A Message from the Grand Senior Warden,
Life is Pain
Many of us have seen the classic film, “The Princess Bride.“ My friend, Reverend Rodney Wood, recently reminded me that among the most memorable lines in that movie are ones spoken by Westley (the farmboy played by actor Cary Elwes) to the beautiful princess in reply to what she perceived to be his mocking of her pain:
Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling you something.
When you and I heard Carey Elwes say those words, most of us did not know that as a child he had come face to face, in a very real and profound way, with the pain of this world. He had watched as his father Dominick suffered from manic depression; he had watched as his parents went their separate ways in divorce; and as a thirteen-year-old he had heard the tragic, soul-shaking news that his father had committed suicide.
What about us? How old were we when we first began to see and hear things that made us realize that not just our immediate world, but the whole planet is a place of pain? Throughout our lives, at sundry times and in various manners, that realization has been renewed and deepened; especially to those of us who live in Louisiana. All of us, including our fraternity, have had to endure pain and difficulties recently. Within the past year alone, we have had to struggle through the aftermath of two hurricanes. We continue to grapple with the effects of COVID-19 sounding the alarm at our doors. Additionally, we each have our own individual “thorns in the flesh,“ which cause us discomfort.
We are told in Job 5:7, what we know from experience to be true, “… man is born to trouble trouble as sparks fly upward.“ Job knew pain. He lamented that “days of affliction” had taken hold of him (30:16) and forlornly declared, “the pain that gnaws me takes no rest“ (30:17). Jesus, himself, was known as a “man of sorrows“ (Isaiah 53:3).
Job was nearly crushed by his pain. He shaved his head, tore his robe and covered himself in ashes (1:20). He scraped the scales on his skin with pottery shards, his pain was so extreme (2:7).
Yet, even in the midst of suffering and pain, Job chose to rely on his faith. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord“ (1:21). Even though Job kept his faith, his questions about why he had to suffer were never fully answered. And that is the point; suffering did not make sense to Job and it does not make sense to us. Keeping our faith in the midst of pain will not always provide a logical explanation for the situation.
However, God knows our pain; he endured it himself in the person of Christ. He overcame so that we might overcome.
Choosing faith in the midst of pain reminds us that God is in control. Faith requires us to trust the Great Architect of the Universe in the difficult circumstances, as well as in the good. When we realize our lack of control, we are more willing to relinquish it to the Master.
Suffering and pain present obstacles to our fraternity. However, they also provide opportunities to serve God by serving others. The propitious occasions to extend the hand of charity to those in distress are not disguised if we will but look.
Masons and lodges across our state are rising to the challenge in various ways. Under the leadership of our Grand Master, Masons are extending the hand of charity all across our state to help their fellow brothers and others who have been adversely affected by the disasters previously mentioned.
We might respond to Westley that life is indeed pain. However life is also mercy; mercy received and mercy extended to others. May we who have received the beneficence of the Great Architect of the Universe extend it to others in these perilous times.
R∴ W∴ Jay B. McCallum
Grand Senior Warden