Pain in some situations is insufferable, sometimes it is intolerable, often it is unmanageable. Frequently pain is incurable. But what about when pain is intentional? Then pain becomes relatable, connectable, visible, and shareable. Cutting has been around since the days when Jesus walked the Earth, and this self-harm behavior of cutting yourself has become acceptable today as a means of coping with pain.
At the turn of the 18th century there was a medical procedure called "bloodletting" designed to cut the sick person's arm and let out the evil spirits that caused them to be ill. It was believed that the "bad blood" would come out and be replenished with good blood replacing it. When the person recovered from their illness, usually within a week, they attributed their recovery to this procedure. It was only after germs and penicillin were discovered that this procedure stopped.
Much in the same way, cutting oneself gives the illusion that the pain is being released. Children and adults are cutting themselves, posting their scars on social media and are finding connections and inclusion in a world dominated by pain. The reality is the support of others is the medicine they seek, but cutting is the common thread that brings them together.
The Apostle Mark recounts in Mark 5 a story of a man who was distraught with pain caused by a "impure spirit" and suffered mental illness caused by a demon named, Legion. "Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones." The man came before Jesus who by his mere presence, and the spirits knowledge of who he was, resulted in Legion leaving the man who was immediately restored to health. The man wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus told him to return to his community instead. A community is a support system where people can find social connection, empathy, compassion, and peace.
I have known people who overcame personal stories of pain, suffering, additions, and mental health because they chose faith over personal limitations. There is clinical research to support that people who have faith in a "higher power" recover more often than those who do not have a faith.
Without God -Our vision is limited by our pain and sometimes death is the only option we see. We feel helpless in our own abilities and this reality makes us feel hopeless.
With God- we also must face death, but it is a death to old beliefs, death to doing it alone, and death to pride. Death is what we deserve, but with Jesus Christ we live. When we can’t - God can. When we are weak - God is strong. Our faith in a savior who can deliver us from pain gives us hope.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."