Not only is my soul not encouraged in righteousnesses, or godliness, or holiness, it is not even encouraged in simpler things like joy, or patience, or greater magnanimous treatment of people.

This thought came to me as I was sitting in a Starbucks “burning” time on a Saturday waiting for family. For much of the time, the environmental music which seems to constantly follow us into public places, registered minimally in my consciousness. Maybe because I was not reading anything serous: the news, sports, cowboy short story, etc.

I had noticed at least one song that seemed to be out of place for the kind of music we tend to hear in Starbucks. It was loud, “raunchy,” and about as hard a rock as there is on the market. It caught my attention and diverted my reading. I was annoyed and wondered if all Starbucks actually have such music or can each choose what they want.

Leaving the question and the annoyance behind, I picked up a more serous reading material. Even as I was “caught” with an impactful quote, I was also “invaded” with more such music. And, I began to wonder, why am I disturbed? Of course, with some music I am simply annoyed because it does not fit my choices.

But, this time, it seemed deeper. I was more than annoyed. What was I feeling, or maybe better said, why was I reacting?

All at once it come to me, I was not so much annoyed, as I was pained. Nothing in the music was feeding the thoughts and intentions that God has made for me: that He has made for me to live as a new creature in Jesus.

Immediately, I was reminded of the the words of John of the Cross. “Never admit into your soul that which is not substantially spiritual, for if you do so, you will loose sweetness of devotion and recollection." He adds, "live in the world as if God and your soul only were in it; that your heart may be captive to no earthly thing.”

I have found that as I get older, there seems to be more things that “pain” my soul. They not only offend my soul, they bring pain, even agitation, to my soul.

My soul is pained every time I hear about another fallen Christian leader. My soul is pained every time I hear of the extent of “trafficking” in the world. My soul is pained each time I am made aware of another child without parental champions.

But, maybe nothing pains my soul more than the number of unborn children who are butchered before they have seen the light of day. The plight of each mother who was seduced into believing that she had an inalienable right to take another life, is painful enough. But to think of the millions of children, who were created in the wonderful image of God, who were brutally separated from life, pains the soul beyond description.

It leaves me wondering, are we supposed to feel the pain of soul at these things?

Yes, the growing image of Jesus formed in us should create a growing “strangeness” to the world in which we live. Yes, our citizenship in heaven should create growing repulsive reaction to the damage that sin causes to the human experience. Yes, at times we embrace the wrath of God on rebellious, evil people and actions.

We are pained at the impact of evil on others. We are pained at the coming judgment awaiting those who are still in their sins, and, yet, free to chose righteousness in Jesus...but don’t!

My painful soul may in fact be a greater and maturing sign that I don’t belong in this world; that I am indeed a sojourner, that the pain will never disappear until I am in the house prepared for me by my Savior!!

“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?

And who shall stand in his holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

who does not lift up his soul to what is false

and does not swear deceitfully.

He will receive blessing from the LORD

and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Psalm 24: 3-5


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