Being a passionate Christian in the Western world, where apathy reigns, is not easy. It is often quite painful.
The strong desire to see Christians care more deeply, love more deeply, and live more intentionally for Christ and for others is a good desire. But it holds the danger of disappointment and frustration, which very often leads people to anger, bitterness, and burn out. Passion is like fire – if you cannot tame it, it will burn you and the people you love; it will destroy.
Most Western Christians do not understand fiery passion, and are held captive in their faith, in one way or another, by apathy. To someone who cares so deeply, this apathy is infuriating. But, knowing that we must be patient, gentle, and kind towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, there is usually not much that we can do. So the fury burns within us. It hurts us. It embitters us.
Many times I have been moved so deeply, cared so passionately, and felt so powerless to do anything that it physically hurts. My chest aches with pain, my stomach tightens, and my body is tense with emotion.
There is only one productive thing to do in these times, and that of course is to pour all of that passion, emotion, and pain into desperate prayer. To pray and to press into God until the pain slowly subsides, and is replaced with the gentle embrace of love.
Months ago, I lamented that God had made me someone who cares so deeply. I lamented that I would forever be different because of my passion; that I must forever be careful to control it. I cried that He had created me to bear the burdens of the church in my heart, and I cried at the utter loneliness of having no one who understands what it’s like; no one who understands me.
That’s when this image and these words were placed in my heart, and with them such a curious and great comfort.
“You are not the first one who cared so much that it hurt.”