Chaplain’s Corner: Pain and Life at the Rio Olympics

Chaplain (Maj.) Alva Ray BennetBy Chaplain (Maj.) Alva Ray Bennett, 30th AG Battalion /

One of the paradoxes in life is that we carry a great treasure in a very fragile container. The great treasure we carry is life itself. Every day we wake up and go about our business as if it is normal. But consider every day that your life continues, someone else’s life has ended. It is not a cause and effect correlation, but it is true. People die daily – floods in Louisiana, an earthquake in Italy, war throughout the planet, cancer and other diseases. Going about the business of a normal day is a great treasure. Influencing, blessing and encouraging people spreads that treasure to others.

But our lives are fragile. Simple things cause pain – physical pain and emotional pain. It can even steal our treasure, making us bitter, grumpy and sad. The fragile nature of life makes us want to hoard our treasure, and not share our life with others.

Yet the paradox is that when we share our treasure with others in spite of the pain we are experiencing, true life increases. Our treasure given to others increases in our own life. Joy takes priority over pain.

That is the paradox that Paul alludes to in 2 Corinthians 4: 7-10. “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

This paradox was illustrated in the recent Rio Summer Olympics. During the Women’s 5,000 meter race, American runner Abbey D’Agostino bumped into New Zealand runner Nikki Hamblin. Both fell. D’Agostino got up quickly, but then seeing Hamblin on the ground stopped to help her up. ‘Get up, get up, we have to finish this,’ said D’Agostino. They both continued the race, but D’Agostino’s injuries were more extensive than she thought, and she fell again. This time Hamblin helped D’Agostino to her feet. Together they finished the race.

“Struck down, but not destroyed,” the two runners shared their life treasure. Though carrying around the pain of their accident in their bodies, their lives were blessed in their spirits by their mutual support.

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