Last Friday I was on my sixth radio show. It was called “Live the Promise.”
This glib beginning makes me sound like a pro, but the truth is, I have never been on the radio before. Until seven weeks ago when Finding Faith in the Dark came out.
No one wanted to interview me about “Help I’m a Small Group Leader” or “Studies on the Go in John.”
But faith in the dark strikes a nerve that makes people want to talk.
Most of my interviews have been taped, so they’ve essentially been conversations I’ve had with the radio host, with anywhere from 1-10,000 people listening in. (Maybe a few more if you count the podcasts).
But this one was live. It lasted an hour and people actually called in.
The host was lovely; her name was Susie Larson, and she was articulate, perceptive, comforting, and (best of all) a fan of my book. What I wasn’t prepared for was the way my heart was broken as I talked live to real people in pain.
I wrote about pain in my book. I’ve been interviewed on pain. But as people called in and shared their stories, I realized how many people are living pain on any given day. These are people you see in the grocery store. In line at the post office. On the elliptical next to you in the gym.
You just never know how much pain is inside the person next to you.

I know this because there were a handful of people who were doing their every day stuff in their every day lives until they decided to call in to the show.They all apologized for their tears. And all of them had tears. (Interesting how we feel compelled to apologize when we are sad).

One was waiting for a doctor to call with a possible diagnosis of bone marrow cancer. The other had gone through a divorce, and had several adult children (not to mention her whole life experience) with an ex husband who now realized he was gay. A third was single in her forties, trying to be brave and do life alone when all she really wanted was someone to love her.
We prayed and sighed and felt heavy in our hearts and then we closed the show.

Later that same night I spoke at a women’s event at a church where the pastor who planted it recently had an incident that left the church without him.
There were more stories of pain as I stayed after to talk, and it struck me that pretty much everyone around us lives with some form of pain.
It just comes in different packages.

We see each other on Facebook and everyone looks happier, prettier, thinner and in a better relationship than they really are so we all assume that everyone else’s life must be better than ours.
The truth is, others look at you the same way.
Until we get out from behind our Facebook photos and let people into our hurts and questions. Or write about them in a book and then start to see that underneath happy, pretty, thin, well loved people is always some place of pain.

Because pain is a part of life.

There is a God who knows that. But it takes faith to see His presence when the valley we are in is dark.
He knows that valley. He lived it in the form of His son.
But pain is never the end of the story.
And in some mysterious way, pain helps us grow deeper, love better and live fuller lives, which is more of what God intends for us while we are here.

Tomorrow I have a radio show airing that actually was taped. Not live. No call ins. But I sure do like the title.
It’s called “Keep the Faith”.

And that, so often is what we’re called to do.